2010/12/02/do-you-use-boy-words-or-girl- words-or-the-other-words-but-i-cant- amember-them/
Do you use Boy Words or Girl Words? Or the other words, but I can’t ‘amember them.
I met Alec when he was 3 years old. I was coming over to babysit – I had met some of Alec’s parents (4 of the 7 of them) at a polyamory event. Seven parents, all over the gender and sexuality spectrum. Eleven children, ages five months through 12 years. Two big houses. Alec was the only kid in the living room when I knocked. He full on bounded toward the door.
“Hi I’m Alec are you the babysitter mommy said that we can go to the park if you want to and feed the ducks do you like legos?”
“Yep, hi, my name is Andy.” I said, kneeling down, “Let me talk to one of your parents first, ok?”
While I was saying this Alec was looking me up and down.
“Yeah ok, hey, Andy, do you use boy words or girl words, or the other words but I can’t really ‘amember them?”
I looked curiously at his mom, Amelia, who was busy tiding up the table.
“Oh,” she said, “he can’t remember the word pronouns.”
“Ah,” it clicked, “I use boy words. What about you?”
“I use boy words, too. Do you like legos?”
“Of course I do!”
In that 45 second exchange Alec showed me that he knew more about gender than most adults I’ve met in my 23 years on this planet. Alec was, of course, in a unique spot, having three parents who didn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. But his question, “do you use boy words or girl words or other words” (he/him/his, she/her/hers, some gender neutral option) was really a variant of the “are you a boy or a girl?” that I hear from half the kids I meet. He wanted to know what to call me. I later learned that the kids asked this question of almost any adult who walked into the house, regardless of their gender presentation. They had learned that momma’s friend, who may have long blonde hair and big boobs and be wearing a pink dress, might not use the pronouns she/her/hers. The older kids even occasionally asked a person they knew again if their appearance had changed drastically since they last saw them.