I am a man, and because of that, even several years into the 21st century, there are certain guidelines I'm expected to abide by: "I'm supposed to be handy with a wrench, follow a favorite sports team, and, of course, I should feverishly wish that one of my daughters had been born a son. Well, I've made peace with the fact that for the rest of my life, I'm going to shell out extra bucks for mechanics and handymen. And, luckily, I married someone who is just as clueless about sports as I am. But I'll admit, I have questioned my manhood because, unlike so many guys, I found myself genuinely happy each time we learned that we were having a girl. Because, apparently, many men aren't.
Both times we announced the sex of our unborn child, some friends and family looked at me with sympathetic nods as if I would break out crying any second. Even still, when I'm out with my two daughters, Isabelle and Lorelei, complete strangers will ask me if I'm trying again for a boy, since I couldn't possibly be fulfilled with just girls. Of course, I know that if I never have a son, I'll be okay with that, but it's true that most men would not be. And I have a theory as to why: They're scared. I know this because I'm petrified myself. Someday my daughters are going to grow into teenage girls, and chances are that, by then, I'm still going to understand teenage girls as well as I did when I was a boy. In other words: not at all.
When I was younger, I thought the best way to befriend members of the opposite sex was to practice pratfalls (à la Jack Tripper from Three's Company) in front of them. Will my own daughters be as strange to me in the future as girls obviously were then? On the other hand, since I didn't sail through my own formative years -- or my relationships with girls -- with aplomb, I'm not so sure I could guide a son effortlessly through the same ordeals. What advice do I offer him if, as happened to me in 1985, he asks six girls to the Freshman Homecoming Dance and is turned down by all of them?Clearly, when it comes to passing on wisdom to a son, perhaps I'm not the right guy for the job. So maybe men should look at things differently.
If it's true that guys don't feel like they've reached manhood until they produce a boy, then -- and let's embrace that stereotype for a moment -- what's more manly than knowing your job for life is to protect your precious little girls from harm? I secretly can't wait until Isabelle and Lorelei are old enough to bring home dates, so I can look at the boys grimly and say, "Be nice to my daughter, or drink the rest of your meals through a straw." Protective instincts aside, there are plenty of advantages to having girls. One day at the park, I met a dad who was watching his three young daughters. Despite the high costs of proms and weddings, he said, fathers of sons may end up paying a heavier price. "Girls are better. They'll pick out a nursing home with the nicest amenities. But boys will just worry about how much the place costs."
Geoff Williams is a Babytalk contributing editor and freelance writer living in Loveland, Ohio.