The woman smiled at C. My little girl was crafting loops of color and shape on paper, happily creating. She was in her element.
Turning her attention to G, the woman asked, “And how about you? Are you into art like your sister? Do you like to draw and paint?”
“Sometimes!” G. chirped happily, her attention on hopping on one foot, zig-zagging over an imaginary line on the floor. “And I LOVE gymnastics!”, she added.
“Oh, she does?” the woman asked me.
I grinned. “Oh, yes. G. has loved flipping and climbing and fearlessly using her strength since she was a toddler. She loves it.”
She smiled back at me, then turned back to G. “Oh, so you’re a little tomboy, then!”
G. cocked her head. “A what?”
“A tomboy!” came the response.
G. shook her head, long ponytail swaying side-to-side. “No. My daddy’s Tom, but I’m a girl!”
The woman chuckled and that was that.
We headed home and I didn’t think too much about it.
G. came with me when I headed to the bus stop to meet A. There’s a neighbor girl her age who’s usually there at the same time. That’s a pretty big draw. Even if she weren’t there, though, G. would come.
She likes to climb.
That pic up there is quintessential G. Dress printed all over with cheery cherries, long long hair, cowgirl boots, and the arm strength to pull herself up anywhere she wants to go. Her nails are polished a bright sunny yellow and her young palms have tiny callouses already from the hard use they get.
The boys in intermediate school– they try to climb that sign-post, too. Sometimes, they’re successful. Sometimes, they’re not. Either way, the dad at the bus stop teases them a bit since they have such a short distance to go compared to G.
G. is strong. There is no other word for it.
But she’s just straight-up strong. Not “strong for a girl.” Strong.
She loves to do bar in gymnastics. The pulling and climbing and flipping are right up her alley. Her remarkable core and upper body strength help her do amazing things. Why wouldn’t she love that?
She also loves to wear sparkly necklaces, dresses, fancy shoes, and polished nails. She’ll climb more carefully in a dress, sure, but there’s no keeping her on the ground.
These traits– these “girly” traits– are not in opposition to her love of climbing. They don’t contradict it in any way. She isn’t “girly, but she loves to climb.” She isn’t “a tomboy who likes girly things.” She is just a little girl with a wide array of interests.
And, so, she’ll tell you–
She’s Tom’s girl, yes.
But she’s not a tomboy.