When I was but a wee diva growing up in Jersey, I used to shrink back in horror from all things pink and feminine. It may surprise those who know of my current love of stilettos to learn I was the tomboy of the century. Ok, the 70's at least. The first 10-12 years of my life, I wanted GI Joe's instead of Barbies. I wanted football gear, and cringed when directed to the cheerleading tryouts. Through my teens and twenties, while I learned to appreciate makeup and kick ass hair products that fueled the 80's, I still looked at tarted up little girls at dance recitals with total detachment. I was such a tomboy, I felt I was missing a "dress up" chip or something when thinking of traditional little girl activities. I was sure when the time came to be a mom, I would fall right in line with all the boy things. I would totally "get" them, since as a tomboy, I'd been more like them, right?
I now see as clear as day that there's a major difference between a girl who is a tomboy and an actual boy. She's still a girl. Oh shut up, it's not as basic as it seems. Ok, maybe it is. I love my sons to pieces, really I do, but they're boys and I am loathe to admit they simply do... not... think. They don't think things through from one minute to the next. As a girl trapped (willingly) in a baseball jersey, I still possessed the more mature verbal skills and what psychologists call "executive functioning skills" (what the rest of us call basic common f'ing sense) that girls laud over their male peers. Each day, I am faced with the horrifying reality that I am responsible for two young people who can not think of a consequence were it to shine as brightly as neon, or say, a siren.
You see, for years I thought my older brother had a screw loose or was a little slow on the uptake. I thought that was why I was always the one pushed forward to "do the talking" should a window happen to break, or vase happen to come crashing down. I thought he and all of his buds two years my senior were just shoving me to the forefront like some sacrificial lamb in a Dutch Boy haircut. NO! They were just too goofy to come up with plausible storylines, so they turned to the girl in the group. They didn't think, they were just all motion. They were boys and I was just a pretender. NOW I get it.
So fast forward to the present and I see that for decades I was living under a false assumption that I understood boys. I never did. I was like a person who learns a foreign language, but can never think in that language. I was so clearly a girl in boys' clothes and nothing more. Hell, would a boy even use a metaphor like that foreign language one? Now, when I try to figure out what would possess my sons to do 1/2 of what they do, I have to stop and throw away so much of what I remember from my childhood. I need to, because it holds no bearing. I used my brain; they don't. There are days I question if they possess them. To figure them out, I need to stop thinking. Then I will truly be more like an 11 or 13 year old boy.
Now you can sit back and think this is a ridiculously sexist post. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I think it's like any of the cliches we see that are cliches because they are based on years and years of example. Bad News Bears- who did the talking? Who was the brains of the outfit? The adult in charge? NO- Tatum O'Neil's character! Harry Potter is supposed to be the most powerful wizard ever, and yet who gets him and his male chum out of jam after jam? Uh huh. Hermoine. Who's the one who packs the proper supplies, takes the time to think through a ripple effect of an action, and talks them out of sticky situations? Uh huh, the girl. Hollywood has been trying to tell me for years: Girls who hang out with boys think; boys hanging out with boys don't. Plain and simple.
It's taken me 42 years of life to finally accept that I was so much closer to the girls on the playground cheering the game than I ever was to the boys lined up to blitz right over me. I thought. Boys don't. Ok, now that that's solved... : )