For years, when I thought of having a child, I thought of having a boy. I think it’s human nature – lazy human nature, perhaps, because I viewed my future kid’s childhood through the prism of my childhood. My dad threw the baseball with me in the backyard, so I’d be throwing the baseball in my backyard with my son; he took me to the games, and I would take my boy, too – there are tons of similar things I saw myself effortlessly passing on to my own son. In my mind, it was always a boy. (We’ve had three pets in the past 15 years, all males. My wife has complained.)
And on the flip side, I’d struggled to understand girls my entire life: How on earth would I raise one? I saw myself on the sidelines while my wife and daughter had the times of their lives. Besides, many fathers of daughters often end up with painted toenails at some point.
My wife and I waited a while before we tried to have a child, and once we finally began in earnest it was years of tough sledding and bad experiences. Eventually the very idea of ever having a child began slipping away – never mind the luxury of getting the boy I preferred. A healthy, happy baby – that became the goal, not what now seems (to me) like the selfish idea of having a boy who looked exactly like me and loved doing all the things I loved doing.
I don’t mean to say that people who want one gender over another are inherently selfish – as I said, I think it’s natural (and perfectly cool and OK). My specific circumstances led me away from “Give me a boy!” to “Give us a child, please.” Which now I realize is the right perspective; I’d like to think I got there through altruism, but desperation works, too.
When my wife got pregnant, we often talked about whether we wanted a boy or girl. I told her I was 51 percent hoping it was a boy, and before we knew the sex we practice-named the kid “Roy” in case it was my last shot at a son. My wife had constant morning sickness, which some say is an indicator there’s a girl in there. By the time we got to our and-the-baby’s-gender-is ultrasound, I was a little numb.
“Any guesses?” the nurse said as we looked at the ultrasound. My wife guessed girl. I did too.
And we were right.
And those were probably the happiest moments of my life – until the kid was born, of course.
Now literally I can’t imagine having a son, or not having a daughter. NJ is 2 and can already chuck a ball a decent distance, and we have the times of our lives when we play together. I was never gung-ho or strident about my preference for a boy, but it definitely was there. It went away for good literally the moment I found out that “Daddy’s little girl” would be the future. Once NJ came along it just seemed preposterous.
Things look good for me, too:
- The sex talk, and discussions about the body changes as it matures? My wife’s responsibility! Right?
- I’m already looking forward to intimidating NJ’s suitors with my trademark scowl and angry stare. I’ve already played the “That boy looks a little shady, does he have a job?” card at day care, for practice.
- NJ knows her baseball and football, even clapping gleefully the other night when her dad’s favorite team did something right.
- The sight of my awesome, beautiful daughter in a nice dress, beaming a smile at me or laughing at one of my dumb jokes, will warm my heart for years to come.
And I think that for my toenail polish, I’ll just go all-out with fire-engine red.
Bob Trott blogs about his adventures in parenting at Dad Solo.