Madison found the T-shirt in Target, which twisted up a familiar put-down and tossed it back in boys’ faces.
“Yeah, I kick like a girl,” it admitted. “Jealous?” You ought to be, boys. I get it. A man will call his boy “son,” name him after himself, or even pass on a II, III or IV. He’s your heir. He’s your pee-in-the-snow partner. He’s your buckaroo; a chip off the old block, even.
He might also become mama’s boy, a lover-not-a-fighter, or, heaven forbid, a Thomas the Tank Engine fan. A man will call his girl many things, but likely, the family name will get wiped out.
She cannot be Eli Junior.
She’s a champ, but not a buckaroo. Forget about the snow. You can, however, bring your pretty girls to the park and sling a football around, with good form. (Yes, I can do it, too). You go, girl.
Day at the pool
Sometimes, it’s just not your day. Like one Independence Day at the neighborhood swimming pool. We packed the floaties and diving toys, flip flops and towels, and trekked to the pool on a day that featured free burgers, dogs, and drinks.
An American Dream, in my book.
Madison and Hayden cannon-balled in, football tucked under Hayden’s arm. Amid dives, splashes, and lifeguard whistles, an intriguing keep-away match developed. Teams divided down gender lines: Two Pacheco girls vs. Every Boy in the Pool.
Camdyn, already ashore for a hot dog and can of generic root beer, watches as one of about seven boys swiped the ball from her sisters.
She didn’t dive in to help. Did she know she wouldn’t have to? She parked it at the end of my lounge chair like it was a box seat. The look she shot back at me said she felt sorry for the boys – and that she remembered I was a boy, too.
Where was I?
Boys take their shots
Absorbed in the match, yet set to jump in if things got chippy. Honestly, I rarely worry about this with my girls. Boys take their shots. My girls take them right back. The boys jived and celebrated tiny victories.
They held the captive ball high, taunting the girls into any “girly” action they could muster. A plea? A wail?
Not today. Instead, Elise and Marie initiated a little silent communication. They postured themselves around their indolent foes. I noticed the boys’ throws, for all the trash talk, becoming safe, ordinary, lacking in any degree of courage or difficulty.
It didn’t take long for the boys to make a mistake.
One kid launched the football toward another boy that missed the mark horribly. Marie darted after the free ball, beating a couple of boys to it. The beaten boys converged, suddenly interested again now that possession was lost.
Hands shot up, arms flailed, and through it all, Marie’s goggled face looked for an out.
She slipped away, and played the ball beautifully to open water for her sister. The race was on. It was over faster than a Joey Chestnut hot dog. Elise, first to the ball, hoisted it over her head, and sought out her options as the unkempt turd herd descended.
She spotted me on the lounge chair, and heaved a perfect pass over her defenders (and the one boy poolside who ambled in to try and save his gender.)
We were every bit Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. Touchdown!
Game over. But that Johnny-come-lately kid? He turned to me and jutted out his greedy hand. “Gimme the ball!” he yipped in his pre-pubescent way, somehow underestimating my allegiance to the winning side.
“I don’t think so, son,” I gloated. “This is my ball. Those are my girls.”
Take your heirs, your juniors, your benevolent cartoon trains.
I’ll take the kids who throw like girls.