With those six words, the sonographer laid all bets to rest. We'd traveled in a pack that day, my step-daughters and the mother-in-law in tow, all of us with our own preconceived notions of what was going to be going on down between this little alien's legs. We'd taken to calling it Monkey*, because calling it It was too creepy, and the politically correct "him or her," "he or she" and "his or hers" were way too much effort when all you wanted to say was, "Monkey rocks." But now Monkey was going to lose his (or, as far as we knew at the time, her) androgeny. This was big news. At home was an envelope containing five scraps of paper, each containing one of our gender guesses (except for Maddie's whose, we found out later, said, "Boy or Girl," because she just couldn't bring herself to play favorites). I'd guessed boy, but only because I had to make a guess. I had no feeling, no hunch one way or the other.
Given that I'd been living in a house with three females, most of our friends and family had been hoping for a boy, for me, they said. It was an assumption pretty much everyone was completely comfortable in making:
"I bet you're hoping for a boy!"
I'd smile and chuckle and say, "Yeah. Or a girl. I don't really care."
"Yeah, you gotta say that, I know, but come on, deep down inside you're hoping for a boy, aren't you?"
"It's my first kid. I just want the kid. Don't much care what it's sex is."
"Whatever, dude. I know."
Even Julie kept asking me if I had a preference. I'd say no.
"Whatever, dude. I know."
But standing in the ultrasound room, watching the sonographer squirt the KY Jellyish goop on Julie's belly, I started wondering myself. Did I have a preference? In spite of all my insistence to the contrary, was I secretly hoping for boy? A mini me? A little man I could take fishing and to hockey games; play catch with a buy a little set of tools for; teach to play the guitar and advise on the ways of the opposite sex?
No. Because I could do all that stuff with a girl, too. A little girl. A daughter. A mini girly me. I could get used to that. I was already in a house with three women. I grew up with my mom and two sisters. I had some experience with this. Girls are easier. They don't start breaking stuff the minute they can walk. They don't turn everything into a gun. They don't kick and hit and spit. "You know what?" I thought. "I do have a preference. I want a girl! Come on, sonographer! Show me a vagina!
"I see something sticking out there!"
It was pretty quiet in the room then. No exclamations, no "Whup, dere it is!" or anything like that. I kept looking at the image. The unmistakable shape of boy parts sticking out from the unmistakable shape of my son. I looked around the room. Everyone was looking at me, smiles of curiosity on their faces. I looked at Julie, who was still looking at the screen.
"I can't believe it's a boy," she said. "I don't know how to raise boys. Just girls."
I looked back at the screen, then back to Julie. I smiled a smile that pushed the boundaries of my face.
"You just leave it me. I got a few ideas."
Monkey's due May 6.
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*Thanks to Maddie for the name. Monkey rocks.