A surprising conversation:
“Owen, are you a girl?”
“Are you a boy?”
“No!” (as in, you are being so ridiculous)
“Well, what are you, then?”
“Owen!” (You guys are so silly).
We’ve tried variations of this conversation several times now, and still can’t get him to admit that he is, in fact, a boy. It’s a bit weird in that he recognizes the gender of other kids (in real life and in books), but I guess (because he’s at the centre of his own universe) he’s under the impression that he’s the only Owen and “boy” and “girl” are what you call everyone else. What does he think when I call him “my favourite boy” or “good boy”? No idea.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t want to know “what I was having.” I liked the idea of the surprise (and it was a lovely one). I hadn’t really thought about it, but once I started shopping for unisex baby clothes, I realized that I was not super-keen on the labelling of babies as rocket-ship or butterfly obsessed from the moment of conception.
But I was hoping for a boy or a girl. And I was even kind of worried that I would have a child with ambiguous genitalia or something. I was reading quite a wonderful novel recently, Annabel by Kathleen Winter, which the early life of Wayne (Annabel), who is born as a hermaphrodite but whose parents (particularly his father) try to raise him as a boy. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but imagine how difficult it must be to raise such a child, especially in a world so split along pink and blue lines.
On the other hand, I’d never go as far as the parents of baby Storm, who refuse to divulge the gender of their child to anyone outside their immediate family. I can see that they want to make a point. Maybe the most important thing about a baby is not whether it’s a boy or a girl – but it’s the easiest question a stranger can ask about a newborn, no? What else do you ask… hey, stranger, how was labour? Anyway, without getting into the whole controversy, I’ll just say this: even if a child will have issues down the road with the gender into which he or she was born, I cannot see the problem of knowing what it was to begin with. I don’t think knowing you’re a boy or a girl can in and of itself be traumatic.
I think at some point Owen will realize what camp he falls in. For now, OK: he’s just Owen.