If you grew up like she did, you’d call yourself a tomboy too. She has the attitude and the antique pictures on her wall to prove it.
“When I was a girl,” she said. “After school, we’d spend the afternoon catching frogs, fishing, climbing trees. A tomboy like me didn’t know HOW to be comfortable indoors. I was nothing like my other sisters, I wanted to be outside, in the mud.”
Muddy childhoods like hers are foreign concepts to modern-day kids. Things like climbing trees, throwing pocket-knives at pine trees, or catching frogs are forms of cruel and unusual punishment now.
Today, it’s video games, texting, or songs about getting naked and drinking enough tequila you forget your limo-driver’s name.
And folks have the gall to call it country music.
While we chatted in the kitchen, her eight-year-old grandson laid on the sofa, playing with his phone.
“Used to,” she went on, “my favorite thing to do was camp with my friends. Mama didn’t even worry about safety back then. We girls camped by the river, we’d get so dark-tan we looked caramel.”
Her grandson waltzed into the kitchen, his sneakers squeaking on the floor. Without taking his eyes off his smartphone, he managed to open the refrigerator, find an ice-cream sandwich, and inhale it.
“We’d spend weekends catching fish,” she said. “I could string trotlines good as any boy. You know, we tomboys are competitive.”
As it happens, I do know. I have one at home who does our taxes.
Her grandson plopped onto the couch. He clicked on the television. The house erupted with ear-splitting noise.
“Would you excuse me?” she said, standing on her shaky knees—which made her wince.
She hobbled into the den and flipped off the television. “Git,” she said. “I say, git outside! Now! Or so help me, when I’m finished, your butt’s gonna be purple!”
She gave him a look.
The boy headed for the door. She caught him by the collar. “Give it,” she said.
He gave her his smartphone, then kissed her cheek and left.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m just trying to raise him right. Ever since his mama run off, his life’s been hard.”
“It was drugs,” she went on. “He’s been through a lot. Sometimes, he needs more than an old woman.”
Well, it’s none of my business, ma’am, and I don’t know anything about children. But I believe that child got exactly what he needed.
And lucky for him.
Because a good tomboy is hard to find.