He…she…he’s so cute!

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!

photo-7 copy

11 thoughts on “He…she…he’s so cute!

  1. Evelyn constantly gets told “he” is cute. People are forever saying, “He is so handsome!” It’s because I refuse to dress her in lacy, frilly, pink and purple things…or at least, not ALL the time. I hate how we force babies into a gender before they have any say in it, and I don’t want to do that to my own little one. Kudos to you for letting those ladies linger in their guesses!

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    • Good for you. There should be some mass mom movement to de-gender all colors, lace, frills, etc. when it comes to baby clothes. Like Take Back the Night. But Take Back the Color Blue. πŸ™‚

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  2. I say bollocks to them! Im fed up of seeing all this gender specific stuff! Pink for girls, blue for boys etc, its a world which sucks big time. And I hate it. At the age Nico is, its nice that they are not influenced by outside “ideas” and are happy so long as they are warm, fed and clothed. What we wear on the outside shouldn’t have to reflect who we are underneath and I believe half the worlds problems would be solved if we were seen as people, not 2 segregated groups – the males and the females. we are all the same species and, really, if the clothes we choose to wear, or dress our children in goes to help lable them as either gender and all that, then we really do live in some sad world! Good on you for being gender neutral! Nico looks lovely!

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  3. Take Back the Color Blue! We’re in! We refuse to gender-code our kiddo too, which basically means we shop in the boys’ section for our girl, since girls’ clothes are almost without exception frilly or pink. We may be extreme: it’s to the point where when I call her my girl, she says “I’m not a girl–I’m a kid!” though I don’t think she actually knows what she’s saying, since at age 2.75, she doesn’t have a full grasp of gender. Little old ladies tend to struggle with us in general, but there are a few awesome little old ladies who “get” us.

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  4. I’m reminded of a famous Charles Addams cartoon. Delighted nurse to new parents: “It’s a baby!” Meaning, who knows what it might have been…

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  5. Girls’ clothes may be exclusively frilly or pink, but try buying something for a newborn boy that isn’t sports or truck-themed or stamped with the words “lil’ slugger.” The entire world basically conspires to turn your one-month-old into a bro. And while we would definitely shop for a girl in the boy section, it’s perhaps more complicated to dress up your son in a pink lace tutu and plop a bow on his head. (Not that we won’t.)

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    • You’re so right about the trucks and balls and whatnot. We avoid those for our girl (kid) too–we’re all about the blue and brown and grey solids with no printing on them, which are much harder to find than trucks and footballs!

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    • I think the best (and by best I mean most disgusting) thing I’ve seen yet are tiny toddler pink sweat pants with the word Sexy across the butt. Perhaps we all need to revert to those white smock-dresses that boys and girls alike wore once upon a time….

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