My Father’s First Born Son

You know what?  I hated that anti pink aisle don’t put your girls in a girl box “girls” commercial — but let me tell you why…

When people ask me about my childhood, where I fit in on the family tree among siblings, I almost always say–much to the chagrin of my father and my husband who do not find it as funny or ironic as I do–“I was my father’s firstborn son.”  The fact that I am female with absolutely no Chaz Bono tendencies is what makes this statement funny to me.

My dad was known in the city I grew up as “the Coach.”  Maybe other people’s dad’s were known that way too, but I didn’t have many other coaches and certainly none who coached their own kids on the team.  My dad loved baseball.  Being LDS, he claimed there were two temples in LA: The Los Angeles Temple and Dodger Stadium.  I have to say I grew up a little more fond of the later than the former.  There is nothing in Houston like the Freeway Series (Angels Vs Dodgers), and locally the Astros are known as the DisAstros.  Houston never had Tommy Lasorda, Rick Monday or Steve Garvey, and it’s clear they still suffer from the lack of enduring figures.

Baseball was just the most important sport in my families life growing up.  My dad was always involved in Little League and so was my mom.  My dad was “the Coach” and my mom ran the snack bar.  That made us a sort of local baseball royalty in a way.  My dad even called me “Princess.”  Our royal cuisine made us privy to leftover hotdogs, burritos, cotton candy and even nachos on a regular basis.  I knew how to make snow cones and collect foul ball tickets like nobodies business.

Being a baseball princess didn’t save me from playing baseball, though I had wanted to play other sports at various times: gymnastics, tennis and even roller derby.  I didn’t really want to be a tomboy, but I was–a real tomboy: one that played baseball and actually matched skills with most of the boys on the field.  I loved frilly pink things, unicorns and romantic comedies.

My tomboy ambitions were never to play for the Dodgers, not really.  My ambition was as untomboyish as you can get.  I wanted to be a mom.  Not a mom like my mom, managing the snack bar every night, working during the day, making everyone eat health foods, preventing us from eating sugar cereal (the horror!) and leading Jazzercise–I wanted to be a mom like all the chubby happy women I saw at church every Sunday.  I wanted to be a mom like my young women’s counselors, the women who made cookies and knew how to make crafts before Martha Stewart ever dreamed of cashing in on it.

To me, the soft, round women at church were what I wanted to be.  They were the Venus De Milo: Beautiful, fantastic and ideal.  My mom was a Frida Kahlo.  Practical, hard and far too realistic.

It’s not as funny or ironic anymore to say I was my father’s firstborn son.  People now wonder if I had a sex change or if my parents were progressives that tried to steer me away from the dreaded ‘pink aisle’ and sexist stereotypes.  People think I’m making some sort of statement about equality of the sexes.  When I say I was a tomboy, it isn’t because I think there was some sort of eternal principal in playing like a boy. I learned in playing with the boys that there is value in being a girl.  I learned that when boys said they were intimidated by me, it was not a tool that helped me get to the goals I wanted to accomplish.

The value that is currently being lost as we shove our girls into yet another box we think is so much more progressive, modern and valuable labeled: TOMBOY, is a classic truth.  It’s not something you can quote or quantify because it doesn’t make sense to modern ears: It’s okay to be a girl that likes barbies, unicorns and gentlemen that hold the door open for you.  This isn’t to say that being a tomboy is wrong, or even to be discouraged if that is the way the girl wants to go.  It is saying that it’s wrong to try and drag her away from the ‘pink aisle’ if that is where she wants to be.

Don’t let the media and the educated elite convince you that girls are just like boys.  They aren’t.  And why would you want them to be?

When I say I am a surveyors daughter, they think I somehow advocate trying to install more women in engineering.  They can’t imagine I don’t even remotely want to be one.

People can’t imagine that growing up feeling like a firstborn son in a daughters body made me see there is value in a separation of sex roles.  They can’t imagine that it made me actually appreciate the stereotypes and wish that we could just let girls be girls and boys be boys without trying to engineer what has already been very well engineered. They can’t imagine I’m the type of feminist who has no problem with men and women having their own special places.  They can’t imagine growing up like a boy made me want my daughter to grow up like a girl.

Could you?

5 thoughts on “My Father’s First Born Son

  1. Yes, I can. My answer to the question about my family tree is that my older sister was an only child. My mother made it very clear in many ways that girls were special, to be given special treatment and privileges, and that boys could and should take care of themselves and not ask for attention.

    So I grew up feeling like a rat in the walls, my father worked a lot of hours as an engineer and wanted to be left alone when he got home, and my mother and sister were a family unto themselves with no room for me.

    When my son was born I made sure that he grew up knowing that he was important and special–I don’t think I spoiled him, but I wanted him to know that being a boy was just as good as being a girl.

    1. You are clearly teaching your son that he is ‘special’ but that doesn’t clarify if you raised him like a girl. Did you reject the Lego Aisle and take him to the pink aisle (even if he didn’t want to)? That would have been what the commercial suggests you do.

      I think you missed my point. My point is that you should have been allowed to shop in the Lego Aisle if you didn’t like shopping in the pink aisle. Though I rather doubt you were being forced to play with Barbies, it sounds like your parents clearly believed boys and girls are different even if the lesson you got from it was that girls are ‘special’ and boys are not.

      I am sorry you had a negative experience, but it is good that you could turn that into something positive for your son. Now go buy him a Barbie.

      1. I pretty much let all my kids choose their own toys, and only my youngest girl cared much for Barbies. My oldest girl and my son both seemed to favor trucks and robots.

  2. I think its important to allow kids to be kids. Girls to be girls, boys to be boys, but most importantly, to allow them to be who they want to be, play with what they want to play with, and wear (within reason, no revealing clothing) what they want to wear. Encourage them to find what they like, not what society tells them they should like.

  3. I enjoyed this blog post. I think we should just let kids be who they want to be and play with what they want to play with. I’ve seen parents who push their daughters into learning how to cook and clean, and push their sons into finding a career path, and I think that’s ridiculous.

    However, I’ve also seen blog posts that say there are no differences between boys and girls other than the gender roles that society pushes onto them. I think that is equally ridiculous.

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