The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Flashback Friday!

MASSIVE aggravations with Blogger yesterday have prompted me to compose this week's Flashback Friday! in MS Word (which I rarely do) and then cut and paste it in here. Not my first choice, but I suppose it's worked. It's also provided a theme. A theme of dealing with life's little frustrations.

For today's Flashback Friday!, we're gonna have to get Mr. Wells to let us borrow his famed contraption, as we're hurtling back through the cosmos to 1970. Careful of the whiplash, and beware the tie dye, crocheted ponchos, and peace signs. Heh. They're all back anyway, aren't they? In any event, here's another one from the carefree days of my youth.

Growing up, we lived midway down a street that was, I suppose, lower middle income and urban. There were Italians and Cubans living on our block, and while my parents made mental notes of such things, most all those neighbors had kids my age and their ethnicity couldn't have mattered less to me.

In those days, there were probably 25-30 kids living on our block. Most of them within 2-3 years of my age, one way or the other. Sure, there were the natural rivalries and personality clashes, but most of us got along pretty well.

Of that group, there were far more boys than girls. I found myself able to "cross over" the boundary lines fairly easily, as I both enjoyed playing Barbies and was pretty fierce at kickball. Not all the girls in our neighborhood could…or even wanted to. But, I did.

I liked climbing trees and playing ball. And, if the boys were playing war, they'd sometimes let me be a spy. My ability to sneak into enemy territory without arousing much suspicion made me a valuable asset. The other boys wouldn't give me, a girl, a second thought. It was a dangerous mistake. I'd often make it back to my base with all kinds of valuable information. Heh. I thought that was just the cat's ass.

So, when my parents asked me what I wanted for my eighth birthday, my response, without hesitation, was an STP racing jacket and a Johnny Adventure elephant gun (which I can't find anything on now, so I'm probably misremembering the name...but it doesn't seem like it). My mother nearly fainted. What kind of girl would want such things. She tried to sell me on dolls and frou frou clothes. My dad smirked just a little from behind his newspaper, as she tried, desperately to change my mind. Finally, she came to, what was in her mind, a compromise. "I'll get you the jacket, but I WILL NOT get you a toy gun. Girls DO NOT play with guns, and I won't get it for you. You had better decide on something else, or I WILL."

I wasn't trying to be obstinate. There was just nothing else that I really wanted. A couple of the cooler boys had the jackets and I thought they (the jackets) were really hip. Heh. Looking at them now, it's all sentimentality and not much else.

When we played war, the boys wouldn't loan me a gun. Clearly, I needed my own, if I were going to play. The irony there is palpable, as I've strongly discouraged my own girls from playing with guns. Not because of their gender (in fact, I've specifically avoided buying toy guns for my nephews as well, and my girls have played with Hotwheels since they've been able to walk), but because I have rather deep-seated feelings about gun control. At eight, however, I wasn't nearly as socially conscious as I am now.

Over the course of the weeks leading up to my birthday, my mother would remind me that I had better come up with something she could get me for my birthday, or I'd just be stuck getting whatever she got for me. I let her know, in fairly respectful tones, that if I couldn't have what I wanted, it didn't matter what she got. As far as I was concerned, it really didn't.

My dad never really got involved in the discourse. Watching from the sidelines, often with a hint of deviltry in his manner, as my mother and I had the verbal fencing sessions that mothers and daughters often do. It was aggravating to know that my frustration…and that of my mother…provided him a little sport. He's got a reputation for having a slightly malicious sense of humor sometimes.

Try as I might, not to be upset with the knowledge that the one thing I wanted most in the world was something that my parents wouldn't give me because of some arcane and asinine rules (unlike white shoes after Labor Day, Highlander…heh), I simply was. I wasn't being completely unpleasant about it. That wouldn't pay, as my father would never have tolerated an attitude issue of that ilk. And, so, I grumbled around and sulked a little, hoping my birthday wouldn't be ruined by some wildly inappropriate gift my mother would give me.

My special day arrived with a subdued aura enveloping it. My mother handed me a box and as I unwrapped it, I saw the red STP jacket peeking from inside. It brought a hesitant smile to my face, though I knew the next box would bring disappointment.

I couldn't have been more wrong. My father, sweetheart that he was (and is), told my mother, in no uncertain terms, that if his daughter wanted a Johnny Adventure elephant gun, by God, she'd have one. It didn't matter to him that I wanted to play guns and be a little tomboyish. And he promptly went out and bought the gun for me, himself. It was, very much, to my mother's dismay, and he had to deal with her ire for some time afterwards.

Both gifts were cherished and, very much like the log jam at Blogger finally giving way and the associated frustrations lifting, I was very happy to get what I had wanted and getting beyond the emotional aggravation.

I remember putting the jacket on immediately and grabbing up the gun and, quite literally, running outside to show the boys. Only to return, hours later, when the street lights came on. A very fond memory indeed.

May your weekend be light on the frustrations and bountiful with the things that bring you joy. And may the Blogger headaches be gone for ever more.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

You'll put someone's eye out with that.....

I had radical activist parents. If they didn't approve of the social message of the toy, they wouldn't purchase it for me. My father was a hard-ass about it (NO Barbies, and especially NO Barbie Miss America, because he hated Bert Parks and the whole concept demeaned women...) but Mom was softer because, well, I was the only girl. So I'd get the occasional tea set or doll. But I was happiest making up plays for my stuffed animals to act in or playing with my brother's Tonka trucks or Lionel trains. They got the coolest toys!!!

6/09/2006 11:32 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I didn't like dolls (but I had the requisite amount of them given by well meaning relatives) but I did have guns. I only played with toys until about 3rd or 4th grade when I discovered BOOKS. After that, summer was finding a good tree, treehouse to curl up in or under and read. Every summer I spent most of the summer either reading or playing monopoly outside. I was a fierce competitor then. Glad to know I wasn't the only gun toting girl though. My mom was sure I'd turn out to be a lesbian and was tickled to death when I started reading everything I could get my hands on. At least it kept me out of pickup football games, basketball, and other unsavory girl past times.
PS Sorry I didn't respond to your comment on my post the other day. No excuse except being a bad blog buddy.

6/10/2006 4:19 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

Opus -

It didn't actually "shoot" anything. It simply looked like a gun and made a noise. But I rocked it nonetheless!

Your parents sound like the kind I should have had. I used to muse that I was adopted. (Thus providing much hilarity for my family.) My parents were the hillbilly equivalents of Archie and Edith Bunker. And they'll tell you that themselves. Loveable, yes. Radical? Heh. I don't think so.

No brothers of my own and only one dumb younger sister who never wanted to do anything because she might break a nail...or a sweat. I was a very unusual addition to my family.

Lisa -

I liked my barbies well enough, but never played with baby dolls too much. I remember a Christmas where I got a Chrissy doll. Do you remember those? She had long red hair and a crank on her back that would shorten her hair to her shoulders. I so wanted that doll and was so excited to see her under the tree. I didn't hit my reading stride until a little later than you did...6th grade, I think.

The thought of my parents thinking I might be a lesbian is comical. First...I don't believe they could even have conceived such a thing, and second...well, I liked boys and I think everyone knew that.

Not to worry about delays in blog post comments. I get to them when I can. I imagine most do. Sometimes, I never get to them. I wasn't offended, though. Glad to see you getting caught up, though. Missed you!

6/11/2006 6:17 PM  

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