What I wish twin parents knew
“Whatever you do, please don’t dress us in matching outfits or buy us joint birthday presents…”
Here John Ellis, 32 , (pictured left, with his twin brother Stuart) makes an impassioned plea to new twin parents
I love being a twin – my twin brother Stuart is my best mate and I wouldn’t swap the experience of having such a close bond with a sibling for the world. We are the youngest two in a family of four boys. When my mam was pregnant with us, she had no idea that she was having two babies because I didn’t show up in any of the scans. I must have spent the entire time hiding behind Stuart’s massive head. So when I popped out, a couple of minutes after him – it must have been a shock. I like to think it was a good surprise though – I’m the special bonus one.
Even though we are very different characters, we grew up being very close and we still are. We live in different cities now but we still speak every day. I was his best man at his wedding and I am godfather to his little boy. It was brilliant always having someone to hang out with even though we did have massive fights sometimes. Having said that, there were also things that annoyed me about being a twin when we were growing up. Here are some of them:
• Always being referred to as ‘the twins”: “Here come the twins”, “What do the twins think?”, “What are the twins doing?” were phrases I got really sick of hearing as a child. We are two separate people – not a unit. We have completely different characters and personalities – Stuart is much more serious and has a short fuse, whereas I am much more laid back and have a long fuse. Why would people think we’d have the same opinions about anything anyway? Bizarrely, even though Stuart and I don’t look alike at all, people get us mixed up all the time. Whenever I’m home in Newcastle, people always come up to me and say: “Oh you’re one of the Ellis twins. Which one are you?”
• Being dressed the same: I can’t remember how old I was when I suddenly realised Stuart and I were always wearing the same outfits, but we were maybe about six or seven. But as soon as I did become aware of it, I hated it. As soon as we had the choice we stopped wearing matching clothes which was difficult because mam always bought us the same things. I don’t blame her though – it was probably cheaper to buy in bulk. Sometimes you see adult twins who still dress the same and live in the same house and that kind of thing freaks me out a bit.
• Getting joint presents and cards: This one really used to annoy me when we were growing up. When people bought us presents at Christmas or birthdays, we’d race to be the first one to open them – to be the first to find out what it was because it was always the same thing. I sort of understand this now though as we would have fought over who had the better present anyway. But again we had totally different interests so buying us the same thing didn’t really work on any level. Then when we were teenagers, friends at school used to give us joint birthday cards which was fine but when you think about it, it’s a bit weird. We’d always say: “Shall we open it together then?”
• Being asked stupid questions: “Are you twins?”, “Do you like being twins?”, “What’s it like being a twin?” are questions I must have been asked thousands of times over the years. I don’t really mind but they are sort of meaningless questions. Being a twin is often good, sometimes annoying but how would I know any different? You might as well ask: “What’s it like being a brother or a sister?” I always say it’s good and I’m so used to rattling off the responses now – I don’t even think about it. The stupidest question I’ve ever been asked though is: “Can you read each other’s minds?” I used to get asked this all the time and it still comes up a surprising amount – I don’t even bother responding to that one.