Growing up, I preferred to climb trees (or walls) to drop in at my neighbors’ houses, rather than go in through the front gate like everyone else. I distinctly remember wearing red shorts and a t-shirt (underneath a raincoat) to Hindi class when I was 10. What is the big deal, you ask? This was the late ’70s and early ’80s in Chennai in a conservative tambrahm neighborhood. A time when three and five year olds (that would be me and V) were frowned upon by old paatis for playing outside clothed in immodest “shimmis”. So, after arriving at Hindi class in short shorts, I recall being suddenly overcome with shyness, and sitting for the next two hours with dripping raincoat on (and rightfully getting several weird looks from classmates).
After all these years, I think I am still a closeted tomboy. I can’t go shopping to save my life. I can’t make small talk about clothes, makeup, and jewellery for hours like some of my friends. I would pick comfortable over pretty any day (ask N about my 20 year old sweater that he’s been trying to get rid of!). But, somewhere along the way (I think around my teenage years), I made that transition from tomboy to moderately girly.
My little N, who (even as a toddler) preferred Thomas-the-tank-engine to Barbie, and (more recently) Basketball to Bharatanatyam, seems to be in that transitionary place these days. I remember jamming heads with her on her 5th birthday – asking her to wear the lovely black and white dress that I had bought instead of her favorite jeans and t-shirt that she wanted to wear for the nth time – and winning that fight (shame on me!). Fast forward five years, and my crocodile-loving girl seems to have morphed into this poised little lady. Who prefers her hair neatly tied up, hangs out more with her girlfriends, smiles prettily when complimented on her looks, and claims that t-shirts with trucks and dinosaurs are “not really appropriate” for her anymore.
I have been through this phase myself. Still. I am blown away by the changes happening right in front of my eyes.
And I miss my erstwhile tomboy just a teeny tiny bit.