I have long believed that there was some kind of secret orientation to girlhood where secrets of the girly sisterhood were explained. Clearly, I was not invited and I think I missed some of the finer points that govern girly conduct. For example, I do not even like the word cuddle let alone the actual act. (Quoting my 15 year old nephew "It makes me want to throw up in my mouth"). I use quotes like - "It makes me want to throw up in my mouth". I think Valentine's Day is a holiday promoted by the greeting card cartel (or "cardtel" for short) for the sole purpose of exploiting an unwitting consumer base, and if Meg Ryan's in a movie, I ain't watching it.
But it became clear to me today, as I watched my 5 year old niece play soccer, that the major difference between me and other girls can be summed up in one word - and here it is- "balls". (Stay with me people). As I watched my niece run around the field with her little pigtails bouncing, in a shirt that came down to her shin guards, the only thing I could think was "GET THE BALL". While the other moms were shouting encouraging words like " do your best", "good try, Honey" and "that's okay - it really doesn't matter which goal you score on Sweetheart", I seriously wanted to yell - "don't let him take that ball from you - KNOCK HIM DOWN". (Apparently, the rules on parental conduct have changed since I was in sports. Apparently, we don't say things like this anymore. When I was in a game - any game - my family was like some kind of crazed tribal war party ready to verbally assault anyone in their path including, but not limited to: the referees, other parents, players, and food vendors. It was how they showed they loved me. There was none of this silent treatment, passive-aggressive, "parental observer" nonsense.) At one point a little boy from the other team actually yelled "I want a hug mommy" and ran off the field, during the middle of a "play" (I use this term loosely). His mom totally hugged him and giggled about how cute her little cherub was. I, on the other hand, noticed my niece's team's advantage and was on the verge of yelling "score now- that little momma's boy left the goal open", but thought better of it. The thing is, if that were my little cherub, I would've thought the same thing, and sent his little goalie butt back in the game. I ask you, what kind of boy-girl am I, to put a ball in front of a little boy's affection for his mother? A winner, that's what. It's not a pretty snapshot of my soul, and I'm not saying it's right - but there you have it.
I was always more aggressive than the girls around me. I never wanted to be a cheerleader. If those girls needed someone to cheer for, I figured they could cheer for me. I never cared what my hair looked like (while I was playing). In high school I let my boyfriend (a soccer player himself) shave the whole back of my head because the hair was bugging my neck when I had to set the volleyball (something I did often, since I was a setter). My mother took it rather well, I must say.
I wasn't one of the girls that screamed and ran away when a little boy chased her on the playground. If a little boy chased me, either I would turn on him (who's chasing who now, little man?), or simply outrun him (the best feeling in the world is to outrun a boy - even now. I know, I've got "issues"- are you not paying attention?). And I certainly was not going to be polite and take turns at getting the basketball... or volleyball, or softball, or baseball. (Although, ironically for this post, never a soccer ball. We didn't play soccer in the Montana of my childhood. It was a state law or something - too European for Big Sky Country.)
In the end, my niece's team scored "some" goals and the other team scored... I'm going with - "not enough to beat us" goals (again, scorekeeping is not allowed). My niece scored three times, and I kept my big mouth shut - for her sake. But deep down, when I watch her play, I can still feel that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you're going to get to the ball first. And the adrenaline rush of being better than that other kid, and seeing that quantified, with mathematical certainty on a score board is something that, though I know I should've gotten over by now, will always feel really, really good. Which just goes to show that sometimes - to this girl at least - it's totally about if you win or lose and not at all about how you play the game.