He's Not a Girl!
"You have such a beautiful little girl." "Wow, she's well-behaved." "How about an apple for your little girl?"
Argh! I can't stand it. We were at the Marin County Fair yesterday, playing the balloon-dart game. It was so cool when my son Kayne broke a balloon and won a prize. The booth guy, some scruffy, 50-something manly man with lots of chest hair and a dirty mustache, held out a small Shrek baby in a diaper and said, "I bet she'd love this little baby." After Kayne silently shook his head no, it got worse. "I know. She'd probably like this pink teddy bear, wouldn't she?"
Why don't people think before they speak? Sure, my kid's got gorgeous long locks of chestnut brown hair. And I'll admit his eyelashes are lovely. But yeesh, he's wearing dirty jeans with holes at the knee and a Transformers T-shirt and clutching a Batman backpack. Doesn't that give them a clue? Why can't people just say "your child"? Or, "Hey, Batman fan"? Why, oh why, do they assume he's a girl?
I'm afraid that Kayne will think he needs to have short hair like most other boys. I'm scared he'll think it isn't OK to be different. He loves his hair. But sometimes he says, "Maybe I should cut it." I hate that. It reminds me of when he was 4 and used to love wearing glittery red nail polish. But time and again, boys in his preschool and various adult males in his life would say, "Nail polish? Boys don't paint their nails," and he stopped wearing it.
I never know what to do. Should I correct the stranger? And if so, how? Usually I just slip in a loud he.
"Thanks, he's a great kid." "Yes, he loves apples," or "No, he doesn't want the baby Shrek or the pink teddy bear. Give him the football in the corner." But Kayne never says anything and I don't know if it's better to just ignore those comments or to correct them. I really just want him to know that it's OK to be himself, whatever that looks like.