I decided to learn the sex of the baby.
And now that I know, I’m suddenly conflicted. I would have been happy with either a boy or girl, that’s not what I mean, but my first thoughts were of the things that I want to AVOID in having a child of that sex, or the things I’m AFRAID of in having a child of that sex, or the potential PROBLEMS that we could have with a teenage child of that sex.
Sheesh, what’s wrong with me??
I wanted to avoid the over-socialization of gender roles by others before the child was even born, which is why we originally avoided learning the sex (and will – for now – still keep it a secret from everyone else). But here I am, automatically worrying about this or that related to the child’s sex before it’s born. Maybe it’s human nature. But I do find my own reaction interesting.
I didn’t think about colors or names or clothes or toys. I thought, “What will be the world’s social agenda for this child upon its entry to the world?” and “How can I protect this child from all the misguided bullsh*t that will inevitably befall them because of their outward appearance?”
* * * * *
Last night, my husband and I went to see Dan Savage speak in Berkeley. It was hilarious, enlightening, heartbreaking at times, and just fun. I was very conscious the whole time that I was sitting there with a big fat belly, awaiting the arrival of a little one in a short five months. I would love for this little one to define themselves the way they want. I suppose it’s as likely to happen in the San Francisco/Oakland area as anywhere else in the world, but bullying and all those other awful things still happen here.
Metro living has its trade-offs, right? You might have to compromise on the school “quality” (at least on paper) or the safety risks, but what the children gain in terms of exposure to diversity and learning to navigate their way through more complex systems to be independent and self-reliant is pretty priceless. I like to think we can back up our kids’ formal education and teach them strategies to be safer, but I’m not sure you can teach kids about diversity without being immersed in it, and I don’t think you can teach kids how to get around without them having to actually do it.
Every parent makes choices. I feel strongly that raising our kids in Oakland is going to be a good choice for us. I’m hoping that the diversity frees them to be who they want to be, rather than what social mores dictate. Hell, maybe our kids decide to be Republicans. (I’m an atheist, so I don’t pray, but if there’s one thing I would pray about, it would be that they do not decide to become Republicans.) But even if so, I’ll know that we did what’s best for them, creating an environment in which going against the norm here in the Bay Area was something they felt empowered to do.
(As a side note, this does bring up the issue of which will be Baby’s first social democracy event. I typically don’t participate in those, as I’ve always felt those simply make protesters feel better rather than actually effecting change. I prefer to throw money at my issues to get the liberal and progressive agendas pushed forward. More effective, at least in today’s environment. But before our child has any money to throw around, we would have to show them the way, and being out in the streets would be one option. If Baby were born last year, maybe we would have taken them to Occupy in NY when we went, that would have been cool. What does next year or two or three hold? Anti-war demonstrations? Education funding and support? Gatherings at City Hall regarding excessive police force? Who knows.)
* * * * *
All this stemmed from learning the sex of our baby! It has sent me into a whirlwind of pensiveness and concern and hope.