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Twins: the ultimate talking point for strangers?

Twins: the ultimate talking point for strangers?

Dad Chris Windle tells us candidly about the random conversations you'll find yourself having with strangers when you're a parent to twins...

Not so long ago my wife was pushing our twins down the bakery aisle of a supermarket when an old lady stopped to tell her it was such a shame they are both boys. Wouldn’t it be better to have one of each? So jaded is she by the constant flow of inquisitors that she just nodded and smiled before the question had registered.     

Twins are a magnet for those with an odd lack of inhibition when it comes to asking very personal questions. I’ve spent a lot of time discussing my sex life with complete strangers who want to know how mine were conceived, when what I really want to concentrate on is finding an avocado that is, actually, ripe and ready to eat.

Out of context most of the questions people ask are perfectly reasonable. But, if you really must engage parents bearing twins in light conversation, it’s worth pausing to think about whether they’ve been asked: “Are they twins?” before. You’re likely to come to the conclusion that, yes, they have. Probably 30 seconds ago.

Australian mum of twins Annie Nolan neatly summed up the barrage of questions that come the way of multiples parents in this post that sent the internet into a spin recently. In a roundabout way she was saying: “Unless you’re coming to tell me one of my offspring has escaped into the food storage section and is wrapping her head in cling film, BACK OFF.” And it’s a good rule to live by.

There is only so long two small children can sit quietly in a pram or trolley before they perform a synchronised bowel movement or start straining at their straps. That is the brief window of time their parents have to do the shopping in – every minute wasted in the aisles is an extra minute of crying at the till that no amount of rice cakes can stop. And I love rice cakes.

My wife tends to suffer these interruptions with good humour. I, however, identify the most likely culprits and push my trolley around them with reckless haste, making sure never to make eye contact.

If that doesn’t work, and I find myself cornered by the oven chips, I smile, look confused and hope the person talking to me assumes I don’t speak the language. Even if I’ve known them for years. Try not to be offended, but do remember it’s not me, it’s you.   

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