I should start a series called "I Thought that Only Happened in China."
The subtitle for today's post is: "Why do people think my daughter is a boy?"
Today two different people thought Sophie was a boy.
Granted, she's fifteen months old. Boys and girls don't look very different when they're this age. And she does have a mullet. Not by choice, mind you.
In China, babies of all ages walk/ride around in split pants so their private parts show. That's how you tell if the child is a boy or a girl. The clothes the children wear don't tell you much.
For instance, a little boy could be wearing a frilly pink shirt and a white lacy bonnet, but you look at the gap in the split pants and you see, nope, it's a boy.
A little girl could be wearing a baseball cap and a shirt that says (in English), "I'm the little brother," but you look at the gap in the split pants and you see, nope, it's a girl.
Because my kids didn't wear split pants, my Chinese neighbors were often confused. Even if my baby daughter was in a pink dress with frilly socks and Mary Jane shiny shoes, they still asked me if she was a boy or a girl.
Actually, I take that back. They'd call her a boy and let me correct them. That's the polite thing to do. Assume boy, that way you don't offend anyone (because girls are, well, second best, right?)
I thought I was leaving all that behind when we left China.
It's true, I did leave most of it behind: the split pants and the overt sexism. But today, in America, I was surprised.
To help you understand, I'll describe Sophie's outfit. She was wearing a red long-sleeved shirt that said "Sweetie" on it. On the shirt was the picture of a gingerbread girl with little sparkly bows and a dress. Sophie was also wearing jeans, red socks and little brown shoes. When she was outside she wore a red coat with a fur-lined hood.
Twice, people referred to her as either "my son" or "Gabe's baby brother."
I guess they didn't see the "Sweetie" or the sparkles. I guess little boys often wear red coats with fur-lined hoods. Maybe I need to incorporate more barrettes into her outfit. Apply makeup, jewellery, a wig, maybe?
Do people just assume that if a baby is wearing jeans, she's a boy?
I'm seriously considering getting out a pair of split pants so that if people call her a boy I can lift her up to their eye level and say, "She's a girl. See?"
Actually, I don't think I'll try that. Child Protective Services would be all over me like cheap cologne. And I don't want my new carpets to be soiled with baby pee either. I seriously doubt Sophie would be able to tell me at her age if she had to "go." And I never learned to whistle like Chinese care-providers. They use the whistle to train their babies to urinate on command. That's how they keep their clothes, floors and sheets kind of/sort of urine-free when their two-month-olds wear split pants.
I guess I need to do more to feminize my daughter. Or else, I could just decide not to let it bother me.
After all, it doesn't bother her.
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