Oh, if only I had just one day to be a kid again. Looking at the huge smile on 5 1Ú2 year-old Paul Boulet's face after a day of fishing with his dad, Mario Boulet, at Topaz Lake a couple of weeks ago, pretty near says it all. I should have been born a boy, that's it, I just should have.
I guess my mother placed a curse me on the day I was born by giving me the name Jonni (pronounced Johnny.) Oh sure, she feminized the name by the way she spelled it, and to add insult to injury, she even gave me the middle name of Sue. The teasing was endless.
Growing up I used the double name so I wouldn't get teased about having a boy's name and in high school years, I dropped the middle name because I was teased about having an Okie name. One thing is for sure, I can always tell how long I have known someone by how they address me. The other thing is, much to my mother's chagrin, I grew up a complete tomboy, a fact I am most proud of to this day. One indisputable fact I discovered at a very early age is that boys just got to have a lot more fun than girls did when I was growing up.
Being raised in Pollock Pines, at a time when there were more trees than there were houses, the forest was my playground. Mom tried so hard to make me a "lady-girl" like my older sister was, but finally gave up in despair. After all, frilly dresses hampered my tree-climbing ability and it was just too hard to play army and be a believable soldier, dramatically rolling in the dirt while dying in the heat of battle with a dress on.
I do admit, it was much nicer, and softer, to fall down dead in the bear clover, otherwise known as mountain misery because of its pungent smell. Mom would bar the door and tell me I couldn't come inside until I was ready to take a bath. Funny thing is, to this day, the scent of mountain misery evokes happy childhood memories and I love the smell of it.
My aunt had always wanted a boy in the family and she fed my tomboy nature by buying me a dump truck and a road grader for my fourth birthday but my yearning for a train set was never fulfilled. I was the envy of every boy in the neighborhood though and a whole lot of driveway gravel was scooped and hauled with those wonderful toys. I had my cap guns and fancy jewel-studded holster, just like Roy Rogers, but my starring role was that of Trigger.
I couldn't understand why Mom got so upset when I came home from school with the neck of my sweaters soaking wet from using it for the bit in my mouth by buttoning just the top button and sleeves stretched long enough to fit a knuckle-dragging gorilla because they had been used for my reigns. Moms can be so short-sighted when it comes to a child's imagination.
During my high school years I became a closet tomboy. I learned to dress and, occasionally, even act like a lady. I tried the make-up routine, only to discover that most guys really don't really like kissing that slippery stuff on a girl's mouth and mascara looks real crummy if you forget you have it on and rub your eyes. It also takes on the consistency of milk chocolate when you ride a dusty trail horseback chasing cows or back road quadding.
Yeah, it took raising three boys to help my tomboy tendencies emerge from the closet once again. Games of baseball, target shooting and wrestling matches on the living room floor were far more fun than being a June Cleaver type of mom and I think they appreciated that in me. How many mothers can say that one of their sons bought them a .22 caliber Marlin rifle for Mother's Day?
It takes pictures, like the one of Paul and his big fish, to make me realize some of the fun I missed as a child, back during a time when girls were supposed to play with their dolls and have pretended tea parties while boys were out doing all the cool stuff that I wanted to go do too.
Paul is a lucky little boy. He will be able to look back at that picture someday and remember a special time fishing with his dad. Paul is a Minden Elementary kindergartner with his whole life ahead of him. He shares his life with his younger brother, Jacob, his mom, Deb Boulet, who owns the Impressions beauty salon in Topaz Ranch Estates and of course, his dad, Mario, who takes him fishing.
For me, my tomboy heart will keep on keepin' on and maybe someday I'll get to go fishing too.
-- Jonni Hill can be reached at JHILL47@aol.com.