Telling twins apart

I often get asked how I tell our identical twin girls, Mignon and Isabel, apart. 

The short answer is: I don’t really know. I just do.  

But I try to make it easier for everyone else. I wanted to dress them differently but the same from the start, partly to give them each their own identity and partly to make it easier for other people.  I decided to celebrate their differences and encourage them to be their own people. Independent and all that.

The long answer is:

At birth we painted Mignon’s one thumbnail pink so we wouldn’t mix them up. We kept it like that until we felt comfortable (read: we lost the nail varnish bottle in the chaos). I was paranoid that we would mix them up and they would live their lives being confused about who they are.  And require many years of expensive therapy and drugs. Isabel was also paler than Mignon initially due to a lack of iron in the womb.

We used to get such a kick out of asking their older brother, Daniel, to tell us who is who. And wonder of all wonders, he got it right, 90% of the time. Now he has a standard answer when someone’s been naughty: It was Isabel. He’s still right 90% of the time.

I was also constantly worried that they would grow up, look at their baby pictures and ask which was which.  So we devised a clever plan: we allocated a specific colour dummy to each of them.  Which you of course cannot make out on most pictures.

Then we had a brain wave. Why not dress one in pink and the other in a different colour?  Same outfits, different colour. Which, in theory, works well.  But what to do when you have dark and light pink?  We have friends that don’t really know who is who, but they know ‘the pink one’ and ‘the other one’. 

Then we have friends and family that have known them apart since day 1.  Pretty impressive I say. Which means that, at the very least, they each have their own personality and regarded as two different people.

How the twins are different

They have opposite personalities, they walk, talk and sit differently, one is left and the other right- handed at the moment, one eats meat and the other not.

Isabel has a little scar in the corner of her eye, Mignon a nice big scar above her lip. Isabel grunts and is stubborn as all hell, Mignon sings, chats and screams. Isabel’s little face is a little “wider” than Mignon’s at the moment, her chin is different. 

They have the same hands, exactly the same fingernails. And feet. Isabel is usually the one sitting ON the kitchen table and Mignon is the one busy pouring her juice on the floor so she can play in the puddle. Isabel will also be the one changing the channel on the TV and then look very innocent, much to the annoyance of her brother and sister! Oh, and Isabel is a biter. Mignon just bites back.

Can I tell other people’s identical twins apart? Hell no. Too hard. I can spot differences, but I cannot tell you who is who. 
I have to confess though, when they are in the bath, hair wet and from behind, there is just no way I can tell them apart unless one of them makes a sound... But don’t tell hubby, it’ll be just our secret.  And the pink one is Mignon. Usually.

Is it important to give twins a separate identity from early on?

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