We have a Sunday morning ritual now that goes something like this: breakfast together around 8 a.m. Then, to give Marta some time to work, I take off with the baby, her bottle, the stroller and the dog. We walk through campus toward Starbucks, where I buy my Sunday New York Times because, as I have griped about before, this is the only way to get the NYTimes in Lubbock.
By the time we arrive, the baby is usually asleep. I tie Finn to a tree while I buy the Times, then untie him and we all walk back. I then drop him off at the house and walk down to our preferred coffee shop (which does not sell the Times), and try to get a coffee and read a bit of said Times before said baby wakes.
Usually I am unsuccessful. Plan B involves setting up baby and Times on a couch, plying the baby with toys and then still trying to read said Times, at least a paragraph.
I mention all this because yesterday I was nearing the end of this Sunday-morning cycle when something amusing, but also very typical, happened.
Nico had bored of her toys and I had read at least half an article from the front page, so we decided to call it quits and head home. On my way out, I rolled her past a professor of mine to say hi. He and I then began chitchatting about stages of child developmental (this is a common topic among parents of babies and parents of older children). As we were talking, I inadvertently aimed Nico in the direction of a table full of elderly ladies. They were, of course, thrilled and began commenting on her eyes and her cheeks and her little baby feet, etc.
I was listening to my professor talk so only heard a bit of what the women were saying, but at some point it became clear that they were unsure what gender pronoun to use with Nico. A debate arose between them after a while and it grew progressively more heated. The “She’s a girl!” camp pointed out that Nico was wearing lavender socks. But then the “He’s a boy!” camp countered with the clearly male blue-and-red striped onesie shirt AND grey pants (can you get more male!?). The stroller was red and blue, which also seemed like a clue, but the jacket was brown and had some flowers embroidered on it.
Their battle grew steadily louder and I could see that at least one of the women was looking over at me every once and a while, hopefully, longingly. She wanted so badly for me to clear up this very important misunderstanding!
So I ignored her.
And eventually the ladies finished their coffee and left. Feeling very very unsatisfied, I’m sure.
I could have saved them the pain. Mothers of other baby girls strap over-sized bows to their daughters’ heads to help lower old ladies’ anxiety levels. Other options include the “Daddy’s Little Girl” t-shirts or ear piercings or tutus. For parents of baby boys, steering clear of pink, purple or flowers will usually suffice.
But I am both lazy when it comes to baby fashion and highly annoyed by the world’s fixation with sexing babies. This starts before the poor thing is even born (Do you know what it is?!) and then gains momentum as said baby grows and yet still refuses to develop natural gendered signs such as big breasts or a beard.
I’ve made it a new rule never to correct anyone when they use a gender pronoun with Nico. Before I would correct them and then add, but it doesn’t really matter. Because it doesn’t really matter. At least not to Nico.
After we left the coffee shop, I asked her to pose for a picture in the previously described gender-confusing outfit so I could show it to you, dear blog readers. As I was getting out my iPhone to make the shot, she promptly began to undress. As if to say: Eat this, you genderers!