In the wise words of Brittany Spears, “Oops, I did it again…”.

I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or angry.  I get it.  It’s the new millenium, the age of feminized men.  Delicate jawed, pouty lipped, long eyelashed men.  Weepy, emotional, does-this-tie-make-my-belly-look-fat, softy men.  At times, I’m that guy.  But I’ve got an excuse.  I’ve got a full-time position as a SAHD and studies have shown that many long term SAHDs suffer from a flip in the testosterone to estrogen ratio.  (Can I claim disability for this?)  Since I didn’t destroy anything, my boss renewed our contract and in January I’ll be put in charge of another underling…with no pay raise!  I’m a little miffed about it and thinking I may go on strike.  Sorry, just venting…now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I’m at the park this morning and I see two children, somewhere between 2 and 30 years old, and I think ‘Hey, a couple of girls for Worm to practice pickup lines on’.  He doesn’t go up to either of them and I figure he’s just minding his own business (or looking for a good stick to poke them with.)  And then I start chatting up the nearby mom of one of the kids.

“Worm loves to dig in the sand and pile it in the buckets.”  I say.

She replies “For a while, I couldn’t get my son out of the sandbox.  Now, he’s into the jungle gym.”

Son?  Where is he?  Maybe he’s in daycare now?  Or his dad has him?  Because all I see in front of me is one boy.  Mine.  It takes me 10 minutes of conversation with this mom to figure out that the ‘son’ she is talking about has been here the entire time!  I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and look again.  I don’t believe it.  (“Inconceivable!” as the great philosopher Vizzini would say…)

It’s a good thing I didn’t open my mouth too soon and say something stupid.  Whew!

0 for 1.  Next kid.  Worm and I head over to the swingset and see a dad pushing his little creature in the swing.  I look in the basket and see a child with its hair tied into a hamburger-bun-or-whatever-women-call-it on top.  Remembering that I’m not in India and that chances are slim that a boy, especially one of caucasoido-anglo-northernEuropea-something descent would be wearing a girl’s hairstyle, I assume I’m looking at a wee chickadee.

“How old’s your daughter?” I ask, thinking that she is the same age as Worm.

“Ahem!  My SON is almost two.” along with a pursed lip smile stretched over his gritted teeth.

Whoops!  Hoping he has the memory of a goldfish, I point to the bike leaned up against a nearby tree and ask this dad about the quality of the baby bike seat.  0 for 2 today.  (Good thing I didn’t take a third pitch, eh?)

You know how when you’re at the playground and you’re just not quite sure of what you’re looking at?  Hmm.  Is that a boy or a girl?  (I would have sworn on my second child that those two kids at the playground today were girls.  It’s a good thing I didn’t wager.  It would be terribly awkward to explain to Steph during labor and delivery that Smush’s new owner wants me to videotape him catching his new prize and cutting the cord.)  You perk up your ears and listen for the parent to say something like “Hey Joey boy, stop slamming your face into the merry-go-round.” or “Lisa Ann, don’t you know that little girls should practice good posture daily?  Put that book back on your head and walk this way.” to doubly confirm your suspicions of whether or not the kid you’re looking at owns a Y chromosome.

Parents, make sure the people around you don’t have to guess your progeny’s gender.  Don’t embarrass your kids or other adults or get other adults to inadvertently embarrass your kids.  There are ways to avoid these potentially scarring and indelible moments from occurring (unless you’re punishing your child on purpose).

Situations like this next one, happen every year in American homes all over the world (It sounds more grand this way.):

Your son, little Junior, has been constantly mistaken for a girl for the first 13 years of his life.  (Part of the reason is that the hand-me-downs he wears come from his older sister that YOU forced on him because you wanted to get double the usage out of them.)  His physique is obviously not a big ego boost for him and he’s become a teenage mess trying to understand why he doesn’t look glisteningly mannish like the Chippendale models on the freeway billboards.  (You live in Vegas, ok?)  So he goes to the local gym and buys a case of steroid injections with his allowance money that YOU gave him.  He shoots up every day, builds boatloads of muscles and his voice drops.  Then using his practicality inherited from YOU (remember the hand-me-downs?), he refills the steroid needles with heroin because he wants to get double the usage out of the hypodermics.  Now he’s a ‘roid raging heroin addict and it’s all your fault.

Don’t be stupid and turn your child into a heroin addict.  Play by the rules.  Boys should be seen and not heard look like boys and girls should look like ballerinas, princesses or fairies, or something like that.

Here are five tips on how to keep your kid from being gender-confusing to the world:

  1. Dress your child in pink if you’ve got a girl, and blue if you’ve a boy.  (This is pretty simple people.  The colors are there to avoid the Crying Game guessing game.  Follow this until boobs and mustaches form on your little one.  If boobs and a mustache grow on the same little one, see a doctor. Got it?)
  2. If you know your boy is a little effeminate or your girl wears a lot of flannel, add the word “boy, buddy, son” or “girl, sister, daughter” to every sentence when speaking aloud.  (It puts other parents at ease.  For example, “Hey Matthew girl, pick up your bicycle.  Bring it in the house, young daughter of mine!”  It’s perfectly clear that this parent is using the unisex version of the name Matthew for their daughter, yet it’s no surprise to other parents that this Matthew is a female.)
  3. Don’t name your children after inanimate objects found in nature.  (“Come here Parkbench, I’d like you to meet Treeroot.”  Huh?  Other moms and dads will sit around for hours staring at your kid trying to figure him or her out.  I know we’re in California and we’re more subject to the atypical naming conventions that abound with treehugging hippie nature-loving heavy potsmoking alternative-healthseeking parents.  So until the androgynous look is outgrown, use a name that leans strongly to the right or left like “Mike” or “Jill”.  Afterwards, you can call them “SlowlyBlazingGrassLeaf” for the rest of their lives.
  4. Cut your child’s hair.  (Buzz cuts for boys.  Shoulder length or longer for girls.  Don’t think about it, just do it.  Chances are that you’re still debating whether the ‘Jennifer Aniston’ do will gain your favor in daycare and whether or not the ‘Bieber’ will still look good when baby’s got boogers dripping and a 9-tooth smile.  It doesn’t matter right now.  Let them screw up their own hair, attire, and lives when they get older.  But, until then, keep it simple.
  5. There are only four tips, ok?  I can’t think up another one right now.  I’m tired and need a drink…I mean a nap.

So there you have it folks.  And for those that need a picture to burn into their brain, please see an example of what NOT to do.  (I purposely photoshopped the image as poorly as possible so that my dad with bad eyesight can see that it’s not a real wig.  His blood boils when I do crazy stuff with Worm in real-life.  Here’s to you keeping your hypertension in check, dad!)

If Your Son Shows Up to the Playground Looking Like This and Other Parents Continue to Mistake Him for Her, There May Be a Problem You're Just Not Seeing.

If Your Son Shows Up to the Playground Looking Like This and Other Parents Continue to Mistake Him for Her, There May Be a Problem You’re Just Not Seeing.