A Moment of Jen
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003
posted by Jen at 10/22/2003 06:38:00 PM

Well, it's finally happened.

I had a total psycho-mommy moment this afternoon.

I know that it's a dumb thing to be worried about when people mistake Lucy for a little boy. Even though I believe she is exceptionally beautiful and feminine-looking, I know that this is the price I pay for not dressing her exclusively in pink or in dresses, and for failing to stick one of those dopy barrettes in the hair she doesn’t really have yet. No matter how adorably girlie I think she is, there are going to be people who think she’s a boy.

And it’s happened a bunch lately – so much so that I’m starting to worry that Lucy will believe that her name is really “Actually, she’s a girl.”

"What a sweet little boy!" said the lady as I was walking baby and dog on Monday.
"Actually, she's a girl," I said.

“Cute little guy!” said the guy at the coffee shop yesterday.
“Actually, she’s a girl,” said I.
“Why don’t you and the little fella sit right here.”
“Actually….oh, never mind.”

Most of the time I don’t bother correcting people – I just smile and move along.

But today Adam and I were at lunch at this middle-aged woman stopped and peered down into Lucy’s stroller. “Your little boy dropped his hat,” she announced.
“Actually, she’s a girl,” I said snippily. “But thanks!”

I looked up and Adam was staring at me like I’d grown another head. And I apologized to him….but honestly, I wasn’t sorry. For one thing, the hat was purple. For another, I had Lucy bundled in a pink blanket. And if you’re not absolutely sure, why just assume?

I think it’s the sleeplessness. Lucy has of late made the determination that five a.m. is the new seven-thirty, and I can’t fall back asleep after the five-a.m. get-up-and-feed-me wake-up call.

And I made the mistake of visiting amazon.com last night. I didn't look up either of my books, mind you – I know better than to dip even my little toe into that poisoned well – but I’m reading this book that I absolutely love and adore (THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger), and I logged on to see what the reviewers had to say.

They were rapturous, of course -- "Niffenegger has written a soaring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that skates nimbly around a huge conundrum at the heart of the book: Henry De Tamble, a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, finds himself unavoidably whisked around in time," said Publisher's Weekly -- but a handful of the customer reviews were downright nasty.

Which depressed me. Who are these people? What are their lives like? Do they wake up in the morning, kick the dog, spit in their boss’s coffee and sit down and dish out Comic Book Guy-style “Worst Book Ever” reviews? Does that make them feel better about themselves?

"Audrey, I want the four days of my life back that I spent reading this book!" one of them bleated. Huh? Did the author stand over you with a gun to your head and force you to read every page? If you didn’t like it, you could have stopped reading, after, say, three days, right?

And then there was the one-star number that ended with the smug coda “And I found two typos.” Well, bully for you. Gold star. Your parents must be so proud.

Nasty, nit-picky and missed-the-point-entirely customer reviews are a part of the deal, the hard bargain of publication and public attention, and I’ve learned better than to dwell on (or even read) any of mine, but I guess I’m sad by proxy, or sad by association, for Audrey Niffenagger, who wrote what I think is an absolutely ravishing, completely engrossing, heartbreaking stunner of a book and now has to suffer the slings and arrows of even the occasional idiot (and will probably go on to suffer more because the book was a Today Show pick).

So if you’re looking for something to read, pick up THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. And if anyone asks, tell them that Lucy’s a girl!

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