Beth

Some early tomboy moments:

The first (of many) elementary school visits to the principal is triggered by a bag of marbles coming open and spilling onto the floor from my 1st grade desk.

Praying for below 32 degree weather so girls could wear PANTS to school.

Buying GI Joes and accoutrement with my weekly allowance, at the PX on Saturdays.

Scripting a romance between my cowboy and Indian dolls and somehow knowing I would be better off not telling anyone about it.

Playing mumbly-peg with my pocketknife.

Having my teenage brothers show me off to their friends because I could kick a football higher and further than they could. (That was fun!)

My mom was sick for awhile when I was about 8, maybe 9 – I think she had a really difficult menopause and was being treated for depression; don’t know why, but I find that an interesting contrast to thinking about my childhood tomboy awareness – anyway, my dad took me shopping for new tennis shoes in our little town’s shoestore, on Main Street. He insisted I get a pair of boy’s running shoes. This was 1968 or 1969; girls and boys tennis shoes weren’t as androgynous as they are now, in fact no one had running shoes, so these were particularly male. We all could wear Converse, or Keds, but these were different. I had already figured out that I didn’t fit the mold for little girls, and I resisted these mightily, knowing that they’d brand me as weird and I’d have nothing but trouble at school. Once my mom came home, she took me out for new ones, but those few weeks were spent finding reasons to avoid wearing those shoes. I have never figured out why my Dad did that. He’d raised two girls already, one of them a very girly girl, and the other kind of an egghead, but still femme. I must have confused him.

I remember feeling I’d found a friend when I first read Harriet the Spy. I saw myself in her hoodie, tennis shoes and tools. And her notebook.

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