Saturday, August 13, 2011

A perfect storm of fart noises forever

Oh dear god.

It's a boy.

We weren't even supposed to find out. It just so happened that I'd put off the NT ultrasound (part of the overly-elaborate process of genetic testing that has been giving me anxiety attacks lately - I am so used to my body failing me at every turn, I expected something to be drastically wrong, but apparently everything's fine? I'm confused) till after my recent trip back to the husband's and my Rust Belt hometown. Just got back, got the scan, and there it was, dancing around on the screen like a twitchy little monkey doll. Oh man!

And the tech casually says, "So are you planning to find out what the gender is?"

Of course we are. My entire family made it clear that if I don't they'll never forgive me. Heaven forbid you have to buy things with cute bunnies and duckies and monkeys on them instead of "Daddy's Little MVP" and "Born to Shop." Gotta get those gender norms ironed out early! (With the ladies doing the ironing thereof, of course.) But mostly we are just curious. "Yeah?" I said, skeptical. "Aren't we not supposed to be able to see anything yet?"

So she points to this little weird dangly thing and grins and holy shit that's a penis. It's a boy! It's a goddamned little teeny awesome BOY. Unless that was an intestine. We won't know for sure till the next ultrasound in six weeks. But wow, sure looks like it.

What am I going to do now?

Despite logically knowing there's a 50/50 chance it would occur, I never planned for having a boy. I have spent my whole adult life planning on how I'm going to raise my daughter differently from how my mom raised me. When she'll be allowed to wear makeup (when she starts getting zits and needs concealer), how late she can stay out (way later than I ever could), can she be friends with people with divorced parents (I wasn't allowed to), what activities I'd encourage her to do (mostly theater - I was a band kid, but my husband is far too hilarously charismatic to waste his genes on an introvert's extracurricular.) I had this picture in my head of this girl with a wicked grin and red hair like my husband's, goofing off in the back of the class and still getting perfect grades, starring in all the musicals, stopping off at Second City before making it big Fey-and-Poehler-style. Or if she absolutely MUST go instrumental, then Interlochen. Or maybe MIT, if she hits that crucial liberal-arts-vs.-science decision point that I hit in mid/late high school and decides to make the RIGHT career choice for her financial future rather than the one I made.

The only plans I ever had for a boy were giving him the annual stern talking-to re: consent and condoms once he hit dating age and trying to keep him from saying "gay" and "retarded."

Which is good. It's very good! Because having preconceived notions of who your kid is going to be and how they are going to become it is what fucked ME up. (That and biochemistry. It'll getcha!) I fell way short of Perfect Daughter, despite being the one my friends' parents held up as "why can't you be more like," because my mom was devastated to have raised a nerd. She hid my computer games and my fantasy novels. "Stop reading and go watch TV" was a common refrain. It just was not on her radar that her daughter would be strange. With my luck I'd have an attractive, cheerful, popular, uncomplicated jock for a daughter, and as I took her homecoming-queen pictures and regarded the wall of softball trophies I would silently think what did I do wrong? Because it all comes down to expecting your same-sex child to be YOU, distilled and improved, and wanting them to do all the things you ever wanted to do. And no one ever is, and no one ever does.

I don't have a picture in my mind's eye of what my son will look like at 20, how he'll wear his hair when he's 14, what his favorite books will be when he's 5. I have made no specific plans for his wardrobe or college major. You know what this means? It means the chain of mother/daughter angst and unfulfilled expectations is broken! No more failed cloning attempts! Evil Beans is a blank slate. And I intend to give him some crayons, step back and let him go to town. This is going to be so much fun.

Except now my husband is going to see it as his solemn sacred duty to teach his son how to work the word "booger" and at least one fart noise into every sentence for the rest of his life.

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