Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Another Annoying Form of Ignorance

This is my adorable nephew Zachary. Note... he has curly hair. OH MY GOD, there's a LITTLE BOY that has curly hair? IT CAN'T BE! Somehow, the majority of people who interact with my sister at various shops and stores where they live comment to her, "Oh, she's a beautiful child, look at her curly hair!" My sister is all, "Uh, that would be HE. I know it's difficult to imagine a boy with curly hair, for God's sake, but he's got it. And you probably missed the fact that he's wearing all blue and green and orange, with trucks or footballs or cars or trains or dinosaurs or other boy-related paraphernalia on his clothing... but actually, he's a boy." And people are shocked. "I just thought, with all that curly hair... he was a girl."
I had this mistaken gender issue happen SO often when Hootie was a baby. Like 2:1, people thought she was a boy. Now, I am not the kind of mother who dressed her daughter in all pink and ruffles and those funky little lacy headbands or scotch-taped a bow to her head. So on days when my child was dressed in something you could only describe as "unisex", it stands to reason that the populus at large could take a 50/50 stab and think she might have been male. But when she's dressed head to toe in pink? Or when she's got two little pony tails sticking up off the sides of her head like Shrek ears, with little ribbons on them? HOW can a person say, "HE's so cute?!" It is a stretch, I know, to assume that just because her darling little face is so delicate and feminine, that everyone else can see that and surmise she's female. I know I have never mistakenly called a male child female or vice versa, so I know it is possible to deduce this by looking at their little faces. But in the event that a person isn't on the same wavelength that gives me this ability, HOLY COW PEOPLE, LOOK AT THE CHILD'S CLOTHING! And if it is still somewhat ambiguous, tell the parent, "You have a darling baby" or "Your child is just precious!" You don't have to associate a gender to such a comment!
I have to assume it is just another annoying form of ignorance, that goes along with other forms of ignorance when random strangers try and interact with children they do not know. Like when people go to touch the baby. HELLO, that is RUDE. Generally speaking, I don't go up to other people's children and TOUCH them. That is an invasion of that child's space. Or, people coming straight at me with their hand to touch my belly when I was pregnant. I thought I was a lumbering ox those last few months, but come at me with your hand, you stranger, and I'll show you how fast I can move! I cannot tell you how many bullets I dodged in that arena, and how many times I had to tell people, "I am guessing you meant no harm, but it JUST isn't appropriate to attempt to touch a person's belly that you do not know, without permission." And people generally get OFFENDED by comments such as this. As though I am supposed to just endure this, for fear of hurting their feelings. What about MY feelings?


ToastedSuzy said...

They used to call mine a girl too, and when I corrected them, they'd say, "Aw, well he's pretty enough to be a girl!"

And this is when he was twelve.


Actually, though, he recently got his beautiful long hair cut off because he was sick of all the buzz-cut army guys around here thinking he was a girl.

Poor kid. He's just too cute!


Kristin said...

I was bad. I mean, I was really bad. I absolutely loved being pregnant. I had it easy in that it physically felt good to me, I was diggin' the whole mother and child thing, I didn't have any complications and the symptoms and side effects most women experience were pretty mild or non-existent for me. I just didn't realize I was a hair-trigger bitch.

Tras, I jammed my finger up an old man's nose. He walked right up to me in Home Depot and patted my belly with a hearty chuckle. No introduction, no warning, no Mother May I? So, if we're invading one another's personal space, let's go full tilt, shall we? It's still embarrassing. Now I realize that he was just being nice but it tweaked me at the time.

With regard to touching children without the parents permission: we're still primates. Stick your hand near a mammal's young and you'll pull back a bloody stump. Still, culturally speaking, it's ok for some people. Not too long ago a local woman had the cops called on her for leaving her sleeping baby outside a store in its carriage. She's Russian, very recently emigrated, and that's the custom there. The only thing separating them was a plate glass window and a whole new social conscience.

Trasi said...

Okay, I never shoved my finger up a man's nose, but sometimes people just need to learn a friggin' lesson! My GOD.
I also heard it's rude in the Mexican culture NOT to touch the new baby, because it means you think they have bad mojo or something. So I try to be more lenient when the strangely overblonded aging Mexican woman at the grocery gets all up in Hootie's face, especially when she was in the Bjorn front pouch... because in her culture, she's being polite by cooing at her and touching her shoulder. I did tell her if she must touch the baby, please do so on her shoulder. So I'm FLEXIBLE, people.