I saw the cutest mixed-race baby at the local discount store the other day. I saw the baby in the back of the store and didn’t have a chance to speak. As we were leaving, I saw the cutie pie again. I had spied a pair of stud earrings on the little tot, so I was sure the baby was a girl.

How old is she? I asked.

“It’s a boy,” his parents said.


“You’re showing your age,” Ken said, keeping the moment light.

The baby had earrings much like the ones I had purchased for Simone and Nadia when they were infants. They looked like tiny diamonds, and he had them in both ears.  Did I mention he is 11 months old? I checked his father for earrings. He did not have any.

Ken was right. I was showing my age. I’ve seen men wearing earrings, but I’ve never seen a baby boy wearing them. Well, until now. I shouldn’t go around asking without knowing the gender of the baby. From now on I’ll say, “How old is your baby?” That should keep me out of trouble.

I should have known better. I’ve seen reports of My Princess Boy, a book about a little boy who loves to dress up in clothes many of us would associate with girls. I also have read about the Canadian parents who are keeping their child’s gender a secret.

Please tell me I am not the only one who has made this mistake. I promise I won’t do it again.



13 thoughts to “Gender Bender

  • Mrs. K

    I’ve made this mistake and I will probably make it again although I will try not. I think it’s an honest mistake. I hope the parents weren’t too offended.

  • Keya

    I have never seen a baby boy with earings on.

  • Sunny

    The mistake was not yours. Mistaken are the parents for committing that child to such a choice before he is old enough to make it for himself.

  • benji hamilton

    Anyone could have easily made this mistake. An 11 month old baby boy with earrings is just another tell tale sign of the growing depravity of American culture.

  • Rania

    I agree with Sunny. I don’t think parents of a baby boy should commit such a decision on him. It just looks ridiculous in my opinion. I have seen it in person and just shake my head…I never see it with any other group but my black peeps. I just wonder what makes you think to do that to a boy…both? Even one is too much in my opinion, but both?

    However, playing devil’s advocate on myself, I guess I could also say that getting my own daughter’s ears pierced before she was a year old was not allowing her to make her own decision. My husband (who is white) reluctantly agreed to that but he wasn’t entirely on board with it. None of his family (women) are pierced and he didn’t understand why I wanted Ava’s ears pierced.

    • Honeysmoke

      I also played devil’s advocate. If he doesn’t want them and he’s still growing, I guess he can stop wearing them and the holes will close.

      I mentioned I had gotten Simone and Nadia’s ears pierced when they were infants, and I am sure anyone could argue I made the decision they should have been able to make for themselves.

      In my experience, though, I’ve met few women who don’t have earrings. I’ve had parents aske me how I got them to sit still for earrings, and I tell them they were done in a doctor’s office when they were infants.

      My grandmother pierced my ears the old-fashioned way, complete with ice and a potato. I don’t remember it because I was just an infant. That’s why I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I had earrings long before other little girls and didn’t have any trauma at the same time. I had sensitive ears, wore 14K earrings and only had one pair. I don’t have all that many now.

      I think infection is a valid concern for children so small. I was fortunate. Simone and Nadia’s ears were pierced by their pediatrician, who checked them out at every well baby visit.

  • class factotum

    I volunteer at a reading program for preschoolers. Most of the kids are black. Many of the little boys have earrings – big diamonds. I was a little shocked the first time I noticed.

    Even more shocking was the little boy who had the fake grill that he kept popping onto his front teeth. I finally just told him to stop it and put it in his pocket while I read, but inside I was screaming, “NO! Do not mimic a practice that causes you to ruin your perfectly healthy teeth!”

    • Honeysmoke

      My goodness.

      By the way, thanks for dropping by. I haven’t seen you around here in a while.

  • Tiffany

    I have to be honest. Of all the things you can do for a[n American] baby boy, buying earrings doesn’t even make it onto my radar.

    I don’t get it.

  • taliba

    I have seen baby boys with earrings (usually one) and they are usually black or biracial and (I think) gorgeous. My own grandson had one earring and very long hair. He still wears the one earring; is an A student (just won the presidential award for his test scores in Mathematics and Science); plays football and basketball and most of his friends who play sports have at least one earring. I will say that what bothered him was the long hair which he insisted his Mom have cut when he was in the 6th grade (he was tired of people asking if he was a girl, as he had very thick wavy, below the shoulder length hair). now that he’s a 9th grader and sees all the guys with long braids (and women with extensions) he tells us we shouldn’t have let him cut his natural hair. However, he’s happy with and never mistaken for a girl now.

    I place no cultural restrictions on what people do in their own cultural; and in fact I like earrings and see nothing wrong with them. I had my daughter and my two granddaughters ears pierced when they were infants by their pediatrician. Neither my husband nor my daughter’s husband particularly wanted my grandson’s ear pierced when he was a n infant but they didn’t think it was super strange as both of them have one ear pierced (one is an engineer and one a musician). In case you’re wondering, I’m a Psychologist and don’t see anything particularly unhealthy about this culturally. I will admit to one thing. when my daughter was a teen she got her nose pierced and I made her take that out and let the hole close because I thought it was too much and she hadn’t asked my permission. However, my East Indian friends thought I was being hypocritical (and I had to agree).

  • eli

    Let the kid alone and let him/her decide for his/herself!! What’s left for teenagers to pierce if their ears have been done since baby years?

    One of my daughters made herself an extra hole in one ear with the needle potatoe method at age 16 – just to see if she could – and it worked out fine. I found it dumb, but that’s teenagers.

    Another daughter had earings done professionally at age 10. She had an infection started later the same day and still has a hard hard core and visible large scar (indentation plus bump) in that ear. The hole is closed and she can’t put a new earing-hole in that central location anymore. Dumb of me? Take a healthy and whole kid to the doctor for a piercing and bring home a need for antibiotics and a scar????

    Piercing is unnecesarry pain at best. WHY do that to a baby?

    • taliba

      People take a healthy whole baby boy and have them circumcised (something which cannot be undone); they take babies who don’t care one way or another about the color, and dress them in pink or in blue, depending on their sex; they put baby girls in barrettes, and boys in cowboy suits; they do lots of unnecessary things because it’s their baby; and they love them no less than people who don’t do these things. It’s an expression of themselves. Sometimes these expressions are seen as good to do by others, and other times not. Sometimes people are so judgemental about the joy that certain things bring to parents. If it’s done in love I honestly don’t see the reason others get so upset.

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