Monday, October 3, 2011

MOMday: Colour Coding the Twins

When the girls were born - they did not look identical.  Not even a smidgen.   Doodle was teeny with really delicate features.  Buggie was much rounder.  At 4lbs 10oz and 5lbs 5 oz - that weight difference made a big difference.   And they stayed about the same percent different for the first two years.   Nobody had any problems past the first 5 minutes of being around them.  Personalities were as different as night and day.  Smiles were different.  Voices were different.  They were fraternal looking twins in the bodies of genetically identical twins.

Then, they turned two.  

I had just returned to work and they were at the dayhome and Doodle gained 3lbs in 2 months.   More weight than she had gained between her first and second birthday.   The differences started to go away.  The troubles distinguishing them suddenly started.  It didn't help that they both suddenly thought they had the same name and would call each other by Doodle's name (even when looking in a mirror).

In July, we visited my parents and my dad was having a lot of trouble telling them apart.   Then more and more people started expressing that they were having trouble.  After months in the dayhome - suddenly our dayhome lady and her family couldn't tell them apart.  It was time to act...and fast.

The dayhome had pre-emptively painted ones toenails for a quick cue.   I never liked the nail polish solution for twins.   I know many people use it and it works fine for them, but I was seeing winter fast approaching and those tootsies being covered in socks.   I wanted to see something a little simpler yet immediately recognizable. I made the decision to colour code them.

Doodle - mostly cool tones

Blue
Green
Teal
Navy
White
Black (shirts)
Yellow


Buggie - mostly warm tones

Purple
Pink
Red
Orange
Brown
Grey

Hubby thought this was really complicated and wanted to just get them bracelets with their names on them.  I was quick to remind him that a bracelet doesn't help with identifying them from across the room.

Their bottoms would either be in their colour family or neutral but the tops would always conform to the colours.  That way no one could say that we weren't trying to help people tell them apart.

On laundry day - I separated all of their clothes into their colour families and assigned them each a drawer. 

Next step - I made up a colour chart to share with those who needed it.

Then Monday came and the girls headed off to the Dayhome in their assigned colours.

The verdict?  Hooray!  It worked!

We are about 3 weeks into the colour coding and it has made things so much easier on everyone.  Instead of referring to them by generic terms like "sister", "Twin", "that one"...the girls now have unique names.  And they are called them all the time.  The other kids know their names too.  Best of all - because the people they are with all day call them by their proper names - they are starting to refer to each other by those names as well.

Hmmm - maybe THEY couldn't tell each other apart either...

We only really colour code during the week...on weekends, they wear whatever they choose.  But if the coding makes it easier on our dayhome staff - then it is worth the few extra minutes it takes to separate out their clothing.   Eventually - they won't need it at all, as people start to recognize them for who they are instead of what they look like, but I know this is probably just the first small step in what will be a long struggle for identity.   All we need to do is ease them through each of the steps will will encounter along the way.

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