“Multiples” face day-to-day sibling comparison

Comparison or complication?


Amy Kottmeyer

B. Kottmeyer poses with her two triplet sisters. "On most days though my sisters and I are really close. They are kind of built in best friends and there for safety. You are almost never bored and you almost never are alone," she said.

Twins, triplets, quadrupletsWhen it comes to siblings from a multiple birth, life can easily become a game of comparisons. Who is the tallest? Who has the best grades? Who is the most athletic? Rather than asking questions to evaluate the similarities and differences between siblings, it may be time to ask if comparison can pose lifelong problems.

For junior Becky Kottmeyer, fraternal triplet to Abby and Katie Kottmeyer, comparison is a ceaseless part of life that has been around since childhood.

“Growing up, you just find all this as normal with people stopping you in public places, asking you triplet questions and peering into how you and your sisters are similar and unique. I would say the comparison has been a lifelong thing,” B. Kottmeyer said.

Although mere curiosity is the primary reason behind such comparisons, siblings often feel confined by the conceptions others may have about them.

“Most of the time, people don’t even mean anything by it; however especially in middle school and high school, I was old enough to see how being a triplet affected my relationships with teachers and friends, and that’s when it became more of a problem,” B. Kottmeyer said. “Some people really do make a good effort to see us as individuals, yet some people don’t even try.”

Not only can comparison cause problems in relations with peers and teachers, but also in relationships between siblings.

People feel like they need to pick a favorite,”

— Becky Kottmeyer

“It is common that some people disregard getting to know the other two of us if they know one Kottmeyer. People feel like they need to pick a favorite,” B. Kottmeyer said. “Comparison indirectly causes the need to be territorial of the things you are the best at. We try our best not to be competitive, but it is hard when your strengths and weaknesses are analyzed to each others’ in a school setting.”

Each sibling, however, is an individual with their own likes, dislikes, hobbies and habits.

“I’ve always been paired with my brother, but that’s kind of what being a twin is. Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna be stuck together,” junior Kentaurus Robinson, fraternal twin, said. “This didn’t start bothering me at all until we started branching out and becoming more individual, because while I still did spend plenty of time with him, I didn’t necessarily want to spend all my time with him. We’re different people, and we like doing things our own way.”

Although sibling comparison may persist from childhood into high school and beyond, incidents involving comparison can become an easy source of humor that lightens the burden of constantly being compared..

I faced the hilarious situation where a number of people I knew had mistaken me for both myself as well as my twin,” K. Robinson said. “They hadn’t met my brother, who looks completely different from me, so in many cases, people thought I was both [my brother] Chiron and myself.”

However, this same humor may not be funny to the siblings themselves. For B. Kottmeyer, issues were aplenty during a class shared with her sister, Katie.

“Right after a couple weeks of school, they had the class take bets on which sister would do better on their test than the other one, [which] not only exploited our grades but made us, as people, into a game,” B. Kottmeyer said. “That class was not my strength, but that does not go to say that I am not smart. That experience made me feel discouraged by my teacher and insecure around my classmates.”

Even through all of the ups and downs, twins, triplets, quadruplets and all other kinds of siblings from a multiple birth can list the merits of having siblings of the same age.

“We know what is going on in the other classes and are able to remind each other things about school, like a project or homework. Also, I don’t think either of us like to go into new things alone. It make me less nervous to have someone around that I know well,” freshman and identical twin Alison Clay said.

And in the eyes of multiples, relationships with their siblings certainly have the tendency to win out against all else. 

“I adore being a triplet and I would not change it if I had the chance. I like having two people to walk besides me in life rather than to look up to or coach down to,” B. Kottmeyer said. “Both of them are really smart, so if I ever have a school question they are there. If I ever need a pick me up, they are there because most likely they know what I am going through.”

 B. Kottmeyer implores peers to consciously work to not compare herself and her sisters. 

“In this world we are trained to look for connections. It is what really smart people do; [they] sort out similar colors, identify different patterns, be able to find friends based off of your similar personality. So when people hear we are triplets they want to answer whatever question comes to mind and either put us in or take us out of a box,” B. Kottmeyer said. “We should be seen as individuals with variant commonalities.”