Before our son, the Juban Princeling, was born, his father and I desperately wished for a daughter. When we talked about our future children, we automatically assumed we'd have a daughter first, as if through sheer will we could make that happen. People I worked with told me my husband was just humoring me, that he really wanted a son. These people, who clearly had greater insight into my marriage and my husband's psyche than I did, were wrong: not only did my husband want a daughter so badly he rarely let me even entertain the notion that we might possibly end up with a son first, but at our 20-week ultrasound when the technician said, "It's a boy!" my husband cried pink tears.
Now that we have our son, we can't imagine him being anything or anyone other than who and what he is, and we love him for it, penis and all. Even when he tries to pull it off during baths (Husband: "Son, I cannot stress the importance of this enough: it's not detachable."), even when he pees on us during diaper changes, even when well-meaning loved ones give us football-themed shirts for him (we're a baseball family), even when I see the cutest little girl dresses at Target and have to sigh wistfully and walk past them. We love our boy.
My husband doesn't have a lot of experience being around girls. He has one brother and no sisters. He has only two cousins and they are both boys. He was never a camp counselor, nor did he babysit. His exposure to little girls is limited to his classmates growing up, and the one time we spent five hours babysitting a friend's two daughters, then aged four and three.
I, however, was once myself a little girl. I had little girl friends growing up. I spent three summers as a camp counselor to boys and girls aged three to five years old. (Those kids are now 21 to 25 years old. Excuse me while I go freak out.) I babysat, a LOT. So when my friend's two daughters made us play "mermaid princesses" with them, I fully knew what to expect. My husband did not, and spent the afternoon tirelessly being "the shark" over and over and over again while I protected my two mermaid princess daughters from him. True story.
A couple of weeks ago we took the Princeling to his favorite indoor play space so he could expel some energy in a safe environment. Unfortunately, we went on a Saturday afternoon and ran smack dab into the middle of a birthday party.
An eight-year old girl's birthday party.
While we parents of toddlers and other littler kids scrambled to keep them from getting trampled on by the older kids, the birthday girl climbed up the stairs of the big slide and announced in that shrill, eardrum-shredding, decibel-testing voice which only little girls have, that boys were NOT ALLOWED ON THE SLIDE. Her loyal posse then made short work of the poor little boys who had so innocently attended the birthday party, fully unaware that their Y-chromosomes were about to turn them into They Who Must Be Destroyed By Whatever Means Necessary.
Now, the Princeling is a bright kid, but he is not yet cognizant of the fact that he is a) a boy, and b) only 15 months old. These older girls, these Queens of the Indoor Play Space, these Birthday Party Divas, these Holy Sisters of the Big Slide, fully fascinated him. I think he thought he was one of them. Because as soon as they began running amok, he did his damndest to follow them everywhere. He squealed with delight while toddling behind them back and forth, he laughed that open-mouthed, totally unself-conscious laugh that he still has leftover from babyhood.
They, of course, did not acknowledge him or seem to recognize his existence in any way.
Since the big slide had become Home Base for the birthday girl and her ladies-in-waiting, naturally the Princeling had to be there. So Husband climbed him up the stairs and patiently waited for the Princeling to settle down and wait his turn on the slide.
When Husband came back down he had what can only be described as mild Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"Those girls..." he said, a horrified look in his eyes and a beaten-down posture to his shoulders. "Those girls are NUTS. They gave me the most hostile looks while I was up there."
"Well," I explained. "They said, 'No boys.' You're a boy."
"NO. BOYS. ALLOWED!" I told him again. "Do you still want a daughter next?"
Husband looked around the room, at the blurs of pink leggings and flower hair clips zipping to and fro, the birthday girl's father huddled in a wrinkled mess in the corner clutching his video camera for dear life, with the cacophony of a thousand little girls with nothing but energy to burn in a space made solely for the purpose of playing ringing in our ears. Boys from the Birthday Queen's coterie ran by screaming, "Now they're trying to kiss us!"
Then Husband said, "I think we should not have any more kids."