Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"When you're a boy..."

Have you heard of the Canadian couple that is raising their child gender-neutral? I’d imagine that if you found yourself in the elevator or the grocery store and innocently asked them, “boy or a girl?” you’d get an earful. It’s an easy story to joke about though. Mostly, it just seems like work to me. Parenting is a full enough experience without adding the extra complication of hiding a child’s identity.

On the other hand, I probably work equally hard to out Claire as a girl. I try to avoid the colors brown or blue altogether. We mainly have pink clothes anyway, but there is an occasional red or yellow mixed in there. If she wears one of these colors, I’m sure to signify her sisterhood with an accent of pink somewhere.

I didn’t expect to be this way. I didn’t expect to care. But there isn’t a day that goes by without someone referring to Claire in the masculine. Even when she’s screaming pink, people still think she’s a boy. Once when donning a dress, she got a “he” from someone! Maybe it’s because I’m privy to her private parts on a daily basis, but she just doesn’t look like a boy to me. It’s frustrating. George doesn’t like it either. When someone asks, “What’s his name?” George replies, “She’s named Claire” – with a distinct emphasis on the she bit.

I like boys just fine, and Claire doesn’t need to be girlie girl either. Toddlers and Tiaras isn’t in her future, and I’m sure Santa will put a toy truck or the like in her stocking this year. It’s just that I don’t want people to call her Bob, because that’s not her name. And I don’t want people to call her a boy, because she isn’t one. Unlike the Canadian couple, I am hoping that her true nature will become more outwardly apparent as she gets older. I’m really not a huge fan of pink anyway.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One half year.

Happy (half) Birthday, Claire! What a difference six months makes! What if you more than doubled your weight and grew a foot or so in a half-year’s time? It might be hard adjusting to your new body. You might just buckle under the weight of it all, literally and metaphorically.

Claire, on the other hand, has done it all with aplomb. Six months ago, she seemed trapped in a body not of her control. Her flailing arms scared her. Her hands clenched in perpetual fists. Her newborn frog legs curled into the fetal position, a muscle memory of the womb.

Now, her new physical form is taking her places it never has before. She grabs her toes and bangs on a piano, even tries to pull my lips off my face and eat computer wires.

I am in awe of my daughter. It’s a joy to see the world open up to her in new ways. What’s more amazing is that babies are in this constant state of change and motion. And they are na├»ve to the challenge of it all. They do not know what they do not know. It’s just what babies do. I find this notion inspiring. I think it’s high time I start acting like a baby.

Photo Source: Stu Baker, Flickr

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Smiles, everyone, smiles!

The same woman does all of the voice-overs for every musical toy on planet earth. Her voice is cheery and chipper, and probably of much better quality than the tinny toy speakers make it sound. She sings of incessant happiness and eternal sunshine. If by chance it did rain, I’m sure she’d be happy too – especially when she’s with you. Often times, she’s backed up by steel drums, in Caribbean-style arrangements of popular children’s songs. It’s as if life’s a perpetual vacation. If I weren’t breastfeeding or didn’t find the stridency so weary, I’d have the urge to join in with a margarita or two. Not really the vibe I want for my child. Right now, Claire doesn’t understand the words anyway. When she does, we’ll be sure to counter with Grimms’ Fairy Tales and some Billie Holiday.
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