Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Baby Boy "Problem" I Never Saw Coming


I imagine that raising boys vs. girls gives rise to their own unique parenting challenges. However, I come from a family with a lot of girls. I am one of three sisters and so far my older sister also has all daughters. When we discovered that we would be having a boy I was incredibly excited! But I was also slightly anxious. I mean, I don't have lots of experience with little boys...but everything I've always heard made me think, "wow, we are in for a trip." (And what a crazy, fun trip our little Gabriel has brought us on indeed!)

Realistically speaking, all parents are in for a trip. Regardless of whether you have girls or boys, motherhood is something far different (and greater) than any babysitting or nannying (is that a word?) gig can prepare you for. Still, I think most mothers of little boys would have lots of helpful suggestions to other moms who are about to have a little boy - stereotypical things like how to protect yourself from getting urinated on during diaper changes, what laundry supplies provide the best stain-removing action, etc. Like I said, these kinds of things are stereotypes (and I'm well aware that plenty a little girl exists who can be every bit as messy or rambunctious as little boys are built up to be), but they are stereotypes I was somewhat mentally prepared for.

Currently my son is 10 months old and I'm happy to report that I think I have only been urinated on once (maybe twice?) during a diaper change. However, there is another thing that my husband and I have experienced quite unexpectedly since welcoming our little bundle of joy into the world...and I'm thinking that most of you would never guess what it is because this is often portrayed as a baby girl "issue."

People frequently mistake our baby for the opposite gender.

Here's the sweet, tired little man himself. Taken earlier this morning.

The first memory I have of this took place during our wedding anniversary trip to Miami. As I checked us in at the hotel front desk, the employees swooned over Gabriel - who was being a cute almost-8-weeks old baby, sitting in his car seat. He was sporting an orange onesie that read, "Pinch me, I'm cute." While I was waiting, a young man behind the counter proclaimed that, "She is beautiful!"

She? My sleep-deprived brain struggled to comprehend what just happened - but somehow I managed to follow up immediately with a surprised, "Oh! He's a boy actually."

All 3 of the employees behind the counter were surprised and the young man apologized profusely, explaining that his confusion stemmed from the fact that "...he is just so...beautiful!"

We all laughed it off and I certainly wasn't offended. I mean, Gabriel is beautiful, right? Sure, sure, all babies are beautiful - but most little boys look so blatantly like...little boys. Ever since birth Gabriel has had softer features than most little boys I've seen.

Long story short, I've heard many a mother lament the fact that their little, bald, girls who refuse to wear headbands or hair clips frequently get mistaken for little boys...but I have yet to encounter another mother whose little boy constantly gets mistaken for a little girl! I'm sure I'm not alone in this, though.

In the past 10 months of his life, Gabriel has been mistaken for a girl on too many occasions to count. In fact, it happened 3 times just this past week. Typically this happens when he's wearing colors most people consider to be "gender neutral" (yellow, green, white, orange, etc.). However, this also occurs when I dress him in outfits that I think most people in our society would deem very "boy"ish. Since I've started always running errands with him wearing this hat,

the number of times he gets mistaken for a girl have drastically reduced in number. He could be wearing pink or purple but if I add that hat suddenly it registers with strangers that Gabriel is a boy. Pink or purple without the hat would certainly lead to people thinking he's a girl (for the record - we haven't dressed him in either of these colors yet). Take the hat off, though, and an outfit of the darkest blues, greens, or gray won't necessarily stop strangers from referring to him as a "she." Aren't clothing choices and societal norms such funny things sometimes? Regardless, I love that hat.

Honestly, I've never been offended and nowadays I'm no longer the least bit surprised when this happens. After all, he is a baby. Sometimes (especially when wearing onesies) it's truly difficult to tell whether or not babies are boys or girls. At this point, I'm very used to politely explaining that my baby is actually a boy - but it never ceases to fill me with wonder and give me a little chuckle. Realistically, it's not at all a "problem" - but this just goes to show that regardless of how much you think you're prepared for motherhood, there will always be those little surprise situations along the way. 

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."
-Angela Schwindt

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