Friday, September 18, 2009

What's wrong with being a Tom Boy?

When Kari (now 6) got her first doll, she threw it across the room and screamed "Let's WRESTLE!" She's never been what one would call "girly." About the only thing girly about her were her curls. By the time she was 5, she had racked up more ER visits than my other kids combined. DH and I like to joke that we have our own wing at the hospital. She's had to be superglued (modern equivalent of stitches) three times, two concussions, and dislocated her elbow and her shoulder. Oh and one other time she managed to put her teeth through her upper lip and get them stuck. We have pictures of her climbing the ladder to the attic before she could even walk.

She is constantly covered in dirt. Her clothes are so stained from being outdoors with animals and mud and whatever else she dreams up, that I don't even buy her new clothes except for church. Even her school uniforms I try to find used because she's just so rough on things.

I'm not sure when it happened or even how, but she's decided she wants to play with Barbies. I felt myself recoil when she told me the only thing she wanted for her birthday was a Barbie doll. She's never in her life played with dolls. She's never really played with toys. She's always been about animals and being outside and climbing.

Dolls? My daughter wants a doll? It just seemed so strange to me. I felt like I almost failed as a mother.

Barbies aren't banned in our house. I had a huge Barbie collection myself as a child. But for Kari to want a Barbie?? It was like there was a disturbance in the Force...

I couldn't come up with any good reason not to buy her one. In fact, she took her birthday money from grandma and bought herself another one. So now we have two Barbies. I'm secretly hoping maybe she'll decapitate them or pretend to feed them to her wild animal stuffed toys, like a kiddie version of When Animals Attack.

Meanwhile, I'm pretending this is a stage she's going through. She's in school now and perhaps there's some peer pressure going on. Her best friend is a bit prissy and loves dolls and make up. Maybe she's looking at her big sister who's always been girly and prissy and wanting to try it on. I just have to remember to let my kids figure out who they are on their own. I'm not a failure as a mother if my girls play with dolls.

And yes, I do find it ironic that I'm more upset about my daughter playing with dolls than I was when my son carried around a doll.


  1. That is EXACTLY why the Pigtail Pal moutain climber design was created in her honor! We'll even let her pick the color for the design.
    We need to lobby Mattel to make a girl-friendly doll like Pigtail Pals. Until then, we like Grovvy Girl at our house. Very cute, and they look like a little girl. Imagine that.

  2. It's awesome that you are letting her be herself! And that you're familiar with what she likes to play with.

    I was very much a tomboy growing up. I idolized my dad, who was a Marine. I loved hearing his stories and working along side him to make treehouses and to clear places for forts. I hated wearing dresses and I seemed to fall a lot when I wore them... they always seemed to get holes in them that way... weird, huh? :P

    It was while climbing on an old army tank in a park that I got a visit from Aunt Flo. I was wearing my dad's old Marine Corps hat at the time. I was _really mad_.

    Anyway, I have never been prissy or overly girl - I still love working hard and getting dirty - but I have become more womanly since I fell in love, got married to my husband Tom, and had children.

    He jokes and says, "What happened to the person I married? She wouldn't even be _using_ the word cute to describe something..."

    Instead of a tomboy, I'm now "Tom's girl" :P

    Embrace the phases :)

    It sounds like you're doing a great job.

    My advice to moms who are worried about tomboyish daughters is please don't run your daughters down. It's easy to get a complex when you think you're not good enough for your mom... it actually pushes girls away and encourages them to be even more boyish. Keep playing in the dirt with her. Get her into gardening :)

    Your relationship with your daughter and love for her will shape her as a young woman more than Barbies or dirt ever will.

    Much love,

  3. Tomboy here and proud of it! Kudos to you for embracing her tomboyishness!


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