Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

next week's column: Shock and Awwwwww


My oldest daughter made an interesting decision recently, one that I haven’t faced for about 18 years. Charis had that ultrasound, where she got a shot at finding out the sex of her baby.

To know, or not to know? To me it’s a simple answer: to know. I mean, what makes waiting until the baby’s born any more special? “Look, it’s a boy/girl!” counts pretty much any time, doesn’t it? The little thing doesn’t change sex between now and then. At least, I don’t think so.

“Oh, but birth is such a wonderful experience.”

No it isn’t. It’s painful and messy, and the only reason anyone ever has more than one baby is because of selective amnesia. Do you know what the mother is really thinking, deep down, when the doctor announces the sex? She’s thinking, “I don’t care, just get it into college and let me sleep for the next eighteen years!”

The only thing worse than childbirth is puberty.

There are so many advantages to knowing right away if it’s a boy or girl. Choosing colors is simple: you can go with something other than yellow. If you’re traditional, you can decorate with pink or blue, or get little doll or fire truck wallpaper. If you’re nontraditional, you can do the same, but put the pink dolls in your boy’s room. The truth is he won’t give a hoot for a few years, anyway.

Even without a color choice, there are some clothes that are sex specific right from the beginning. It should be pretty simple: “We’re having a boy, so don’t bother with the lacy lavender dress with the frills, okay?” Well, that’s clear enough.

If you’ve having a girl, it’s never too early to start shopping for chastity belts
and shotguns.

So I wouldn’t have it any other way than to find out right from the beginning whether it’s a boy, girl, or other. When my ex-wife was pregnant with my youngest, I made all these arguments to her, explaining why it was good to know. However, she wanted to be surprised.

Have you ever argued with a pregnant woman? Don’t.

So I spent the next several months preparing for the boy I knew we were going to have. I’m not one of those men who want so badly to have a son; on the contrary, I was convinced we were having a boy exactly because I preferred a girl. Our first daughter was a girl, and I was used to having girls around. Boys, it seemed to me, were more rambunctious, more likely to get into things they shouldn’t, and just generally dirtier, and it made me tired just thinking about it.

Since I didn’t want a boy, and by then I had a sense of how my life was going, I was convinced it would be a boy. We even had a name picked out: Ian, which I liked because Ian Fleming is one of my favorite authors. (You may have heard of that spy he created, Bond – James Bond.)

I was so convinced it would be a boy that I figured one of each was good, and I had a vasectomy. I suppose that’s what sealed my fate, what with Murphy’s Law and all that. Luckily, I had a backup name: Jillian.

All of this could have been avoided with a casual glance at the little screen with the weird blobs.

Charis elected to take that casual glance, and came home with a film strip that she proceeded to hand over to me with great fanfare. She wanted to know if I could figure out whether her little bun in the oven had an innie or an outie, and I’m not talking belly button. So I took the film and I studied it, trying to make it seem like I had the slightest idea what I was looking at.

Personally, I think half the time the people who run those machines just pretend to know what they show. “Let’s see – there’s a blob, and there’s another blob, and there’s a bigger blob … let me get my coin out … tails – it’s a girl!”

But I looked carefully, and sure enough, I was able to identify several blobs as being blobs. Then I noticed two matching blobs, which were kind of round and the same general size. They looked – pardon me for being indelicate – just a little bit like, um, breasts. Boob blobs. I was just starting to make a bad joke to that effect, when I started wondering what those particular blobs really could be.

Knees? Too big. Cheeks? Still too big. Giant anime style eyes? Way too big. It was strange, but they looked almost like heads. Which was impossible, of course, because there were … two … of … them …


Charis already knew, you see, so if you ask me she should have had a chair ready for me. The floor’s hard. And I’m old – or at least, I felt pretty old, finding myself suddenly a grandfather twice over.

Part of my brain was thinking in practical terms already. Two -- of everything! Beds, car seats, food, clothing. And the whole group staying at my house, five turning to seven – where would we find room for both to sleep? We didn’t have room for one! I might have to give up my waterbed. I might have to sleep in the garage. There are spiders in the garage.

The other part of my brain, of course, just shut down entirely, and that’s what saved me from total panic. Men can have selective amnesia, too.

Eventually I stopped hyperventilating, put some ice on my head, and came to the same conclusion most grandparents come to: We’ll take what we get, as long as they come out healthy.

It would also help if they grew up to make lots of money, because I have the feeling this grandpa’s breakdown is going to come early.
Tags: column, new era, slightly off the mark

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