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The Playroom

by Kelly Ann

Boys commanded the preschool playroom:
solid wood blocks,
red, white, and blue stackable legos,
miniature trains with broken wheels,
and Hot Wheel cars.

In the other room, the girls played:
a yellow and white kitchen set,
soft brown and white teddy bears,
dolls with frilly curls and bows,
and Barbies with tangled hair.

Building block towers as tall as I
and constructing Lincoln log forts
was more fun than
cuddling bears, playing house,
and wishing I was a Mommy.

At three, tears burned
down my angry face
when the boys told me
not to play with their toys
because I had cooties.

During recess, while everybody else
made castles in the warm sand,
slid down the red plastic slide,
or teetered up and down,
I did not play or run around.

Hunched low, my heart pounding,
I quickly glanced for stragglers.
Quietly, on my hands and knees,
I crept into the boy’s playroom
and played with the blocks and legos.


(While cleaning the garage, I recently found this poem I wrote in college.  It is based on a true experience and is seemingly appropriate for this site.  Please share any thoughts that you might have.)

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10 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Kelly Ann. It reinforces to me how imperative is it to open up space for people to embrace their unique, individual selves, without feeling constrained by societal expectations.

  2. Deborah says:

    Kelly Ann: This reminds me of the song that first made me love Dar Williams:


    I won’t forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
    I said I was a boy; I’m glad he didn’t check.
    I learned to fly, I learned to fight
    I lived a whole life in one night
    We saved each other’s lives out on the pirate’s deck.

    And I remember that night
    When I’m leaving a late night with some friends
    And I hear somebody tell me it’s not safe,
    someone should help me
    I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

    When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
    Climbed what I could climb upon
    And I don’t know how I survived,
    I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.

    And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.


    It just gets better from there:

  3. Deborah says:

    Wow. Did that link just embed itself as a video in the comments? When did our site learn to do that?!

  4. Kelly Ann says:

    Caroline, I do believe it is important for people to express themselves without any societal expectations.

    Deborah, thanks for sharing the lyrics. I wasn’t familiar with them. They’re great.

  5. EmilyCC says:

    Beautiful poem, Kelly Ann. I have a son this age who is really into his purse and wearing a long t-shirt as his dress. I’m glad that so far no one has said a word about it.

  6. D'Arcy says:

    I grew up wearing He-Man underware (which was only made for boys) and playing with boy toys. My parents never made a big deal about it. They never said, “Oh D’Arcy, you can’t get that underware, it’s for boys!” or anything else. I had baby dolls and the largest collection of blocks around. I was much more into the art of constructing the barbie house than I was in playing with the barbies. Luckily I had parents who encouraged and supported that.

    Thanks for sharing Kelly Ann!

  7. Kelly Ann says:

    Thanks D’Arcy! My parents also never made a big deal of it. I played with my older brother all the time at home but I found lines in other settings. I think it is great when every kid can just be themselves. The same goes for adults too.

  8. Kathy says:

    I have three daughters and wanted them all to be well rounded. I bought them Tonka trucks as well as dress up clothes. The trucks gathered dust and the dress up clothes wore thin with use. I think it’s important to offer choices, but to support who ever they are, whatever that is.

  9. Kelly Ann says:

    Yes, Kathy, I agree. Like Caroline originally said people should be able to embrace their unique selves. I had the choices and didn’t realize how privileged I was for a long time.

  1. December 30, 2009

    […] I question myself.  I dream. I eat. I play. […]

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