How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Leave My Son Alone, Please?

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A dude can express himself in many ways...

Why people say and do things around babies that make them appear clinically insane is well beyond my intellect.

I’m neither a germaphobe nor a control freak, but seriously, what mental train derails off its mental track that makes bystanders say “What a cute little girl!” to my son, Finn, when he was nine months old? What “friend” tries to shove their dirty water bottle in his mouth and lets him chew on the paper wrapping? I’ll tell you. PEOPLE.

Snooty people suck.Snooty? Snotty!

We walked into a high-end clothing store in Beverly Hills one day (because we liked being abused and ignored), and a clerk sourly said, word-for-word, “Looks, like someone isn’t taking care of you. Are your parents not loving you enough?” He wasn’t kidding.

Sir, would you like to see a magic trick? Watch your job vanish into thin air!

The next time you people shovel any of that on my child or start ‘russian-rouletting’ a gender there, slick, do this for me: stop, look and reassess the situation.

If you are the gender-swapping/insanity-spewing assailant:
Go gender neutral even if the kid has on a blue baseball hat with red letters spelling out the name “WILLIAM”, his sky blue stroller is adorned with balloons that say “IT’S A BOY” and the father says, “This is my son, WILLIAM.” Keep your crazy to yourself. You don’t know how much sleep that dad has had. It might be a ruse he concocted to start a fight with you.

If you are the assailed:
Stare the punk down and say, “Listen, you. You call my son a girl again (or my daughter a boy again), I might have to forget which sex you are and beat you to death with this Tickle-Me Elmo.”

Now, I’m not advocating violence or the threat of it, but let’s stop the insanity. Anyone else have this problem?


74 Responses to “Leave My Son Alone, Please?”

  1. M Violet says:

    LOL!!! @ “Beat you to death with this Tickle-Me Elmo.”

  2. Stephanie G says:

    I had Braelyn dressed in a pretty pink dress with a bow in her hair and someone told me that my little BOY was adorable. I also had someone else hand her 2 paperclips to play with…people amaze me…

  3. Tad says:

    I’ve learned the HARD HARD way to approach all other toddlers with gender-neutral, age-neutral, data-gathering statements.

    Approach someone with, “Wow – she’s walking great…how old is she, 16 months?” — and you’ll no doubt get back,

    “AHEM….__HE__ is almost 3, THANKS.”

    It’s skewed by the fact that my little girl has always been big for her age, so I instead start off with something like, “Wow – fast runner! How old?” Then they will usually say, “Oh, yes, he’s 2 – and he loves to run!”

    Saves one from the unpleasant shoot-self-in-foot comments.

    • charlie says:

      Tad, this sounds like the definitive guide on etiquette to me.

      Metaphorically, you don’t want to be that drunk guy at the party forgetting everyone’s name and spilling your drink everywhere.

      A simple question like you posed works on many levels.

    • Joanne Burch says:

      Good suggestion.
      I had a small, cute boy. LOL

    • Krista says:

      Yes! Vague, ambiguous statements are the way to go!

      I always like to assume I’m going to be wrong about the gender even if they are wearing a shirt that says “I’m a girl!”. There are a lot of sarcastic two year olds out there.

  4. Desiree says:

    I get the question: Are they twins?” Constantly.

    Sometimes I even get a “Really?”

    Uhm, no. It was BOGO day at the hospital, and their dad walked by the rack – you know how guys are about things at eye level, they just have to have them.

    Geez. If they look exactly like one another and are the same size, weight, age, everything, they’re freaking twins! Stop asking.

    Maybe I just need a “Yes, they’re real twins” t-shirt.

    Actually, that shirt would work whether I have my kids with me or not.

    • charlie says:

      Yeah, I’m gonna go with you on the ‘not wearing a t-shirt that says you have real twins…’. Not sure why. Just gonna.

    • Emily says:

      I know exactly what you mean this is ALWAYS the first question out of any persons mouth to me as well. I have the hardest time not getting really sarcastic at the stupidity of the question.
      Mine are fraternal not identical, though I often dress them alike.
      My second favorite dumb question (more of an assumption really) is ” Oh and this is the older one” (pointing at the second born twin cause he is bigger).
      Guess they figure he really shot up in that 2 minutes.

  5. Sarcasmicrph says:

    My 3-year old daughter still gets called a boy. Granted, she has little hair. But she has been called a boy while wearing a pink dress, with pink bows in her hair and pink nail polish. Plain and simple, people are just stupid.

    • andy says:

      That is megaton stupid right there. Yikes! I’ve noticed that the people who tend to do this are more often people without kids, so at least we don’t have worry about too many of these morons peeing in the gene pool.

  6. Irishtrash5 says:

    I can’t even comment, I wanna smack people, just remembering it…

  7. Rockababy says:

    Hahahaha! I love it! It’s so true isn’t it? Another one of my favorites is, “excuse me…your baby is crying!” REALLY!!!!! Wow, thanks genius! “aren’t you going to pick her up?” Ummm…actually, NO! I’m not going to pick “him” up, but that’s because I’m obviously a bad parent!

  8. Shira says:

    I don’t take the gender swapping thing seriously. But then I’ve got a special gift for making that mistake. With that said, if you dress your little boy in his sisters clothes and expect me to remember that you have a son just because I live around the corner from you when I see you once every 6 months I still say I’m not responsible for remembering.

  9. Maryam says:

    Yeah I’m not even going to get into the mistaking the gender thing cuz I’ve realized that clearly people r stupid and/or blind. Now I get “are they twins?” every damn day and it’s all I can do not to scream.

  10. I don’t think this mistake is as bas as asking a woman who’s not pregnant, but has a bump, “When are you due?”

    Unfortunately, i’ve done that on more than one occasion (idiot!) and been wrong.

  11. Shelli says:

    Stressed much? I have a little girl who is so girly looking it’s unimaginable that anyone would mistake her for a boy, however, I too have been asked about my “little boy”. I do not take offense because I know people aren’t trying to insult me or my kid. It just happens. I refuse to walk on egg shells for fear of offending someone. It’s true what “they” say.. let the small stuff roll off.

    I do believe if you’ve got a little boy and his hair is so long it’s past his ears or he’s already wearing a pony tail, well, you’ve set yourself up for people asking about the little girl. I’m not saying you’re wrong to let his hair grow long, it’s all personal choice, but our choices do have unintended consequences, sometimes.

    • zoe says:

      Agreed. I don’t care, cause mine really *is* a beautiful child, plus, calling him a girl is not an insult… Plus, yes folks he is indigenous, and therefore in tradition to wear long hair. PLus, so long as it doesn’t so much as flitter across your brain, the idea of touching him, we’re cool.

  12. Klode says:

    It happened to me the other as i posted a pictures of my daughter on my mothers wall on facebook. Shes dressed in pink and have earrings on the picture. Someone had to say: Oh what a cute little boy….

    Come on people…. dont you have eyes?

  13. Ro says:

    Ugh, I’ve done the gender mix up once recently. I really was paying more attention to my son who was just learning how to walk. The baby boy had on a white onsie and dark blue pants. His face was so cherub like that I thought it was a girl. I was so embarrassed. I have to remind myself daily not to use gender unless I’m absolutely sure.

  14. Sarah says:

    I had three people tell me my son is “such a pretty little girl” – while he was wearing a onesie that read “CHICKS DIG ME”. Ummmm….

  15. Dawn says:

    Its impossible to make my 2 four-yr-olds behave constantly while in public, and they have strong opinions about everything. Lady in line behind me at the deli pointed out that my daughter’s pants were falling down. I said, “She wears them with her crack hanging out because she insists everything she wears gets in her hiney. And she refuses to wear underwear because they touch her hiney. I’m painfully aware that her drawers are droopy, thanks.” I mean, if you invite yourself into my world, be prepared to get the full details, right?

  16. Karen says:

    When my daughter was 10 months old, I took her to a coffee shop. It was summer, she was wearing a red summery outfit with white butterflies on it. Cute little straps, ruffles, the whole bit. Plus, she was wearing her hearing aid with a PINK head band. (special kind of aid)

    Two old men said, “How old is your little fella there?”


    When my son was 6 months old, I had him in the sling, and a woman walked up to me and sniffed his head. Smelled him. It was as weird as it sounds.

    • mommytigerwilleaturface says:

      Wow, whatta freak. There was a stalker-type girl I worked with when I was in college who had a thing about smelling people, so that story just makes me creeped out on so many levels. Luckily that has never happened with either of my kids – I’d probably have reflex-slapped their head away from my baby! :S

  17. Leah says:

    Oh my goodness I can’t even explain my rage when I tell people that anything my 8-month-old daughter has in her hands she puts in her mouth and they still insist on giving her things like paper napkins. What part of “she WILL eat it” don’t you understand? But it’s so cute! Ok, then.. YOU stick your finger in her mouth to get out the chunks of soggy paper before she chokes on it.

    • Melissa says:

      Oh my gosh, I know what you mean! How hard is it for some to people to understand….Just reminds me of the time that an elderly (lovely, but still) Japanese lady tried to give my 9 month old a boiled lolly, those things are hard as cement and would shatter even the strongest of teeth, so of course my baby will choke on it!! GRRR

  18. Oh yeah! I’m an adoptive Mom, and my kids are of a different race. I’ve had people ask me how much they cost, tell me that the people in their birth country hated girls and that that is why they were abandoned, ask me why I didn’t adopt “one of our own” – as in – a white, american child. I’ve had a guy at the Honda dealership say to my EIGHT year old that her younger sister isn’t her REAL sister and I wasn’t her REAL mom, completely unprovoked or even part of a conversation, he just said it after staring at them for awhile, what the hell?! You wanta see a mom jump across a counter and pin a grown man to the wall with her eyes? His women co-workers had to step between us. Honestly. I think that if everyone just stopped and asked themselves before speaking; is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? We would all be in a better mental state.

  19. CobyLyn says:

    Thanks for the warning! 😀

  20. JeninCanada says:

    My worst one was when I was at the mall with my son, he was still small enough for a stroller so less than a year and a half (he just refused after that age), and some freakin’ lady I was randomly having a conversation with STUCK HER FINGERS IN HIS MOUTH CHECKING FOR TEETH. I’m not even kidding. I was gobsmacked. It was all I could do to not yank her off of him and/or punch her in the face.

  21. Carla says:

    I have had the gender reversal thing happen several times with my first girl, even with pink and bows on, but nothing is as bad as what happened to my friend. She was in a grocery store with her baby in tow. He has bright red hair and apparently that was a novelty to one older couple. The woman came over and started cooing over him and then proceeded to pick him up out of the cart and take him over to her husband to show him! The couple didn’t speak English, so my friend had a hard time communicating to them that it was NOT OK!

  22. Christina says:

    Both of my kids were born with tons of hair that they’ve kept – and its quite amazing that my daughter looks almost 100% like her brother at that age…she’s just chubbier and shorter and he was long and skinny.

    I completely understood when I overheard a mother tell her daughter when looking at my son “WOW! Look at that hair! I hope that’s a girl cuz you were completely bald as a baby.” I’d feel like I got the short end of the stick if my daughter was a bald baby and saw a boy with a full head of thick hair, too.

    I think that’s my only run-in with it…excepting my husband who kept calling her a him when we brought home #2 =p

  23. Katie says:

    I love to read about all the crazies in the world. We routinely get stopped to give our candy (really?! yes, THAT is what I want to teach her, candy from strangers is cool)…when she was under a year old we had her in an infant car seat with one of those covers that zip over it to keep her warm & the greeter at Walmart would get her hands down in there and then make snide remarks about how she wasn’t wearing boots. I just try to laugh it off like she’s a senile old busybody….my friend was with me one time when it happened as asked her if she was offering to buy my daughter boots and if not told her that she should keep quiet…it’s always Walmart greeters for me, one of them who I swear is a meth head ALWAYS freakin touches my daughter or tries…we have called and complained to her manager, said something…it doesn’t matter I do not want Cracky McCrackwhore giving my toddler a contact high with whatever it is she is smoking…now if we see her we have a game plan, husband takes the daughter and rushes through no stopping and I physically step between Cracky and my girl. This has worked, because God help her if she actually wants to get confrontational about it her last 2 teeth won’t have to wait to rot out of her head. -_-

  24. HaZe says:

    I can dress up my 10-month old daughter in a pink dress, frilly headband, frilly underwear and white stockings, and STILL some “blind” ppl keep asking me if she’s a boy. *sigh* Oh and I just dont understand why people think its ok to simply come up to my 4-yr old girl and pinch her cheeks, or hold her face etc etc. It bugs my daughter and annoys the hell outta me. Just because she’s a little chubby and has big eyes doesn’t make her your personal doll! So very NOT cool.

    • Manon Alexe says:

      My daughter has started growling at people who touch her. I hate it, cos its rude, but I don´t stop her either. Don´t touch unless she says its cool!!

  25. NickyH says:

    Once i went out with my lil one, and someone actually asked ‘She’s so cute, is it REALLY your kid?’…. no i bought her from the ‘oh-so-cute’ section of the pediatric ward…

  26. BCE says:

    Our little guy has been blessed with super curly blonde hair and vibrant blue eyes. We have let his hair grow out a little, but his clothes scream all boy! If we are out shopping or what not, it’s inevitable that someone will probably call him a girl. My wife looks them in the face and says ” tell that to his nuts!”. Gets em every time!

  27. Anna says:

    “What a cute little girl!” to my little man dressed in camo……

    I love when ppl do the “the look down” and then start their sentence with “it’s your first right?….” You just know instinctively STUPID is gonna come out of their mouths. So nowadays (my son is 5 months) i do the “i don’t know you so i’m gonna lie” and say “He’s my fifth. Boy do they grow up fast!”

    Ppl tend to be A LOT LESS judgmental if they think it’s not your first kid.

    That’s how I can get away with breastfeeding on demand, no sleep schedules, wearing just a short sleeved onsie when it’s hot outside (him not me) etc etc etc.

  28. James says:

    @ nickyh I had that, but then my boy’s are bith quite ‘pretty’. My answer is “Who’d have thought the big ogre could have cute kids, right?” and watch them do the embarassed verbal dance.

    Still chuckling about tickle-me elmo. Although for a real comedy beatdown, you need something with a squeaker in it.

  29. Evonne says:

    you wanna get swooped on while innocently trying to grab a few groceries? try carrying a premmie bub in your arms in the only supermarket of a small/isolated town! I’m sure I got to meet most the town that way. It’s a bit late now but in hindsight perhaps I should have stuck a sign on my back that told them his gender, age, birth weight, due date, not my first so don’t need a ton of advice thanks, yes my arm is dying and yes he’s screaming cause he’s hungry and if I could just get out of here a bit quicker I could deal with that. Thank you very much ;oP

    • Evonne says:

      oh and the name – they all had to know the name!!

      agree with James too – the squeaker is something of a necessity :o)

  30. Lacey Sutton says:

    I usually give the gender-thing a pass – afterall 1) it doesn’t matter to toddlers if people think they’re girls or boys and 2) I kept messing up in MY head and thinking of my son as a girl for the first few months of his life… I even had dreams where he was a she. Now he’s 17 months and as BOY as they come, so it’s really easy to remember. I did have someone tell me what a beautiful girl I had with “her” full head of curls… so I gave him a haircut the next day. Too bad, he really WAS a cutie with curls 😉
    (As for the picking my son up/giving him things… haven’t encountered that too much. He’s much more the TAKE/try to talk people out of things type. He’s really sweet and persuasive too… I’ve had people start to hand him knives because he’s pointing and talking in his little chipmunk voice. I have to say “No! Be strong! Do not give in to the toddler!!”)

  31. Jill says:

    Over Christmas, a number of well-meaning strangers referred to my son as a girl. I graciously corrected them and chalked it up to his outfit being somewhat gender-neutral. However, on his first birthday we spent the morning at church and I had him all dressed up in a blue button up shirt, blue skinny jeans and a blue striped tie. He was wearing a pin that said “Birthday Boy”. SOMEHOW a woman missed all of these gender cues and told me I had an adorable little girl…I mean….how??? How much more obvious can I get????

  32. Meaghan says:

    When did we get to a place in society when mistaking the gender of a toddler is THE WORST OFFENSE EVER? People mistake my little guy for a girl half the time because he has eyelashes that don’t quit and I tend to dress him gender neutral because a penis doesn’t equate TRUCKS DIRT AND SNAILS. And I never correct them because a) it’s not offensive to me – it’s not a terrible thing to be a girl and b) I will never see that old lady behind me in Target again in my life.

  33. Rochelle says:

    I always get “are they twins”. I just want to yell are you f**ing serious. She’s 8 years old and chocolate colored skin and he’s 6 and mellow yellow. They look nothing alike.

  34. Cassie Davis says:

    My Daughter’s name is Stevi (Pronounced Stevie) and I had someone tell me “oh your son looks like a girl”

  35. Shanna H says:

    Urgh…I feel your pain. My daughter didn’t have much hair for the longest time. Even at 3 years old her kinky-curly, short blond hair gave the impression she was a boy. Despite dressing her in girls clothing, I would still hear, “What a cute little boy!” I tried to cut people slack for a time, but after a while, I would politely correct them. They would feel embarrassed, and I would quietly walk away. She finally got longer hair, and people don’t make the mistake now. Still, I agree with you. Gender neutrality, much better situation for all;)

  36. Liz says:

    My lil natural born red-head is constantly asked “where’d you get the red hair from?” She’s 8 now and just replies “from my orange haired Tabbycat.” It usually gets people to think about their question more. I also often get asked if it’s natural. Yes. I dye my young daughter’s hair each month. Sheesh.

  37. tinu56 says:

    I was at the grocery store with my daughter. She was dressed from head to toe in neon pink frills and ruffles. Literally, BRIGHT NEON PINK, and as we’re going through checkout the bagger reaches over and grabs my daughter’s pink ruffled sock and give her foot a little shake, and say, “What a sturdy little lad! How old is he?” The checker looked at him, in obvious horror, and say, “I just love HER hair bow! SHE is so cute!” The checker saved the bagger’s life by pacifying me because I was seconds away from beating him to death with my giant key ring (it’s huge).

  38. Valery says:

    I’m sorry, but why on earth does it matter? Is it really that crucial to you that your baby’s gender be obvious and unimpeachable? Who the hell cares if someone thinks your girl is a boy or vice versa? It’s not going to affect your child’s genitalia and at such a young age, it’s really not likely to affect their personal gender identity either. 😛

  39. Jill C. says:

    I live in an area with a high (> 60%) senior population. I am now convinced that baby gender identification skills are the first to go.

  40. Ann says:

    Given all the a$$hats nowadays, I think it’s awesome that there are still nice folks out there trying to strike up polite conversation. Is it annoying to have someone confuse your precious child’s gender? Okay, sure. Are they doing it deliberately to be a jerk? Probably not! Chill.

  41. nicole S says:

    old lady on skytrain after staring at us for 5 – 10 minutes. “Is that a little girl?” (pointing at my 3.5 year old son in a fireman rain coat, with his blonde ringlets I refuse to cut).
    “Nope, that’s my son”.
    (looking at the baby I’m holding) “Oh, so two little boys? That’s nice”
    “Nope, this is my daughter”

  42. Hillary says:

    With my daughter it didn’t matter with some people even if I saw them multiple times in a day and politely corrected. They still called the baby in all pink with bows in her hair a boy. She even had a shirt on one time that said Daddy’s Princess. Oh well, stupid just can’t be fixed sometimes.

  43. tinu56 says:

    I did have to laugh about the comment about not assuming gender, even if the dad says, “This is my son, WILLIAM.”, because I actually had this happen to me. While working at a call center, a woman was giving me her children’s stats (name, date of birth, gender, etc) Her oldest child was William and the younger was Jared. I then said, “What is your older son’s date of birth?”. Normally, I’d NEVER assume the gender of a child, but come on! William? Jared? I felt pretty safe declaring them boys. The 20 minute rant I got for that assumption still rings in my ears all these years later. I’ve never EVER assumed gender since. Though I do have to say, if you’re one of the first to attempt to break through the gender barrier with your child by naming your daughter with a traditional boy name or dressing your son in pink ruffles, don’t be upset when people assume the wrong gender. You’ve taken up the task to break down that wall and that includes a lot of patience and probably a lot of time educating people about what you’re trying to do. Just saying.

  44. Manon Alexe says:

    I’ve had a lot of dumb things happen to me and my daughter. Once dressed head to toe in pink, in her pink pram, I had an older lady say: Oh what a sweet little boy.
    One day in a shop, I was standing in a aisle with my daughter standing next to me and her pink pram. Some random shop lady came to me and said: That’s a pretty girl. To which I replied, thanks! She than turned to my daughter and said to her: Come lets go find your mommy! So I said: Lady, I’m STANDING RIGHT HERE!!!! (side note: My daughter is biracial, and looks exactly like me, except for the slight tan and curly brown hair, I have straight brown hair) I have also had a lot of people ask me where I got her and if the adoption process was difficult. I once even showed some my strech marks and asked if they wanted to see the c-section scar as well. People are really stupid sometimes.

  45. Anna says:

    I wish I could tell you when it ends….but I’m beginning to think it doesn’t!
    Mine is 2 years old and STILL gets “what a cute little girl” even if he has his “Michelangelo” or when I say his name some weirdos go “really? You gave your girl a boy’s name?” And I have to try my hardest not to use michelangelo’s nunchucks on them

  46. Ana says:

    I had a few run-ins with people who really don’t have the slightest about gender…or anything
    I’m a single mom so me and the little dude,must do almost everything together…and once or twice some ppl actually mistaken me for the daddy (even if a have a C cup), the fact that my hair is short and wearing no makeup made me a guy…and at the same time they changed the gender of the little guy…well thx by-passers

    And one time I almost lost it, when a random grandma walked up to me and started yelling at me because my son isn’t baptized…and the ppl around us actually thought I did something to that lady…well…in my my mind I ran her over with the stroller…several times

    loooove all the above comments it means that I am still sane, and that those things bug everyone

  47. Sarah says:

    I let my twin daughters wear gender neutral “boy” clothes ie. jeans and tee shirts with no ribbons and sneakers, and let them rough and tumble and we keep their hair short. We didn’t want them to have a crisis about being mistaken for boys so we pierced their ears. If people call them boys I’ll politely correct them.

  48. Jada says:

    When I was flying home from Germany with my, then 10mths twins, by myself mind you. They flight attendant offered my kidos peanuts. PEANUTS! My son had some teeth, but my daughter had none. Never-mind that they were 10 MONTHS OLD!!

  49. Heather says:

    My son is bi racial and I was single for many years with him. Many people asked us both ” oh is he adopted?” So annoying .

  50. Jill C says:

    But WHY are baby gender identification skills so lacking? As adults, we all panic when we run into the occasional adult person whose gender is difficult to identify. We squirm, try to think of gender-neutral things to say, and wish the ground would swallow us whole if we get it wrong.
    And in western society, gender cues are pretty obvious. Blue, trains and trucks for boys. Pink, flowers and bows for girls.
    And I guess it’s not like girls wear dresses all the time anymore, but my daughter’s jeans do have ruffles and appliquéd flowers and what-not. She’s 20 months and her hair is still too short and smooth to put anything in, but people CONSTANTLY assume she is a boy. Mostly gentlemen over 60. But the occasional lady does, too. I’ve had it happen when my older daughter was wearing a dress, a pink diaper, and carrying a pink bottle. I’ve had it happen when my younger daughters clothes were a *little* more gender neutral, but still clearly feminine (to me anyway). I’ve had an older lady assume male when she was wearing a hot pink shirt, then laugh it off when I corrected her by saying that she dresses her grandson in pink all the time (really? Cuz that’s not average, particularly for a person of your generation).
    Last week, my husband and I were talking about old photographs you see where the baby boys are always wearing dresses. I explained that in Victorian times, all babies wore dresses, regardless of gender, because it made diaper changing easier (no plastic pants), and the garments were easier to make, plus, since NOBODY knew what kind of baby they were having, they just made stuff for the baby, and that’s what the baby wore. He says THAT’s why old people have such a hard time with this, but I told him there really aren’t many people left from the Victorian era.

    • Cassie Davis says:

      I just read something regarding colors, apparently in Germany the color pink is viewed as masculine and baby boys wear pink, I’m sure other countries have different views on color too. This could be a little bit of the problem…Maybe *shrug*

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