Somebody had a question for me about Anneka: “Were you disappointed that you didn’t have a boy?”
First, let’s get something out of the way: There’s no reason to take offense at this question. It was a well-meaning question from a well-meaning person. And I get it – I’m an outdoor-loving guy, and I could see why people would wonder if I view a daughter as a missed opportunity to share some of my enthusiasm and skills with a son. Some people I mention this conversation to get a little huffy. Don’t do that. The person was curious about my mindset. That’s all. I was also eager to talk about this.
Anyway, back to how I answered.
(I did not start off mentioning that boys have a prong that points forward, and thus makes it easier for them to micturate upon unwary moms and dads. But honestly, that does kind of help!)
Actually, a daughter feels more right to me for some reason. I can’t fully explain that. It’s just always kind of felt like the better role for me – dad to daughter versus dad to son.
And here’s the truth … even right now, professional, educated, capable women face a lot of gender-based nonsense. A friend who has a PhD in physics mentioned some challenges with male colleagues to me, and I wish I could say I was more surprised. The good ol’ boys networks are still alive.
On the other hand, Anneka is growing up in a world where women have flown into space. They’ve been heads of state for many advanced nations. They compete in sports at the highest level.
This is all to the good. But the world as a whole needs to get over this notion of “girls do X and boys do Y”. I see no reason to deprive my little person of any opportunity, interest or pursuit because it doesn’t fit into the mold of “what girls do.” Her world doesn’t have to be soft and pink. She can get dirty just as well as any of the boys she meets in daycare.
If Anneka wants me to teach her how to smoke a salmon, make a batch of beef jerky or sharpen a knife, I’ll teach her. If she wants to learn to play the accordion, go to ground school for a pilot’s license or learn the secrets of being a shortstop, I’ll have to get a little help! The point is, there are endless possibilities that might interest her. Whatever happens to interest her, I’m all for it and will help however I can. And she won’t hear us say “girls can’t do that.”
I admit that I do have some hopes: I really hope that Anneka gets interested in the natural world. I think nature is far more amazing than the faux-reality of theme parks. Nothing would make me happier than having her bug me relentlessly to see the aurora borealis or a real volcano. I hope she prefers Xena to the other sorts of princesses she could obsess over. I also hope that she doesn’t fall into the trap of following the crowd. I know kids want to be accepted by other kids … and one of the easiest routes is to grasp onto the same things that interest all the other kids. Being different can be a tough road. But I also think it’s a rewarding one.
But who knows? She’s going to be who she’s going to be.