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What kind of girl?

September 16, 2009 - Betsy Bethel
I wasn't really a tomboy growing up, although my mother cut my hair using a bowl and forbade me to play with Barbies. A haircut does not a tomboy define, however. To qualify, you have to do things like eat worms and get into fist fights and jump out of trees. I was too wimpy for that.

I wasn't very princess-y, though, either. I was ornery. I liked to run around naked and had a serious hankering for cookies, which I stole from any cookie jar I spied. I wasn't squeamish around bugs, but I wasn't going to eat any on purpose. I avoided conflict like I avoided Brussels sprouts.

My mother WAS a bona fide tomboy. Born in 1942, she was of the plastic-pistol-totin', chaps-wearin', horse-thief-shootin' generation. Make no mistake, she was not a cowgirl, but a cowBOY. And while she really only beat up one kid in her neighborhood, she gets credit for whipping them all as the story gets handed down at family reunions.

We did have two things in common: Our penchants for being ornery and being naked. I bet she liked her birthday suit even more than her Roy Rogers get-up.

So what kind of kid is my daughter Emma? Well, it may not surprise you that she likes to play "Naked Girl," running around the house without a stitch on. I did not encourage her, but nor did I condemn this behavior. How could I? She scurries from room to room, waggles her little bum and grins like she's the bee's knees.

My mother-in-law and husband, who grew up in fully clad households, didn't know what to make of Naked Girl at first. Now they just laugh and shake their heads. The worst is when Emma derobes in front of guests. She mooned the plumber the other day, much to our chagrin. (But then I thought, "Hah! Payback for all the plumbers' cracks we've witnessed over the years!") At age 3 1/2, it's not too big of a deal. If Naked Girl is still around in a few years, I guess I'll have to have a talk with her.

Ornery? Um, I'd have to answer in the affirmative. She hides our stuff, playfully smacks the bottom of any bent-over family member, chases the cat and is flat-out disobedient to the point it leaves me speechless sometimes!

She's a cookie monster like I was, and she's been known to be a little on the aggressive side.

But it's too soon to tell if she's a tomboy or a princess or somewhere in between, although I'm hoping for the last. While I don't long for her to be a girly-girl, I have not kept her away the Disney princess movies or Barbies. I admit I was kind of disappointed that she wants to be a princess for Halloween. Last year, she wanted to be a ghost and a princess, so I made her into a "ghost princess." This year, she only wants to be Cinderella.

I felt a little better when I asked her the other night what her favorite animals are. Without missing a beat, she answered: "Worms and roly polys."

At this point, she loves Thomas the Train and Bob the Builder and "Cars" as much as she loves "The Little Mermaid" and Cinderella and playing dress-up. She is as comfortable in jeans and boots as she is in frilly dresses and Mary Janes.

I guess time will tell if Emma will be a tomboy or a girly-girl or just a regular girl. The most important things are that, no matter what, she knows it's up to HER who she is, and that she is comfortable inside her own skin. We're on our way to that end goal, I think, considering when she lists whom she loves, she always includes herself!


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