Ambassador of Reconciliation
6/1/16 at 07:31 PM 0 Comments

Tomboy Grandmas Have More Fun

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Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to me if I had been born in the twenty-first century to gender-identity-conscious parents. From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a boy. Girl stuff was boring. Boys had more fun. I wanted to dress like a boy, wear my hair like a boy, and play boy games. My cousin Carolyn and I (who as toddlers were caught walking on the railing around my aunt and uncle’s second-story balcony) gave each other boys’ names; she was Charlie and I was Duane. I wasn’t into anything domestic; I preferred to climb trees and jump out of them, pretending I could fly. I didn’t want a frilly bed; a sleeping bag on the ground was fine with me. When all the girls in my kindergarten class were taking stupid ballet lessons, I just wanted to be outside sledding with the boys. I didn’t have tea parties or play house with dolls; I pretended to ride a horse on the basement railing, and I played war with sticks for guns. My favorite sport was football, and I played tackle football with the neighborhood boys. For my ninth birthday, my Nana (prim and proper as she was) gave me a football outfit, complete with helmet, jersey, shoulder pads, and padded pants. One year for Christmas all I wanted was boys’ black buckle boots. Under the tree was a box that was a promising size and shape; I remember my annoyance when it turned out to be a dumb old piano lamp.

Did my parents wring their hands and agonize over whether to let me transition to a boy? No! They let me be me. There were sometimes arguments when Mom wanted me to wear a dress and I wanted to wear jeans, but (thankfully) the idea of changing gender wasn’t even on the average person’s radar back then. And how could I have known at age five or even fifteen—when I wanted to play on the high school football team and was thinking about becoming an astronaut—that one day I would not just play house but have a home with a husband and babies?

I am now 63 years old, have been married for 44 years, and have six children and eight grandchildren. I was not a stereotypical girl, and I’m not a stereotypical grandma. But I’m very grateful that no one ever called into question the fact that I was a girl and now I am a woman. I still like to hike, bike, snowboard, and do crazy things like obstacle racing. I still get a chuckle out of the time I went snowboarding with my grandson and we were going through the terrain park, seeing how many inches of air we could get off the jumps. There I was, getting ready to bomb down the hill, wearing my son’s borrowed goggles with holographic images of barbed wire on the lenses, with Tyler down below calling, “Come on, Grandma!” And last weekend Tyler’s sister and her friend and I had a little camping adventure in the backyard that took me back to my childhood—the girls in a tent, and me between two shower curtains on the ground in the drizzle that became rain.

Like every single human being on the planet, I am unique, and my story is unique. I tell it not to say that others ought to be like me, but rather to give freedom to each person to be the unique and special and wonderful individual God created him or her to be.

And that dumb old piano lamp that I hoped would be boys’ black buckle boots? It’s still on our piano to this day—along with pictures of our grandchildren.

The idea that each human being is unique and has inestimable worth is a theme of a number of my recent posts: The Inestimable Worth of Every Person,” “You created my inmost being,” “Who Am I and Who Will I Be?” and “Can You See Beyond?

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