When I tell people my daughter is going to be an only child, without fail, I get the same response. "Oh no, you need to try for a boy ... for your husband." As if somehow the whip-smart, quirky, hilarious, gorgeous human being standing in front of them just ain't good enough because there isn't something dangling between their legs.
Of course when I point that out (because yes, she got that whip-smart, quirkiness from somewhere y'all), they start backpedaling like crazy and throw out stuff like "oh, but, well, he needs someone to go to baseball games with him." America, I want to thank y'all for being so concerned about what's going on between my daughter's legs. Now do me a favor, would you stop telling her it means she doesn't matter?
Because when you start talking about how their dad "needs" someone else to be happy, that's what you're telling a kid: that she's not good enough. If my husband wasn't the kind of guy who enjoys spending an afternoon in his armchair with our daughter firmly on his lap watching her favorite movie du jour (this week that would be The Muppets, last week it was some My Little Pony flick ... he doesn't care as long as she's happy), she might even begin to worry that she'd done something wrong.
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Why would anyone do that to an innocent child? Make her feel like she'd made a mistake simply by being born?
Because our society still clings to a misguided notion that fathers need boys to do "boy" stuff with, and mothers need girls to do "girl" stuff with. Ironic, isn't it? We fuss about the genderization of toys by corporate America, but we do it ourselves. And it's not just for dads and sons or only children. We walk up to women who have three boys and ask if they're going to "try again" to "get that girl." As if her cup hasn't runneth over with love for her little men.
It's because I have a girl that the "he needs someone to play baseball with, kick a soccer ball around with, etc." idea really rankles.
My husband happens to be one of those dads who really wanted a daughter. Even when she crossed her legs during the sonogram and we were unable to find out the gender of our little Squirmy (as we called her), his faith was steadfast. He would have his little girl.
Would he have been happy with a son? Of course. We wouldn't have tried to get pregnant with the 50/50 chance if he wouldn't. But the fact that our newborn was a daughter was like the most delicious icing you'd ever tasted on a cake so exquisite one bite made you feel like you were seated in nirvana.
And I'm not just going to say this because I married him ... he is the kind of dad that every little girl needs. He takes her outside to kick a soccer ball around because it would never occur to him that a "daughter" couldn't do that. She has two feet, doesn't she? Indeed. On the other hand, he's the kind of dad who wouldn't dare let it slip that he finds dance recitals dreary and boring because goshdarnit, that's his little girl up there, and she is having fun.
Next time someone tells me my husband needs a son, I have an idea. I'm going to ask them what they think my daughter needs. Because I think she's already got it.
What's the most insensitive thing people have said about the gender of your child or children?
Image by Jeanne Sager