Gender confusion

Babybel has started speaking. Well, strictly speaking, not fluent adult-speak per se but rather reiterating any of a dozen words she has mastered in a loud and sometimes nonsensical fashion. Most of her words begin with the letter ‘b’ curiously – bear, ball, bus, bike, balloon, boy – though she has a tendency to drop the b when saying (ba)nana.

She is now en route to deciphering the difference between ‘boy’ and ‘girl (initially all children were indiscriminately labelled ‘boy’), though I am yet to be convinced that her correct labelling is not simply a byproduct of inordinately good guesswork mixed with a good observation of hairstyles (ponytails and/or hairclips = girl; inverse = boy).

This morning as we walked less than a foot behind a woman veering on the hirsute side of humanity, Babybel stretched out her arm, finger pointed, and armed with the confidence of unwavering certainty, declared ‘Man!’ Hoping against hope that the (wo)man was either hard of hearing or at least deaf to the English language, I tried to quieten the over-excited Babybel. Instead, she assumed it was me who was hard of hearing and embarked on a repetitious and really quite loud monologue consisting solely of the word ‘man’, in the manner of a dysfunctional record player.

Grimacing as the woman turned round, I realised Babybel might be more perceptive than I gave her credit for.