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My Masculine Side


I am not a girly girl. I was considered a tomboy growing up because I loved football and I hated frilly clothes. At school I had great guy friends with whom I hung out, ate lunch and even shared secrets. Unfortunately, I lost my masculine connection when the hips came in. I'll never forget that day. My mom made me wear a pink sweater dress, you know, one of those knitted clingy numbers, and I was walking down the key wing at Roosevelt Middle School when I heard some strange whistling sound behind me:

"Excuse me, aah, wait up. You must be new here. Can I walk you to class?"

My stomach began to turn. I knew that voice, but maybe I didn't. Why would my best friend ask me if I was new here? A dress and some pumps didn't make me look that different. When I turned around, he gasped. He looked me up and down.

"When did this happen? When did you start looking like a woman?"

Ugghh. It was over in a split second, but everything had changed: My hips had kicked me out of the boy's club. The guys started treating me differently, looking at me differently. So I stopped hanging out with them and started buying into my parents' notions of what it's like to be a lady. From debutante balls to modeling school, where we had to pluck eyebrows and put on makeup (yuck!), I learned to accept the fact that I was a girl.

Then my kids came along and tested every gender stereotype I was ever sucked into believing. I have one daughter who would much rather wear jeans and a sweatshirt than a skirt and makeup (I love jeans, but I do a cute blouse and some funky boots with them), and I have a son who won't leave the house unless his clothes look nice, neat, and coordinated. I have another son who has two favorite shirts. He wears one during the day and sleeps in the other at night — every day of the week! I have a daughter who loves dressing herself in a flower-girly mismatched bright-color thing but who plays with Power Rangers and fights evil villains with a light saber.

Somebody help me!

Shopping for this wonderful group of children makes for one big headache. Frankly, I'd rather serve people in need during the holidays and not receive or give a thing. That's too radical for my family, so I try to simplify the season by asking everyone to contribute to the kids' college funds or buy them stocks. Everyone thinks that's boring. So this year, I'm giving gifts. And giving in.

How am I suppose to know what all my kids like? Yes, I spend time with them, but they don't like what other kids tend to like as they've gotten older. I go online, read articles and reviews (sounds like I'm back to getting more certifications, this time as a gift giver). I call friends and conduct interviews with their children. Am I the only obsessive crazy parent who does all of this?

My next step, which is pretty bold for a shopping hater like me, is to take each of the kids on their own personal window-shopping spree and to write down what they like (within reason). Once I get the list home and compare it to my other data, I'll ask them to get rid of as many toys as they want to receive (I'm not moving back into clutter chaos).

I wish I had the courage to shop for it all online. If I had the faith that it would fit and that the material would lay right (not all material works with the hips!) and that the color really looks like that in person, I would shop for everything from groceries to office supplies.

People tell me that shopping and entertaining is just what moms do, what women do. One more thing I wish someone would have warned me about before I stopped hanging with the boys in middle school.