Where’s the Tomboy You Promised Me?


Proud and content in her new pink Chucks. Yes, pink.

Boobaby can’t throw a ball more than a couple of feet. And she’ll only try if cajoled to, or, as yesterday, when promised a pretzel.

She dropped the ball when she saw a boy climbing a high wall that had stymied her. Immediately she ran over and tried to boost his feet up to the next ledge. Despite her “help,” he attained the top uninjured and raced around up, looking down on Boo, unable to pull herself up so high.

The boy was a full year younger than Boo.

I’m a dad. A stay-at-home dad. So isn’t my daughter supposed to get all tomboyish?

To a certain extent, kids play games that reflect their experience. My friend Sue’s toddler*, as a San Francisco kid, naturally plays “Let’s find parking” with her dolls. But that doesn’t explain why today Boobaby and I spent a full half-hour playing “shopping,” an activity we never do. (Well, except on line.)

She and I rode our “motorcycle” (at least that’s kind of cool) to various “stores” and put our purchases in the motorcycle’s trunk. (Yeah, I know.) By the end of the game we had bought a dinosaur, an elephant, a doll, medicine, and a half-dozen other sundries. She even stopped to get me a pretend-coffee: she truly knows how to pretend-get on my pretend-good side. Finally the game ended with a trip to the bag store.


* * *

As I watched Boo polish her nails with sidewalk chalk — argh! where the heck did she get that idea? — I heard a pitched cry carry clear from one end of the playground to the other.


Boo’s only two, but I’m already positive that she’ll never ask me that question.

Nor will she be like the boy we saw in the bookstore the other day whose long-suffering mom was reading to him from a book called Space Chimps. (“And the chimp said, ‘Oh, no, don’t monkey with that rocket!'” Get it? Get it?) It’s horribly sexist of me, but I feel safe in predicting that such rampantly boy stuff will never interest her.

She loves pink. It’s the only color she even knows the name for.

Sigh, number two.

* * *

Then again, maybe astronomical apes and folding robot toys aren’t Boo’s cup of tea not because she’s feminine, but because they’re not really my cup of tea, either. Even as a kid, I was a lot more likely to read science than science fiction, and, truth be told, I wasn’t that great a ballplayer (although I did try).

We have warped Boo to our own interests a little. She digs bugs with me and paints with my wife. And one thing she’s especially interested in seems self-generated: helping. She helped the boy on the wall (without hurting him, even!). She bought me coffee. She’s always calling herself “a teacher” and directing me in various activities, which is cute, especially when she doesn’t know much what she’s doing.

So, like so many confusing moments when I just don’t get my kid, this one resolves itself with another invocation of “I guess things are unfolding as they should.”

Sigh again, but a contented one, this time.

Where’d she get the shopping thing, though?


*Apropos of nothing, could you go leave a comment on Sue’s blog and tell her to come to the BlogHer party with me? All those blogging women — I’m feeling chromosome-deprived. Thanks.