Mama's with long haired boys...how to not offend? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 10-30-2009, 11:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I'm a more traditional sort of mama, and my boy has a very short hair cut. My dh is a Marine so we live in an area where the majority of men/boys have rather short hair as well. My point is only that that is what we (my children and I are accustomed to).

Twice, once out of town and once here, we came across a boy with long hair and it was very hard to tell if the child was a boy or a girl. Both times DD labeled them with "girl" before I was able to guage myself which to say. The second time the boy was wearing a football player costume, but had beautiful blonde hair streaming around his face and through the helmet. He easily could really have been a girl, and if I'd guessed boy in that case, I'd be offending someone who wants to teach their daughter that girls can be anything. It was a totally awkward moment.

What to do? I don't want to offend child or parent.

Should I try to teach dd to say "child" instead of boy or girl? How do I smooth it over when dd guesses wrong, especially if I don't know which the child is either?

What do you do? What offends you and what doesn't?

I'd really like to be accomodating here...

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#2 of 59 Old 10-30-2009, 11:58 PM
 
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After about the 3rd summer my boys all have at home buzz cuts. It's quick and easy and matches daddy.

However I have hair that you can't curl to save my life. My boys ALL have this awesome blond curly hair and it truly pains me to do that first haircut I mean those curls!!!

I leave it until it just can't be left any longer and then we shave it off. My boys have been referred to as "she" at least a million times. Sometimes I correct it (usually with "actually it's a boy but I just can't bare to cut off the curls :-). ) I can see 100% why they think it's a girl and I totally don't blame them. That's why I mention that I can't stand to cut it - that way it's obvious to them I'm not offended.

You wouldn't offend me (or your DD in the slightest) my kids think it's funny.
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#3 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:36 AM
 
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I don't know the answer to your question. Both my kids (boy and girl) have longish hair, but it is usually my daughter who gets mistaken for a boy because she's something of a "tomboy" and also prefers wearing her brother's more neutral hand-me-downs to girly stuff. (Actually, I think dd might be leaning toward cutting her hair short due to the work longer hair is requiring. She hasn't asked, though, and I'm not eager to present it as an option-though I would cut it if she asked-because people seem "thrown" by her enough.) Neither kid seems too phased by it yet. They are still at the stage in which they're 100% guessing half the time when they reference "he," "she," "woman," "man," "boy," "girl." Thus they aren't bothered when others are "guessing" too. They're 3 and 4. Gender identity is so complex anyway. I don't worry about it much, but I do talk to my kids often about various types of diversity including but not limited to gender expression. We also talk about it being respectful to call people how they self-refer, and I try to model gender-spectrum respectful language myself.

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#4 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 01:10 AM
 
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My son used to have hair down to his bum (this was by the end of 6th grade, but it was always long, and at least halfway down his back by the age of 7 or so). He also had fine facial features. He also has a name, which is much more common as a girl's name (that wasn't really my plan, but it worked out that way). He was almost always mistaken for a girl. It didn't offend me and didn't offend him. Culturally, long hair is still usually a girl thing, and I know that. He figured it out at an early age. We simply said, "I'm a boy" or "he's a boy, actually" (or even nothing at all if it was just a chance encounter and really didn't matter), and left it at that.

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#5 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 09:28 AM
 
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My son often made the same mistake when he was 3/4, only he would keep protesting the kid was a girl because "She got long hair". Until I pointed that his grandfather (my dad) and some of the men in DH's family had long hair and pony tails. Then we discussed gender identity and stereotypes.

Recently DS decided to grow his hair long. We had a talk about expectations (clean hair, brushed and his responsibilities) and the realization some people may call him a girl. He has first name that is often a nickname for a girl's longer name. He also has long, long eye lashes and one of his best friends is girl. The few times its happened, he just says "I'm a boy."
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#6 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 10:10 AM
 
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Ask the child his/her name, or ask the parent.
Just matter-of-factly state to your child "Honey, he's a boy".

As a Mom who's child was called a girl the first three years of his life (his hair was never that long, go figure) and can suggest not saying:

oh, he's just so pretty, I thought he was a girl.

I don't mind if you think my kiddo is a girl and have no trouble telling you he is a boy. I understand he doesn't have a traditional boy's haircut. For some reason though, I find the follow-up comments irksome, about how pretty and delicate he looks.
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#7 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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TBH - its only annoying at first - not offensive. (and that was just when I was getting used to it as my sons hair is long due to his choice)

I think those of use with boys with long hair just get used to the fact that they will often get mistaked as a girl (probably as much as those whos girls were born bald and took ages to finally get some hair - often get mistaken as boys). As most comments are made in a passer-by way - there never is really that appropriate time to ask my childs name or what sex they are or whatever. Its usually just the 'what a beautiful girl you have' comments or the like.

To me its obvious - but then again, he is my son! lol... I never have him dressed like a girl either and if I did have a girl, youd probably be able to tell the difference then! hehe Up to about a year he was assumed a girl because he was born with a lot of hair and we did not cut it till then. Then around 2.5 he just decided he didn't want his hair cut anymore and as it is his hair and his body, I felt it was my job to respect that - which is why he has long hair. I don't even bother correcting people any longer unless we do get into a long conversation - then I simply say 'Oh hes a boy' or 'Oh hes my son' and they just say 'Oh - he has such a beautiful face/hair I just thought he was a girl'. Thats fine with me. I have never actually been offended by people mistaking him for a girl! lol

Eventually I can imagine he will correct people himself. As it stands, hes just bloody confused about the whole boy girl thing - despite the fact he has it down that boys have a penis and girls have a vulva... its not exactly something you can immediatly see on a person! lmao

And just cause I like to show off - my beautiful long haired boy!

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#8 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 11:19 AM
 
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My son is just 2.5 and had curly shoulder-length hair. We had several children at the park ask if he was a girl, or just assume he was a girl and refer to him as 'her' and 'she'. He's so young, I know he wasn't offended, and I wasn't either. If their parents had asked, I wouldn't have been either. Unless they were criticizing, which I know is not what you're asking.
To the kids that did ask me if he was a girl, I said no, and they said why does he have long hair? And I said I just love it too much to cut it!
I make the choice to keep his hair long, so I kind of expect people to have comments or questions. It doesn't offend me.

I respect your question about the child in a football costume. Thats a good thing to think about. I would think it was just best to not say anything if I didn't know for sure. I guess I will explain the same to my daughter when she understands. Like, girls can wear play football, just like boys can have long hair, etc.

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#9 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 11:45 AM
 
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My oldest son is almost always mistaken for a girl , he has beautiful hair that is down his back. It's not offensive to be mistaken as a girl but it is rude to make comments about how he should cut his hair. He also gets the 'but he's so pretty' comments and I only think it's offensive because people seem to think males don't come pretty (my two sure did ). My youngest son is getting mistaken for a girl some now that his hair is getting longish and he also has a pretty face and long eye lashes.

I do think it's offensive our culture tries so hard to force people into little gender boxes but being mistaken for a girl or a boy in itself is not offensive to me.

Ann-of-loxely, your son is beautiful!

OUR DAUGHTERS ARE PROTECTED SHOULDN'T OUR SONS BE TOO! :
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#10 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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My youngest are boy/girls twins and she has short hair and he has longish hair. I don't mind when my son is mistaken for a girl. What I mind is when I correct ("Yes, HE is ......") someone and then they insist on continuing and saying SHE. Or when they tell me I should cut his hair so people know. My son has gorgeous blond ringlets that give him a bigg poofy head of curls (to just above his shoulders). There is no way I want to cut his hair, but more importantly HE does not want to cut his hair.
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#11 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:38 PM
 
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My 10 year old DS has beautiful golden curls, large hazel eyes and a smallish beaky nose....he gets told he looks like an angel at least once a month LOL
His hair is his choice and as such I think he enjoys the attention his hair attracts. The times he gets called a girl ( while wearing his Carhart jacket and green wool pants) he finds it funny....

I agree that it is way more annoying for him to be told he "needs to get a haircut" blah blah blah...
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#12 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:45 PM
 
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It's so hard. I don't worry about offending the parents so much. But, I've seen older kids (5-9 age range) and you just can't tell if it's a girl wearing boy's clothes, or a boy with long pretty hair. So, I just say "That kid in the black tennis shoes" if I need to. I'd rather offend the parents than the kids.

We have a neighbor kid who's all grown up now. But, he was SO beautiful!! He made the prettiest girl I have ever seen. Long waist length thick black hair. Super long black eyelashes, and huge brown eyes. He would walk into the boy's bathroom and yell "I'm a BOY!" as he walked in. It didn't even matter if there was nobody else in there. LOL.
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#13 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:47 PM
 
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I'm not usually offended when people mistake my boys for girls. It's only after we've corrected the person and they keep up saying girl that I get annoyed. The comments about how if he's a boy he should have short hair or long hair is for girls, or when are you going to cut it; those are offensive. My dh's uncle was teasing my oldest about being a girl one day and my 3 year old marched up and told him that boys can have long hair too.

Innocently mistaking a child for the other sex doesn't really bother me.

I don't see how anyone can mistake my boys for girls, they look like boys to me. There's a picture in my photo album if anyone wants to look and tell me what they think. I see them as boys with long hair, but maybe that's just because I know they're boys.
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#14 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 12:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post
There's a picture in my photo album if anyone wants to look and tell me what they think. I see them as boys with long hair, but maybe that's just because I know they're boys.
All of you are beautiful! Your younger child in the middle looks like a girl. If I had only seen that photo, and you hadn't said you had boys, I would have assumed she was a girl. LOL.

But, in the other picture with the muscle shirt and the hat, he has long, but boyish hair. However, if you still insisted she was a girl, I would have believed that too.

He's perty.
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#15 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 01:08 PM
 
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All of you are beautiful! Your younger child in the middle looks like a girl. If I had only seen that photo, and you hadn't said you had boys, I would have assumed she was a girl. LOL.

But, in the other picture with the muscle shirt and the hat, he has long, but boyish hair. However, if you still insisted she was a girl, I would have believed that too.

He's perty.
Ok so I'll be a little more understanding when people try to tell me he's a girl! Thank you, btw.
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#16 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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I have a long haired 4 yo boy, and he is regularly mistaken for a girl. It's really not a big deal when it happens. I don't care, he doesn't care, none of us care. Like others have said, I don't like it when I (or especially when he) tell someone he's a he, and they keep saying she. Or, when they say he needs a hair cut. For one thing, it's likely to make him cry to even mention getting it cut, and for antoher, it's not really anyone's business.

My longhaired kiddo:

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e2...e799/007-6.jpg
http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e2...e799/006-6.jpg
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#17 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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I want to add that my oldest son sometimes let's his hair grow a little long, and it does annoy him to be mistaken for a girl. When it starts happening, he usually decides to get it cut. The last time he had it longish, some older man we passed at the grocery store commented on my "Three beautiful daughters" (I only have one daughter ) and as soon as we turned the corner he asked if he could get a hair cut on before we went home .
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#18 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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One of my sons has long hair and the other has medium-length hair (it would be called short on a girl). They both get mistaken for girls, especially my oldest with his shoulder-length blonde curls. They think it's funny and will just say, "I'm a BOY!"
I don't think it's anything to worry about. Gender isn't always obvious, and that's kind of the point, isn't it? No one should be offended if you guess wrong.
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#19 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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I don't understand why anyone would be offended by a simple mistake. Long hair is traditionally a "girl" thing in a lot of places.

The time to be offended is when people go on and on about cutting hair or keep calling the child "she" or otherwise being rude.
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#20 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:24 PM
 
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My 10 year old son thinks it's funny and perfectly fine when people mistake him for a girl (ummm, like every day someone will says, "your girls" referring to he and my daughter). Right now, his hair is a little bit longer (shoulder length) than my 8 year old daughter's bob. It doesn't bother him at all and he's totally used to it, and never feels offended by being called a girl. He has the choice to cut his hair any way he likes, and even though people sometimes mistake him for a girl, he doesn't care, he is growing his hair longer. Totally worth it to him. No biggie.
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#21 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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I don't understand why anyone would be offended by a simple mistake. Long hair is traditionally a "girl" thing in a lot of places.

The time to be offended is when people go on and on about cutting hair or keep calling the child "she" or otherwise being rude.
Exactly.

And the point of telling the story above about my older son deciding to get a hair cut as soon as he's mistaken for a girl is this - any boy with long hair, particularly kids with hair as long as my youngest's hair, is probably going to be used to having this mistake made and not overly bothered by it. If a boy is one who gets upset about it, he'll likely decide not to keep his hair long. So as long as people aren't being mean about it, it's not going to be a problem to make a simple mistake. It's when adults go on and on about it, or kids tease about it, that it becomes a problem.
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#22 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ah...thanks for all the responses. I guess I didn't understand what exactly it was that causes offense. As I have NEVER made a nasty follow-up comment, I guess I'm in the clear. But, I do hate the awkwardness...

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#23 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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Such gorgeous kiddos on this thread

My 8.5yo boy has long hair. Longer than his sister's, in fact. He gets mistaken for a girl on a daily basis. He and I just exchange knowing glances at each other. He thinks the gender stereotyping is hilarious. The other day when it happened I said I thought it might be good to just smile and say "i'm a boy with long hair" so people have an opportunity to challenge their own image of what makes girl v boy. It is funny that hair trumps all. My son picks very stereotypically boy clothing - he just likes his hair long. My daughter has short hair and loves pink and princesses these days. She never gets mistaken for a boy...
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#24 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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my son is only 4, but already getting the girl comments. i find it amusing actually. especially since he's always dressed very boyish, but then you can't always judge by their clothes. you can't tell by his name either because his name is tyren (pronounced TEERen), so no one has ever heard of that name and doesn't have a clue about his sex from it.

his hair is curly blonde and only just starting to get down to his shoulders...the curls keep it a halo around his head mostly. he looks like a dandilion, lol!

i have run into a couple little boys with the same exact hair and its funny because we always end up talking about how everyone thinks they are a girl. one of the dads said that he suspects its because everyone cuts their son's hair off before the curls get this long. but we all agreed we loved our sons' curls and had no intention of chopping them.

as a side note, his daddy has very long hair that he wears in a ponytail and i have always LOVED boys/men with long hair so i have never had any intention of cutting my son's hair short. i expect the girl comments and they don't bother me, for the most part. sometimes its a little annoying because i think the way he is dressed makes it very plain that he's a boy...frankly, i don't think there's anything feminine about him. but then, i AM his mom, LOL! it just irritates sometimes because its automatically assumed that longer curls=girl...and i feel like people need to open their minds a bit more. but oh well. it doesn't seriously offend me, just kinda annoying at first, like someone else said.

i would say...when in doubt...observe and listen. eventually the parent will say something about their child that will let you know the gender. and don't worry, i guarantee they are already used to the confusion. i expected it and actually find it amusing once i get past the initial annoyance.

and since we're sharing pics: http://smithantics.shutterfly.com/1006
that was in july, and his hair is actually longer now, but you get the point.
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#25 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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I have to add, the thing that's most offensive to me is when people know I have an older boy and assume that I have my youngest's hair long because I wanted a girl. Apparently letting a boy choose when to cut their own hair will make them a girl.

I have some issues with the stereotyping that my kids experience so I could be a bit bitter.
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#26 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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The first time that happened to us (dds thought a long-haired boy was a girl) I just explained to them that boys can have long hair, just like girls can have sort hair. Easy-peasy.
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#27 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 05:30 PM
 
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As the mother of a short-haired girl who sometimes gets mistaken for a boy, I don't see anything offensive about it. I don't even correct people who refer to her as a 'he', unless the conversation demands it.

What I don't like is when people get worked up because I didn't label her 'girl' well enough - like, why isn't she wearing a pink frilly dress so her gender is clear? My child's hair is short because it's convenient; her clothes are comfy and in pleasant colors; that's what these things are for, not for labeling her for the sake of perfect strangers.
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#28 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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As the mother of a short-haired girl who sometimes gets mistaken for a boy, I don't see anything offensive about it. I don't even correct people who refer to her as a 'he', unless the conversation demands it.

What I don't like is when people get worked up because I didn't label her 'girl' well enough - like, why isn't she wearing a pink frilly dress so her gender is clear? My child's hair is short because it's convenient; her clothes are comfy and in pleasant colors; that's what these things are for, not for labeling her for the sake of perfect strangers.
I find it silly that so many folks have to see it as an "awkwardness"-thing!

People have sometimes mistaken my girls for boys, and I've sometimes made the mistake of referring to a "he" as a "she." All you do is say Oops I'm sorry!

I just think gender is not often all that obvious until puberty. There's this preteen girl at the playground with facial features that used to seem very masculine to me.

I would have thought she was a boy, even with her long hair, except that I heard other kids calling her by a girl-name. Then as time went on I noticed some very womanly curves emerging. And I don't think she looks like a boy at all now.

And even if she still did -- what's the big deal?

I assume that if at some point a child decides it's very important that others make no mistake about their gender, they themselves will make the move to dress and wear their hair in ways that make it abundantly clear.

But really, why should gender make any difference in how we relate to others?

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#29 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 06:41 PM
 
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Ds gets mistaken for a girl all the time. He has long, fine/curly blond hair and soft features. I don't find it offensive or awkward when people make mistakes. I just correct them and move on. It can be hard to tell when they're little.

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#30 of 59 Old 10-31-2009, 06:47 PM
 
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My boy has super long hair. He's almost 4 and I've cut his hair maybe 2x. People always say what a beautiful girl I have- in the begining I was always like he's a boy!!!! But now I just smile and say thank you. It doesn't bother me and for my little guy, he just looks at the people who think he's a girl- like they are stupid for not knowing, he knows he's a boy I know he's a boy.

Samantha:: love.gif {Waldorf Doll Maker} broc1.gif{Organic Farmer}knit.gif{crafter} computergeek2.gif {blogger}  and crunchy mama to 4 boys under 5! run.gif

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