What’s sex got to do with it?

The Daddy Diary: Part 2

When your wife is a grown-up tomboy and your first toy was a doll, discovering the gender of your new baby doesn’t change much – not even the colour of the nursery

By Chris Lackner

“Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world.” Sure, The Kinks’ Ray Davies didn’t have parenting in mind when he wrote those lyrics, but they apply just the same.

Daddy DiaryBoy or girl? We’ve decided to find out what the stork is bringing (That is how babies are still delivered, right? I haven’t been to a prenatal class yet.). An ultrasound will soon tell us whether our family addition will be a “daddy’s girl” or a “mamma’s boy.”

For many couples, this big reveal shapes plans for the nursery, but it really won’t change the way we prepare for parenthood. We don’t plan on painting the baby’s bedroom blue or pink, or stocking up on toy trucks verses dolls. In fact, I’m pretty sure my wife is going to instigate an outright ban on anything pink and frilly if we have a girl (grandparents: you were warned).

Dr. Seuss had it right (let’s face it, he had a lot right): “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

The fact is, neither my wife nor I fit most of the gender stereotypes. Outside of an inexplicable fondness for the brutality of Monday Night Football and the occasional howl at the moon, I am far from an alpha male – and she is a far cry from a “girly girl.”

No matter what the feathered baby carrier brings, our child won’t be learn anything hands-on from me. But a son would be particularly out-of-luck. My wife is Mrs. Fix It in our house. Every time I even look in the general direction of a tool, I cause damage – either to myself, a household item, the house, or all three. I can’t tie a tie (sadly, my better half does this for me). I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, so I won’t be mentoring any child prodigy athletes. About the closest dad-son cliché I can pull off is being able to throw-and-catch a football and baseball (but not while running). For everything else, check with mom.

On the other hand, my wife hates to cook. The look she makes upon entering a grocery store is akin to being lit on fire while walking a plank above a school of starving sharks. So, daddy will be the chef. In my wife’s native country of Brazil, where machismo is still a powerful force, this is even more of rarity. So any son of ours will be better off in at least one department; in my experience, culinary talent is one surefire way to a women’s heart.

We live in an era where gender and sexuality are often fluid concepts. Our baby’s sex doesn’t really matter to us. More than anything, our newfound knowledge will eliminate half of our raging baby-name debate.

And our child will take his or her social cues from a non-traditional family unit. My wife is a loud, rebellious tomboy all grown up; I pay more for my haircut than she does. I’m a natural peacemaker; my wife is passionate, loud and swears like a drunken sailor (she’s working on that before D-Day). She hates girly colours and small talk; I’m more of a gossip queen. She’s competitive whereas I’m only competitive if it involves getting to the pub counter first. When I was a little boy my favourite toy was a soft, boy doll dressed in checkers; I named him “Doll” and carried him around with a yellow blanket called Ha-Ha. I’m pretty sure my spouse was only ever allowed to play with a soccer ball.

…We live in an era where gender and sexuality are often fluid concepts. Our baby’s sex doesn’t really matter to us. More than anything, our newfound knowledge will eliminate half of our raging baby-name debate…

One stereotype does often hold true. I think a child often forms its closest bond with the opposite-sex parent. And I think the average little girl is a bit more complex than the average boy (in fact, men don’t catch up until their 40s). Girls just have a better poker face, and are less prone to showing their hand. As comedian Louis C.K. says, “Boys just do damage to your house that you can measure in dollars, like a hurricane.” So, for me, a baby girl is a bit of a wild card, but that doesn’t in any way mean “fragile,” “delicate,” or “pretty in pink.”

…When I was a little boy my favourite toy was a soft, boy doll dressed in checkers; I named him “Doll” and carried him around with a yellow blanket called Ha-Ha. I’m pretty sure my spouse was only ever allowed to play with a soccer ball…

The most interesting women I’ve met in my life, including the one I fell in love with, can’t be described with tired adjectives like “emotional” and “sensitive.” And not all boys are rougher, dirtier, reckless – or more active. I was a dreamy bookworm from a young age, far more prone to imagining a mermaid living under our cottage dock than playing with cars and tools (though, as a child of the ’80s, I did go through the requisite Transformer and G.I. Joe phases).

At the end of the day, we’re just trying to shape the best human being possible. We’ll do our best to expose our child to anything and everything, and be open minded about their own choices and tastes (unless those desires run towards frilly, pink dresses). Would I love my child to share in my passions for reading and storytelling? Sure. But they could just as well end up being a track and field star or hockey player. If so, I’ll be there in the stands cheering them on (probably surreptitiously reading a book).

As a certain famous doctor once said: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

Bring on the baby girl or boy. And does anyone know how I can hire The Cat in the Hat to babysit?

 

The Daddy Diary continues in The Ex-Press, for past instalments, click here.

Illustration and logo by Victor Bonderoff, The Ex-Press
THE EX-PRESS, April 6, 2016

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