How many of you wished you had a twin when you were a kid?
The possibilities for deception would be endless. You'd dress alike, do you hair in the exact same fashion, have a sibling attend your much-despised violin lesson (which they would bungle badly), all in exchange for the best dessert that evening. Shoddy musicianship aside, no one would be able to tell the difference.
Many a Hollywood film has been built around this premise — for good and for evil. But for one mother of identical quadruplet boys in China, the confusion simply became too much for the family, friends and teachers to handle.
"Their father [has trouble] telling the differences among them… Sometimes he would punish the second one for the third one's mistake," she adds.
Noting that their only difference is the shape of their eyelids, Tan decided to take a far more visible measure in differentiating her sons before they started the new school year.
With clothing being too easy to switch around in some mischievous brotherly scheme, their mother needed something a little more difficult to mix up.
So herding the boys to a salon, she had giant numbers shaved into their hair. Each quadruplet received a figure from one to four, ensuring that boy number two never gets punished for boy number three's transgressions.
Tan admits the tactic has worked beautifully and that the school's director no longer has to separate the boys into four different classes.
Teachers are also "at ease" now that they know which sibling is which.
And, of course, now Tan can continue to dress them in identical clothing with an easy conscience.