The Broken Pram
Before I knew what gender Baby was, I started shopping. There was a lot to buy. I fell in love with a particular pram for many reasons. All of them were, of course, practical. The pram was available in two colours. Blue or mauve.
I’m not a fan of mauve. And, whether Baby was a boy or a girl, the blue was a great colour. So, that was what we ordered.
Fast forward several months and I am walking down streets proudly pushing Baby in our blue pram and passers-by just love to pause and say ‘oh, what gorgeous eyes he has, isn’t he a handsome boy?’.
One day, the pram breaks unexpectedly. It’s far too difficult to take Baby anywhere without a pram. So, off we go to buy one very quickly. We pick the last one on the shelf to take home that day, and take it home we do.
We read the instructions and set it up in the living room. The pram is purple.
Now Baby is still getting compliments on their gorgeousness. But those compliments are ‘oh, hasn’t she got lovely eyes, and those long eyelashes’ and ‘she’s a very pretty baby’. It doesn’t matter what Baby is wearing. It never did.
I’m pretty sure that some of the people who stopped to compliment Baby’s gorgeous girly curls are the same people who called them a big strong boy only a week earlier.
I should tell you now that Baby is a boy.
“But why did you put a boy in a purple pram? That’s horrible!”
“Because his father is Emperor of Rome,” has become my go-to response to such shocked remarks.
Often, I wonder if I should bother correcting people. Baby IS gorgeous, and people want to tell me that. Should it matter to me if they ask ‘her’ name or ‘his’?
But then, I remember that the reason people look so horrified that they got it wrong is that they think it is a terrible mistake to make. Even the nicest of people, on realising that they used the wrong pronoun for my one-year old, looks flustered and apologises. Some people, like the above recipient of sarcasm, think that I have done something wrong. Remember the episode of ‘Friends’ where Rachel felt compelled to tape a bow to her daughter’s head?
Life is not genderless. Childhood is not genderless. As much as we try to encourage our little girls to play with construction trucks, society still feels uncomfortable seeing a boy dressing up his dolly in her best party dress.
We live in a world in which the most famous chefs: Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Gino D’Acampo, are all male but kitchen sets are still marketed as girly toys. Women can wear trousers, but it’s ‘cruel’ to let a boy wear a skirt.
Getting a baby’s gender wrong shouldn’t be that much of an issue. Since my baby was born, I haven’t done it once. And that doesn’t mean I haven’t been complimenting other babies. I just choose to do it like this.
“Isn’t your baby sweet?”
“Your baby is so well behaved!”
“Aren’t you gorgeous?”
Baby is a boy, but above all, Baby is a baby.