It’s the first question asked when a baby is about to arrive:
“Boy or girl?”
And in the case of a Toronto couple, the answer has been, essentially, “Whatever.”
Kathy Witterick and David Stocker have decided that their third child, named Storm and born on New Year’s Day, will decide its gender when it is ready. In the meantime, they are keeping it secret, and making their two other children, both boys (at least as far as they’re telling us), keep the secret as well.
“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” Stocker told the Toronto Star.
Added the mother in an e-mail to that paper: “Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what s(he) wants to be?!.”
Never mind that the question can be answered with one peek down the diaper. What I don’t get is the motivation. The parents, in their late 30s, seem to feel a terrible injustice is done by identifying something that goes back to Adam and Eve, namely, well, whether you’re an Adam or an Eve.
“What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children,” Stocker told the Star. “It’s obnoxious.”
Lack of schooling is no way to learn
Calling a boy a boy is not making a choice for your child. But calling a boy genderless is.
I wonder what other choices these folks will leave to the baby. For example, why not let it decide to change its own diaper? Why impose your view? Maybe the kid likes sitting in poo-poo – who are we to judge?
Why decide when to do a feeding? Put the bottle on the counter and let the kid go after it. Schooling? The child can decide. Go. Don’t go. Whatever. What’s important, after all, is that parents aren’t “obnoxious” about it.
What you have here is a classic case of people saying one thing and causing the opposite. By trying to ignore gender, they have made gender the most important thing. There are now online polls as to whether Storm is a boy or a girl (most say boy), and TV shows and talk shows nationwide have been buzzing with it.
Meanwhile, Storm’s two older brothers – Jazz, 5, and Kio, 2 – are being raised without formal schooling and taught to choose whatever behavior they like. Jazz, according to the Star, dresses in pink, paints his nails and wears a stud in his ear.
This, we are to believe, is his “choice.” Of course, Mom or Dad made the choice to buy the nail polish, the clothes and the stud. What happens if the child points to a chain saw? They get him that, too?
Mother Nature makes her decision
This is all part of a new self-loathing that defines anything traditional as bad, and any decision you might make as “judgmental” – even to a crying infant.
I try to imagine telling my parents, when I was in the crib, that they were too judgmental. My father would still be laughing.
The Toronto couple believe they are giving their child a “choice” – even though that choice was made by nature and was evident in the first pee-pee. Meanwhile, it seems pretty unfair to tell a 5- and a 2-year-old to keep a secret. Isn’t that imposing something on them?
Personally, I am all in favor of a little imposition. It’s time to eat. Time to sleep. Time to stop crying. Time to go to school. Don’t treat others that way. Don’t say rude things.
It’s called parenting. If the child, later in life, prefers football to lipstick, or boxer shorts to dresses, or one day asks a doctor to mangle its private parts in an effort to be something else, it still will be unable to deny that it was born one way.
It’s not a judgment. It’s a fact.
So is this. When your child asks, “Am I a boy or a girl?” and you answer, “Whatever you want,” you’re not being wise, hip, progressive or nonjudgmental, you’re just being a fool.
Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His new play, “Ernie,” runs through July at City Theatre in downtown Detroit. It was inspired by the story of legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell. For information, go to www.ernietheplay.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/mitch.