Every Christmas a mild regression happens in my family. It generally occurs just after the brie runs out and people start serving warm drinks.
Suddenly every innocuous comment starts to grate my soul, transforming me into the moody teenager I was in the 90s.
And, spoiler alert, Christmas ’19 was no different.
What was different, however, was that usually when festivities and family gain some distance these comments, incredibly teeth-grinding but generally throwaway, are forgotten… but not this year.
Instead, a new topic was served up between courses, and while initially invigorating to move away from off-key views on politics or the mild fat-shaming of anyone who’d let themselves go that year, this one really rattled me into the next decade.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” was asked on rotation by relatives to my son, Max.
My son who is three, by the way.
Listen: Should more people be raising their kids free of gender stereotypes? Post continues below.
And while his response was one of muted resistance, which was less about squirmy embarrassment and more down to Max not truly understanding the question, I, on the other hand, became vocally enraged by such questioning.
“Jesus, he’s bloody three!” was said over and over as I eased myself further into that teenage regression.
I’ll admit that my gusto to front these questions was, in part, down to personal experience.
Flashback to 1992 and I was being dropped like a hot potato by Adam, a boy I’d been friends with since kindy. He now only wanted be friends with boys and I hadn’t the right appendage.
But it was more than that.
In fact, it was a culmination of having heard this question be bandied about by friends, neighbours, the general public (but generally not all of them) and even a teacher from his previous daycare since Max was two.
I mean, two. He wasn’t even out of nappies and an arranged marriage seemed to be on the cards with a little girl he’d befriended at daycare called Anais.
Seriously people, let’s wait until he can at least sign his name on the marriage certificate before we start talking nuptials.
And while Max doesn’t quite understand this adult obsession with his relationship status, I can see the cogs turning. There’s this growing perception that boy/girl friendships are different to boy/boy friendships as all anyone ever does is ask him about the former.
At present Max has many friend who are girls. He also has friends who are boys. He also talks quite regularly to a small dog down the road called Carlos, who is definitely in the top tier of besties at this very minute. I say minute as things change quickly in toddlerland.