If you come from a family with two or three children or more, then I know you’ve experienced it.
Someone on Pinterest probably already has a pin that shows a kid with a bewildered look that reads, “That awkward moment when someone calls you by another name.”
My older sister and I are 15 months apart. Aside from being two grades apart in school due to the times of the year that we were born, teachers often got us mixed up. It was OK – our mother did it all the time.
Some days she would go down the whole list of kids before she stopped at the right name. She was a very busy mother and had to have felt like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
Yet, as Mom would run down the list of names before skidding to a stop at the one she really wanted, I always figured that as long as she didn’t call me by any of my brothers’ names, I still was counted among the girls.
That was a relief to me some days. Though wearing some of my brothers’ hand-me-downs as we did, I’m sure she had trouble telling the difference for a few years.
That being said, I really never thought anything of it.
It was something I never thought about until my husband and I had twins.
Our boys have grown up looking very much alike and with people not being able to tell them apart.
Of course, we can tell them apart easily, but we’re around them all the time.
The amazing thing was that when they were born, we truly could not tell one from the other; but their 2-year-old sister knew right out of the chute who was whom.
I guess 2-year-olds don’t know that twins often look the same, and so to her, they were just her two brothers who were born on the same day.
Whenever we questioned her, she got it right. The guys had all the same features, all the same parts, all the same count of fingers and toes – and not one marking to tell them apart. Yet, she could tell just from looking who was who.
It used to amaze me and, honestly, intimidate me a little.
We devised a plan for the parents to be able to distinguish one from the other, and wrote it down, keeping it in a safe place somewhere so we would always know which one was which if we ever forgot what our plan was.
They grew up with people not knowing one from the other. They mostly answered to our last name and various forms of it, and even answered to school kids and classmates who combined their first names together into one name, figuring that they would at least have half a chance to get it right.
Sometimes people just flat-out asked, “Which one are you?”
They took it well, and still do take it well when that happens, even at age 21.
They worked for a neighbor a couple of summers ago, and he said when he finally had them figured out, they happened to start wearing different shoes to work, and then he had to start all over again. Oh, the injustice of it all.
When they were in high school, they had gone to a livestock show somewhere to help as showmen, and came back home with pull-over jackets with their names on them.
They were pretty snazzy as jackets go, and I really liked that they had their names on them, and told them so. They liked it, as well.
One of them said to me, “It was, like, the first time I heard someone actually say my name to me.”
It was an epiphany for me at that point.
Until that moment, I had never understood the true beauty that lies behind hearing the people I know and love speak my name.
It was something I had apparently taken for granted, because all of my life, people who know me have known exactly who I am when they see me.
Even my mother, now that she doesn’t skim down the list anymore.
What’s in a name? Plenty, if you ask our sons, and perhaps other look-alike twins and siblings.
But our boys will still grin at you if you get their names wrong, I’ll becha.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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