Friday, December 2, 2011

Boys and girls

While the eloquent 19-year old who assures Iowans that he hasn't been harmed by his lesbian parents has gone viral on Facebook, we have more prosaic concerns: Little Bug is currently denying the actual existence of girls.

We noticed that he was signing "baby" for every kid under 12, and we thought he needed more signs. So we tried to teach him signs for "boy" and "girl." He learned to do them on the plane back from Tucson, as I pointed out a girl and a boy and he repeated my signs back to me. They seem dated an ancient: "boy" involves drawing an imaginary cap above your forehead, and "girl" is signed by drawing a bonnet string along your chin.

Tonight we were at a tree-lighting in Amherst, complete with the UMass marching band playing religious Christmas carols--a tad strange--and he was "signing" away and otherwise communicating nonverbally in a carrier on my back. Clapping for the band, signing "more" every time they stopped, making "woof" noises for the dogs. And signing "boy" every time he saw a kid older than two. Some of them were clearly girls, and Jennifer would laugh and sign "girl" and say "no, that's a girl." Gendered sign language was not working well for him. He'd make his mock-frowning face and grunt in disagreement (for a kid with few words, he gets his important thoughts across with surprising clarity). Then he would sign "boy" again. "Girl" Jennifer would say and sign. "Boy" he would sign in reply. Then he'd point to himself and sign "boy."

And the anti-gay parenting folks were afraid he'd grow up confused about his gender. Nope. Just other people's.