Sugar And Spice And Everything Nice

SheKnows is proud to offer The Parent Trap column, by mother and writer Lain Chroust Ehmann.
Lain Chroust Ehmann

I'm almost four months pregnant with my second child, and I'm deathly afraid I'm going to have a girl.

Now don't get me wrong - girls are great. Girls are terrific. After all, I am one. And there are some ways in which, in my obviously biased opinion, girls are superior to boys.

When I see my friends' daughters, I must admit I'm envious of their apparent ease at achieving milestones such as comprehensible speech, potty training, and learning to eat food instead of wear it.

Little girls are so darned cute. The little ones in my son's Gymboree class catch my eye with their pink dresses and matching leggings, cute mary jane shoes, hair held up in tiny, frilly barrettes. I also love the outfits identical to Benjamin's: Denim overalls and colorful t-shirts from Old Navy, with their feet clad in sturdy sneakers. Whatever they wear, they're adorable.

So, if girls are so wonderful, what's the problem?

It's just that after two years of raising a boy, I'm not sure I'd know what to do with a girl. Girls are just different. They play differently. They act differently. They smell, sound and look different. They require a whole new skill set that I'm not sure I'm up to mastering.

Take, for instance, the doll thing. Say whatever you want about nature versus nurture, I know from first-hand experience that most boys have an innate repulsion to Barbie. My son sees a Barbie and his first impulse is to yell, "No!" His second impulse is to rip her head off, eat her shoes, and put Play-Doh in her hair.

This behavior bothered me the first few times. Being a liberated, open-minded mother of the 21st century, I had no problems buying my son a doll if he showed interest. Unfortunately, Barbie and her accouterments turn Benjamin into a pint-sized Hannibal Lecter. That wasn't the kind of interest I had in mind.

As a result, I've never had to "play" dolls. I've had to pretend fight -- with swords, with fists, with anything he could possibly use as a weapon. I've had to act like Buzz Lightyear, sing Barney songs until I thought my vocal chords would quit in protest, and swing my son like an airplane until the vertigo sent us both reeling across the room. But I've never had to sit and pretend that Barbie and Skipper were getting ready for their first day of school while feigning interest in a revolving assortment of clothing, accessories and home decor.

I've also never had to "do" anyone's hair. I have fairly low-maintenance hair. On any given morning, I have about fifteen seconds to get my hair into the style it will hold for the rest of the day. I don't braid, fiddle, dye, crimp or curl, and I wouldn't know where to start if I had to. The proper placement of a barrette blows my mind - high? Low? Somewhere in between?

Growing a Girl Beyond the dolls and the hair, there are a host of other growing-up challenges I just don't know if I'm ready for. The hormones. The crushes. The mood swings. The very idea of two women in the same house suffering PMS simultaneously is, at best, horrifying.

My husband and I realize that the die, as it were, has already been cast. We'll take what we get, and we'll adore her - or him - just as we do Benjamin. If I have a girl, I'll learn to handle these things, just like I learned to play pirate and change a diaper - with a lot of trial and error.

As a second-time mom, I guess I've got the basics covered; it's just a matter of refining my technique. As far as the hair styling goes, I've got a long time before I have to worry about anything. Benjamin was bald as a billiard ball until his first birthday. In the meantime, I've got my eye on a book at Borders: it's called, "Braids & Bows: a book of instruction." Now, if they just had one called "Barbies for Dummies," I'd be all

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