Sunday, August 02, 2009

Back When My Daughter was a Boy.

My daughter was born with a head full of red hair. Of course, this fine thin hair didn't last, and she spent most of her babyhood with a crown sparsely populated by blonde hair.
As any mother knows, when you take your baby out in public, people are going to use the wrong gender specific pronoun to refer to your child.
If your daughter is in the pink floral baby bucket, wearing a dress with more lace and more ruffles than you can shake a stick at (without serious wrist issues, or giving the stick whiplash) and a huge flower on a headband around the kids head, some well meaning stranger will come up to you and ask "Oh, how old is he?"
Well, she got a lot of that, and I've often blamed the hair.
I recall being terribly surprised one day when someone asked me how old SHE was. Then I looked at her, and low and behold, she was wearing a navy blue sweatshirt with a football appliqued onto it. Yes, indeed, it was laundry day and that was a garage sale find my grandmother had stumbled accross well before Mongoosine made her debut, sans boy parts.
So yeah, people get the wrong idea.
Whether it is calling Mongoosine a boy because she had very little hair and it's just so hard to tell with infants, or my nephews constantly referring to Snapdragon as a girl. He does have quite a lot of hair, in their defense. Either way, people get the wrong idea.
We all have these preconcieved notions of how things should look and act. We have built schemas to which we expect the world to continue to conform. We presuppose all sorts of things based on far too little information.

I'm not saying "hey, don't grasp for a pronoun when talking about a child you don't know," I'm just saying perhaps we should look at why we grasp for the pronouns we do decide to use and be aware of our own preconceptions.

1 reflections:

HappilyDomestic said...

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