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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tomboy childhood

Once I thought I was going to write a thesis on how their environments differentiated southern writers from northern writers.  Fortunately I never did, and saved myself from being found guilty of terminal pretension.

I grew up easily classified as a tomboy, and I do have some theories on what makes a tomboy.

1.       The neighborhood is populated almost exclusively by boys.  On looking around, the tomboy finds no one to play with but boys, excepting the sissy girl next door who won’t play with you anyway because you play with the boys.

2.      The tomboy realizes early on to be part of the gang you have to play fair, not rat anyone out and take a hit on occasion.

3.      The tomboy is rational about not being a boy.  I almost quit being a tomboy when I got glasses in the fifth grade.  We settled it as follows:  someone held my glasses and I wrassled my challenger to the ground.  Having settled there was no need to do that again and risk breaking my glasses, I remained a tomboy for another few years.

4.      The tomboy’s parents have few expectations past doing well in school, helping around the house and staying out of trouble in the neighborhood.  And coming straight home when you need the emergency room for stitches.  It may have helped my mother was a tomboy with only a brother and boy cousins.

5.      The tomboy knows when to exit the field.  There’s a change in the air.  The side lot fills up for a pick up game, but the only hearts really in the game belong to the little kids who have been coming up.  Their big brothers would rather be under a car hood, and to tell the truth, you are packing your pj’s for a sleep over with the girls you’ve meet in ninth grade.

It’s sad that children don’t know childhood until they look back on it.  Hopefully they can appreciate it.  The concept of childhood didn’t exist until the late 19th century, and even then, as now, not for all the children in the country and the world.  Children have the same amount of time free today as in my childhood, but it seems filled with endless structured activity.  I won’t be around to see how that turns out.    Probably just fine; they’re all in it together.  And there will be a new generation of grandmothers fussing about the past.
Jan and neighborhood buddies enjoying an apple on a fall afternoon.


  1. You were a tomboy. How cool is that? I was a prissy book nerd. Kids today with all these electronic gadgets annoy me. We had 8 seventh grade girls at our house from church for the weekend the first of the month and they all had Iphones. Dear Lord I do not have an Iphone. What are these parents thinking?

  2. I was never a tomboy either. I had to be in the hours helping my mom a lot as early as the age of 7. I was raised to be a housewife, and being a obedient child, I went with the flow.
    Maybe if I'd played outside more and had a broader experience I'd have grown up to be more assertive. Ah well...

  3. I appreciate my childhood more now than I did in the day..I had my dolls and my trucks, my doll house and my cap guns...I had freedom.... it was a great childhood.

  4. It’s sad that children don’t know childhood until they look back on it. Hopefully they can appreciate it...
    Ain't it the truth.

    I had three brothers on the farm. Had to be a tomboy, even when wearing a dress!

  5. Too many children are wrapped in cotton wool these days by their parents when they should be outside playing :-).

  6. I wasn't allowed to play with the neighbourhood children..they were deemed too 'common', so my friends were from school.
    Jane x

  7. I was a tomboy too, spending a lot of time running around the beach, climbing trees and ignoring the doll and pram I'd been given one christmas.

    I don't think that structured activities counts as free time. True free time is when mum says get outside and play, be home in time for dinner. That's freedom.

  8. Totally a tomboy here! I could beat up any of the boys in my neighbourhood. And did.
    When we had our 22nd year class reunion, one of the boys was visiting with me. He said that all the guys in our class wanted to date me. I stared at him in shock. "Why didn't you?" I asked. "Because we were all scared to death of you," he said.
    Oops . . .
    (Have to apologize for being absent from your blog. My internet has been down and I just got it back up - All I could do was go to free wifi places and post my blog every day. Happy to be back!)