What's bothering you? he said.
Mummy got me wrong.
I don't think I did, although I do occasionally, grasping desperately for a name in a crisis. In many ways, she's lucky I didn't call her M. Is being thought a boy worse than being thought your twin?
Yesterday S came into the kitchen in tears. Her birthday cards (now over six weeks out of date) were in the craft box and she didn't want them to be cut up. Especially this one. It's from Annabelle. Annabelle's her best friend. She wants to go to Annabelle's party next year (Annabelle's party was last week, so we have some time to wait). The tears flow faster.
But Annabelle won't know who I am then.
I can't empathise. I'm me. I've always been me, and aside from the occasional "which one are you?" frustration of every mother as she searches for the right name, I've never been anyone else.
But A and S aren't. They are different, so different, but they're also the same. Did you know that the type of identical twin depends on how soon after conception the fertilised egg splits? If it's within four days you get totally separate twins with two placentas. If it's more than 12 days after you get conjoined twins: two people joined in one body.
My girls must have split between days four and eight. It's odd knowing that. Odd too that no-one knows why or how they split; why or how they became two people when I am one, when most of the people they meet are one.
And they are beginning to understand this, to understand that people don't always know who they are, and it is beginning to distress and fascinate in equal parts. It's partly my fault, of course. L asked how twins happened, and I gave her the potted version: sometimes two babies grow inside the Mummy's tummy, and sometimes, for reasons no-one knows, one baby starts to grow, but it breaks (and I regretted that word as soon as it came out of my mouth) into two babies and so you get two babies who look the same but are actually two separate people.
I don't think so. I think, I hope, that this is a stage. They are just four and these early years are (aren't they?) all about identity: discovering who you are. How much harder must that be when you have a mirror image (complete with matching scar on her forehead) who is both you and not you.
I can't explain this very well, because I don't understand it. I don't have a twin. I don't even have any close friends who are twins, although my father has a non-identical brother. I don't know how to help them become themselves, separate but still linked. To grow into individuals with their own lives, while retaining the amazing bond that unites them.
Because although they were both so distressed at being confused, they adore each other. They are separated at school, in different classes, and seem happy to be so, but there are hugs and squeals of delight when they are reunited at lunchtime. They make a beeline for each other at gym and music, I am told. They share a room and enjoy closing the door, shutting the world out and just being themselves. We have our share of bickering - we have two four year olds, a five year old and a toddler in the house, bickering is our standard operating procedure - but more often than not, if it is just A and S, they get on, playing together, chatting together, just being.
Individuality's a process, I suppose, and the fear of losing their separate identities they are beginning to display is just the flip side of the fact that they still haven't, where each other is concerned, got the idea of personal space at all. Fingers go in noses, tongues in ears: Look at this Mummy!
In a way I am the same: I want them to be separate - my nightmare for them is that they are still living together, dressing the same, probably with cats, at the age of forty - but I also love the special link they share. I want to encourage their individuality, but I shy away from the idea of separate bedrooms. Not yet, not now. Plenty of time for that.
The study of twins is called gemellology; much cleverer people than I spend their lives thinking about twins and the relationships between them. How best to nurture the individual while protecting the bond. That's all I want too: I'm just rather less scientifically hoping that we'll get there in the end.
And hoping too that this time next year Annabelle will still know who S is.
In one of those brilliant coincidences, the subject for the Gallery this week is Bond. As per usual I've been more wordy than I've been pictorial, but there are pictures, so I hope the Gallery's great and good will forgive me. Click through to see other Bonds (although sadly not of the Daniel Craig variety).