This is generally the sentence most parents-to-be warble out when pressed by others as to what their gender preference is for the coming baby. Expressing a desire for one over the other feels like not simply a matter of tempting fate (i.e. a Middlesex type scenario), but runs the risk of sounding ungrateful and parents-to-be, if nothing else, are constantly at pains to point how ‘lucky’ they are to be ‘blessed’ with a baby. And rightly so. The Doc and I roll out the same response. As long as it’s healthy… we chime, when in truth, what we wanted was another girl. But it is not to be. Come October, we will be due a little boy (or not so little, if my daughter is anything to go by).
Pregnancy is one of those states which is ripe with conjecture and evidentiary whimsy. You’re going to have a girl, I just FEEL it, some will say. Really. What could you possibly be basing that upon? I think to myself. But then, I myself am prone to such folly. I too felt I was having another girl. So much so in fact that I paid scant attention to boy names and generated a list containing only those of my favourites for girls. More fool me.
At my twenty week scan, once the nerves regarding all the other body parts had been allayed, the sonographer asked me if I wanted to find out the sex that day. Yes please, was my eager reply. “Well”… She said and then began to chuckle; “we don’t normally work in definites, but there’s little question of what sex this one is!” She cackled. I managed a weak giggle as I continued to stare at the monitor, not entirely sure what part of the humour I was meant to get. What was I even looking at? It was just blur with the odd protrusion. I tilted my head a bit, squinted. Then I began to make out what I assume were two legs with a third appendage somewhere in between. “Wait, is that…? What I’m looking at, is that…?” I spluttered. “That’s a penis” She replied. Full stop.
Indeed it was a penis. And even though it was likely to be no bigger then the head of a crochet hook, laid bare and enlarged on screen like that, it looked more like a cricket bat and equally as aggressive. Images began to flutter through my brain. All those crude sketches of dicks scrawled on the walls of my school toilets, the words of a former teen boyfriend (a real lapse in judgement there) who nicknamed his member ‘Jack the Ripper,’ Blackadder’s description of looking at “the last turkey in the shop.” Blurgh. Not a boy, I thought. Shivers ran through me as I looked at my swollen belly, covered in gooey ultrasound lubricant and I tried to keep my thoughts to myself.
I looked across at the Doc. “You must be pleased,” I said, artificially chipper. And in a complete reversal from the scan with our first child (he had wanted a boy, but had gotten a girl), he muttered “I wanted another girl.” Perhaps sensing the sonographer thought us a pair of ingrates, I decided it was time to pull up my pants and leave – which we duly did. As we strode through the park to the Lambeth Palace bus stop, we each attempted to pull the other up by spouting the virtues of having a boy. We’ll have the best of both worlds now… We should just be thankful, some people can’t even have children….cliché, cliché, cliché.
Why the aversion to boys, you may ask. Firstly, for both of us, it’s a point of reference thing. We have only had a girl and consequently, it’s all we know. A boy is new terrain (as arguably any baby is) and in a sense heralds a break in the perhaps misplaced continuity that the Doc and I had both presumed. Secondly, I don’t really ‘get’ boys; they confuse me and I find it difficult to relate to them. This could be a reflection of my own stroppy ‘madame’-like tendencies, but I understand and recognise the behaviour of girls better than I do boys and feel (I suppose rather obviously), a greater affinity with it. Thirdly, and rather unfairly (as this poor little creature has yet to even enter the world), I don’t like teenage and young adult males; my experience of them when I was that age myself has considerably marred my ability to think well of them. They’re rude, they smell, they bully, they ejaculate, they’d rather punch a girl to get her attention that confess to liking her. They were always such little arseholes. I don’t want to raise an arsehole. And to those male friends or friends with lovely sons, I must provide the following caveat: there are of course exceptions.
For the Doc (I now don my pop psychologist’s hat), there is a certain comfort in knowing that as daddy, he can do no wrong in the eyes of his little girl. Like many men with a Balzacian thread coursing through their bodies, he had always glorified the idea of a son in his mind. Someone to share the love of football with, teach cricket to, someone to continue his name, etc. – I’m sure there is a far more latent level of masculine narcissism to this, but these seem to be the ways in which it materialises in wistful conversation. But in having a girl, the Doc has realised how wondrously simple and gratifying it can be for a father to always be in favour. Conversely, the reality of having a boy has now got him thinking about the weight of responsibility in being a male role model.
For me, I am of course warming to the concept; my head slowly coming to grips with the tediousness of boys’ clothing (stripes, that’s your lot) and teaching him how to wash his penis properly (something I will clearly have to learn first myself). The idea of being so intimately connected to a being pertaining to a gender that has always caused me such consternation is both confronting and exciting. I’ll make sure I teach him how to treat women properly, I boast internally. But I am also wary of transplanting all my values and male-induced anxieties onto this poor boy, leaving him an emasculated pile on the floor before he even reaches puberty…
Easy Willow. Perhaps I should just concentrate on containing my own neuroses at this point, and let the unsuspecting sprog be born.
Maybe boys aren’t so rotten; they just have insane parents.