Thursday, March 10, 2011


There's one conversation I had over and over when Susan was pregnant, which still bothers me. It went something like this:
Random Person: "So, do you know what you're having?"
Me (brightly): "A baby, I hope!" (Trying humour to head off the inevitable. Seldom works.)
RP: "No, I mean a boy or a girl?"
Me: "It's a boy."
RP: "Oh, that's great, congratulations!"
At this point I found myself - stuck. It seems uncivil to cavil at the sentiment. Yet I do want to know: why is the sex of the baby considered so important? Would you not congratulate me if I'd said "a girl"?

I discussed this with one of the innumerable, interchangeable midwives who attended Susan during her 47 hours of labour. The best explanation she could come up with was: "He can be an All-Black."

Now, far be it from me to express anything but the deepest respect for New Zealand's most cherished national heroes. They're a fine body of men, and may they enjoy the very best of luck. But really, just now, I'm not thinking of pushing baby Atilla in the direction of any particular career. And if the biggest difference between sexes is that males have a one-in-200,000 shot at being an All-Black, and females don't - that doesn't seem like all that much, to me.

There are, of course, many reasons to take joy in Atilla. If the greatest hope of New Zealand youth is that they have a 0.0005% chance of one day being on a certain team, we're all in trouble.


mumsie said...

Well, I've already told Susan that, judging by the photos she's mailed me, baby Atilla looks on course to have the build (if not the inclination) for RU. Some RU players are also great people - our late friend R., who died last October aged 86, had been one. He had also served in the Navy during the war and for his bread and butter he was a vet, specialising on horses and cattle.

Had Atilla turned out to be a girl, you would no doubt still have been congratulated. Possibly, because the girl would have had a chance to win a beauty contest.

Anyway, there is quite a difference between a girl and a boy - and a difference in parenting them. I recommend that you listen to the "Soliloquy" from Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Carousel, it's a gem.

Only 3 weeks to go till I shall see the little marvel in person!

vet said...

I know the song you mean. But if I recall aright, it ends with the singer concluding that he needs to turn criminal, a resolution that results in him getting killed.

And I'm loth to take moral guidance from a show that includes an impassioned defence of wife-beating.

M said...

Hello, and (aren't I the slow one) Congratulations!

I bet mumsie is correct. Boy or Girl, you'd be showered with "wonderfuls" either way by anyone who was interested enough to ask.

As far as musical choices depending on gender, I tended to be more of one to give the children the music and me the nap...would have to ask them what worked best for them. Taught them to operate the stereo at an early age. They're grown now and seemed to survive just fine. Both the boy and the girl. Mom of the year? Probably not, but no real harm done. ;)

Deadlyjelly said...

It's all good things: goodwill, human curiosity, showing (in)appropriate interest, trying to be involved in the big experience at arm's length. And it's a more socially acceptable question than: how's the mucous plug?

Anyway, why so coy? I mean, when people know you've been shagging, the baby's gender is hardly any more personal. Is it?

I'm glad you answered the question. Upon asking one friend, "Do you know whether it's a boy or a girl?", he responded, "Yes, but we're not telling". To which there's nothing left to say, except, "Ooh, I hope it's a PUPPY."


PS I WILL answer your email soon, promise. It's berating me from my Inbox