Saturday, August 3, 2013

What To Say When Strangers Tell You That Your Daughter is Beautiful.....But You Really Have A Son

Act #215:  Take it as a compliment!  Because truly, it is.

My six-year old kid has dreamy, long, thick eyelashes.  And a top mop full of long, soft luscious frolicking curls.

He also has a penis.

Hence the frequent mistaken gender identity from friendly strangers.  Like the time at the airport security line when the TSA official told me, Ma'am, you have to let your daughter walk through the metal detector by herself.  And I stared at him utterly and totally confused, even suspicious - like I had a 5-pound bag of cocaine or small explosives hidden on me.  Or the time at the fast food check out counter when that little toddler boy ran up to my son and asked Are you a boy or a girl?  Or just the other day at a local coffee shop when the barista asked what color sprinkles my daughter would like on her hot chocolate.  It probably adds to the confusion a little that we've resisted, for the most part, in buying him clothes with any of the following:  tractor trailers, footballs, monster trucks, superheroes, and baseball bats.  If you have a boy you will know that this does not leave the average parent many clothing options beyond plain colored, or striped t-shirts.

I can't recall when this began, but it has happened frequently enough, that we've gotten pretty used to it.  I for one, no longer suspiciously appear like I'm trying to smuggle drugs through customs - even when I'm caught off guard.  So I thought I'd share some of my responses for other parents who also have ambiguously gendered children.  Note:  This list is only applicable to parents who 1.)  think that penises and vaginas are equally cool; and 2.)  don't currently own (or have ever owned) any apparel that says "Git 'R Done".

1.  If you are in a hurry and don't feel like engaging strangers who tell you your daughter is beautiful: Why thank you!  (Does it really matter that much for you to take the time to correct someone you'll probably never see again?  Your kid knows what his/her gender is. Who cares what a stranger thinks?)

2.  If a nice little old lady at church tells you your little girl is just darling: Why thank you!  He is a boy though, and we think he's beautiful too!  (I've found that in many cases, the complimenter is devastated once they learn of their mistake, so I tend to be as gentle as I can and not give off any impressions that the mistaken identification ruffles our feathers in any way.)

3.  If a creepy sexist dude asks if you have a boy or a girl, because he's looking to clarify (for his own sake) why your kid isn't sporting camouflage and a crew cut:  See last week's blog post, "It's Alright Not To Be Nice to Creepy Strangers:

4.  If you're really looking to change deep-rooted cultural and systemic attitudes about gender:   You know, it's so nice of you to take the time to tell me that I have a pretty little girl.  But actually, my kid is a boy.  Do you still think he's pretty?  Because we certainly do.  And thank you for calling him a girl.  What a huge compliment!  Also, since you are so kind, I know that you'll probably let other parents know when you think their kids are adorable. I bet that parents would love for you to tell them their daughters are also spunky, witty, wise, brave, and full of personality too!

Wonder what celebrities Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, and Cindy Crawford say when people tell them their sons are pretty?

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