I think my daughters are wonderful. Even if I try to set aside my parental partiality, I still think they are great kids, spirited but well behaved, polite, kind to each other and to other children, engaged with the world, and rather beautiful.
Seriously, they are very beautiful, and when the three of them are together, the effect is, I think, stunning. I get random compliments from strangers about them. They’re common enough that I have had to develop a standard response – a big smile, and “Thank you. I’m very proud of them.”
So when an elderly lady tapped me on the arm in the supermarket the other day, I turned to her with a smile. And she said, “What a shame they didn’t give you one boy among that lot.”
In front of my girls, too. They were bewildered, and really a little upset about it.
Despite wanting to say something very rude in response, I simply replied, “Oh! I’m very happy with my lovely girls,” and left it at that. Later on, over lunch, the girls talked about it. I tried to explain that it was quite an old fashioned idea, that probably it was based in the idea that sons were important because they inherited the property / carried on the family name / would earn an income so could support elderly parents / whatever. And yes, I loved them all dearly and couldn’t do without them, and that of course, if I had sons I would have loved them dearly too. They were, I think, reassured.
But I’m still astonished by the sentiment, and by the fact that someone would say something like that to me, and that they would say it in front of my daughters for good measure.