Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Which One Is the Boy?

We're at the grocery store. Ginger is sitting in the stroller sucking pacifier happily. Hazel is standing next to me, excited to help me pay for our goods. The old man behind me is grumpy and impatient. The old lady in front of me is paying and gathering her things, also admiring my children.

"They're so good," she says in her native Brooklyn accent. "And they're both adorable." I beam. She looks closer. "You can definitely tell they're brothuh and sistuh." I stop beaming.

"Sister and sister," I correct firmly, and miss her fumbling reply by turning my back on her and lifting Hazel to help me pay for our things. When I turn back she's gone. I hope she feels stupid. I know I think she is.

On the way out I inspect my girls. Hazel is wearing a purple shirt and pink shorts, pink plastic clip in her hair. Ginger is in a bright pink flowered onesie and mulberry cords with a ruffled hem. Pink and purple pacifier clip. Nothing I would let a son of mine wear in public. I think to myself and wish I had asked her, "Which one is the brother?"

Of course I assume it was Ginger since she has the short hair of any 6-month-old. But the pink is impossible to miss. I should be used to it by now - it happens too often - but I continue to be surprised every time. I stop into Starbucks for a passion tea lemonade, and we make our way home as I compose this essay in my head.

I am reminded of a time when Hazel was about 7 months old. My good friend Kat was visiting and we were off to a day in Manhattan. Hazel was mistaken for a boy all the time so I was sure to dress her in pink and purple galore, including a hair clip that barely stayed in. See for yourself. And sure enough, before the day was done, a stranger had asked, "He a boy?"

When I first moved to NYC, I thought this mistake was only made by certain nationalities that favor boy babies over girls. But as time went on I realized this ignorance and lack of social tact knows no ethnic bounds, today case in point.

Last time someone called Ginger a boy I was better prepared and told them to look closer and guess again. But today I am caught quite off guard, and hoping this writing will help me get over it. I am comforted and gratified by what Kat said that day in Manhattan, and what she would say again today in conclusion to the entire topic:

"People are idiots."


Therese said...

luca was often mistaken for a girl, although he was dressed in blue everything.

speaking of luca, the name still throws people. there have been times when they've asked his name while he's standing there next to me, and they say, "oh, hi luke!" and i say, "no, it's luke-ah," and they look at him again, like, "i could've sworn he was a boy."

don't these people watch ER? one of the hottest drs on there was a luca. i should add that if the person asking his name is italian, luca becomes their new best friend. they LOVE that an australian boy has an italian name.

don't be too offended by the mix-ups. several things could've been at play here, including bad eyesight. (are the offenders mostly older people?)

Shells said...

Happened all the time for me, both ways. It isn't cultural, and in most cases, I think they were just trying to be nice and make conversation. My standard response was to ignore it and not worry about it. One particular instance that was funny was when I was with my parents and Hilde in Virginia Beach. She was about 11 months and she was walking down the boardwalk a few feet ahead of us in a pink shirt, pink skirt, pink shoes. A lady said to my parents, what a beautiful grandson. All I could do was laugh.

Jenifuz said...

People are so dense sometimes. I think if you put a sign on your kid saying boy or girl, they'd still get messed up!! I think your girls are absolutely darling! And 100% girls!!!

Footes said...

As I read this I could not help but think welcome to my life. SInce poor Aly is so bald this seems to be a weekly occurance for me and she is almost 2!

I remember When we were in Vegas I had just finished changing her and I was pulling up the tights under her skirt when a lady stopped and said what a cute little girl did a double take apologized and said "Sorry sometimes these little boys are so cute I think they are girls." I couldn't even respond fast enough I was so hurt by the fact that she did a double take and decided that Aly was a boy. and she was even wearing tights and a skirt!

I have decided that even if I tattooed across her forehead "Hello I am a girl" People would still comment on my cute little boy. Oh well.

kat said...

i'm totally slow on the draw, but the phrase indeed does still hold true. people really are idiots.

to me, your girls have always looked like girls. bald or not.

however, people with questionable-gender-looking children should not get angry when said child's gender is mistaken by a stranger when said child has a NAME that usually indicates a gender. e.g., ADAM. don't name your daugher adam and then get upset when i ask you to stop your son from taking all the buttons off the wall and spreading them all over the floor (of the fabric store where i made my 'millions' in high school).

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