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When I was 11 I desperately wanted to be a boy.

(75 Posts)
ExDancer Sat 18-Mar-23 11:48:12

This is not intended to be a serious in depth discussion, just my memories of childhood.
We lived near a busy railway junction in the 50s and my brother and his friends used to go train spotting. They all had a little book with numbers in, and they crossed them off when a train came into the station.
My mum wouldn't buy me a book because I was a girl, we didn't get pocket money nor the chance to earn any - chores were done as chores and were unpaid.
The boys also got lifts on the footplate down to the engine shed and repair shop, but the kind engine drivers didn;t take girls.
Oh how I longed to be a boy!
I'm so glad no-one took any notice of me.

jocork Tue 21-Mar-23 16:23:10

I remember being aggrieved at not having a train set. I swapped some other toys with my brother but couldn't fit the train set in my room as it was mounted on a large board that was too big for my room but fitted in his! So the swap didn't really work so I had to swap back! I don't think I really wanted to be a boy, just be able to play with boy's toys etc. There are more gender neutral toys now I think but still lots that aren't.

CoolCoco Tue 21-Mar-23 16:31:10

I wanted to be. boy - much more freedom and better treatment. So glad I wasn't given the option to become " gender fluid" at a young age as lots of kids in my Gds school seem to be changing their names and pronouns. I honestly think we shouldn't be pandering to these "choices".

LadyGracie Tue 21-Mar-23 16:33:05

Our DGD pretends to be a cat. She’s 6.

Mirren Tue 21-Mar-23 18:17:07

In 1973 my careers teacher sent me to sit in with the school dentist.... it was awful.
His reason?
I wanted to be a doctor but I " would never get into Medical School..because I was a girl " !!!!!
Stuff him .
This bolshy young lady made the grade, won my place at Med school and, nearly 50 years later, after a life that's included a husband and 4 children, I am STILL WORKING ... which is more than most of my male peers .

Iam64 Tue 21-Mar-23 18:54:21

Great post Mirren and thank you.

Hands up who wanted to be George, the girl in Famous Five. I did and Jo in Little Women. Role models 👏

Grandma70s Tue 21-Mar-23 19:11:15

I’m amazed by some of these posts. In what way did boys have ‘more freedom and better treatment’? Not in my world. I certainly didn’t want to be George in the Famous Five (who I knew only by repute, as I didn’t read the books) and still less Jo in Little Women . I would have quite liked to be Katy or Clover in What Katy Did, Pauline or Petrova in Ballet Shoes, or Anne of Green Gables - especially Anne.

Grandma70s Tue 21-Mar-23 19:14:40

I played with my brother’s train set, and his toy cars, but then he took to making model aeroplanes and I had no desire to do that. It’s useful to have a brother, though, because you can try each other’s toys and see if you like them.

Saggi Tue 21-Mar-23 19:35:34

I wanted to be a boy as well …just because of the freedom they had from chores! But once my Saturday morning chores were done and dusted…I , like my other fellow girls in our street were out there with the boys (we were outnumbered by about 3-1) and playing cowboys and Indians …hide and seek…knocking on doors…marbles…footie…cricket!! We had no choice if we wanted to play it had to be boys games….and as they were ten times better than ‘playing house with our dollies) we had a great time . The boys weren’t prejudiced against us…until they were taught to be!!

Shizam Tue 21-Mar-23 20:05:07

Surprised and delighted that so many, like me, wanted to be a horse! Had an imaginary stables full of horses in garden. My favourite was a large black gelding called Reginald…thought it was a beautiful name!

Galaxy Tue 21-Mar-23 20:12:38

You have found your tribe Shizam smile

Grandma70s Tue 21-Mar-23 21:14:12

It is outrageous that some girls were expected to do chores when their brothers were not. That didn’t happen in my family, I’m glad to say. We were treated equally.

Grandma70s Tue 21-Mar-23 21:19:39

I did love horses, and my parents said I could have riding lessons if I passed the 11+. Of course, by the time I got to the 11+ I had forgotten all about riding lessons, and wanted only to be a ballerina.

NanKate Tue 21-Mar-23 21:37:45

I was given a Davy Crockett hat and had a pistol 🔫.

‘Hi oh Silver’.

nanna8 Wed 22-Mar-23 00:14:49

My mum was from a family of 10 . The 2 boys were given their food first and had first pick of everything. I asked mum if she was bothered by this and she said, no, that’s how it was then . She was born in 1916. When their parents died they left the thriving business and nearly all the money to the boys, the girls got £200 each . Just life in the north of England, no resentment. Granddad never lifted a finger round the house, had his evening meal and then went out to his club or Freemasons or whatever.

FannyCornforth Wed 22-Mar-23 02:19:35


You have found your tribe Shizam smile

Stable, surely?

My aunty H. also wanted to be a horse.
She actually had an imaginary horse when she was 4 (I don’t know its name).
My Nan (her mom) and took H shopping at the local high street.
When they got home from the shops, H burst into tears.
She had left her horse out side the Post Office.
They had to go back and get it grin

Ali08 Wed 22-Mar-23 04:54:50


I remember telling a neighbour that I was going into a competition to win a pony and would it be ok to keep it in his orchard. He was agreeable. Did I win the pony…of course not but I do like to prepare in advance!!

I wonder if he would have kept his promise had you won that pony?
Great place for a pony, not so much for the orchard owner!

NotSpaghetti Wed 22-Mar-23 06:04:01

This thread is interesting as so many things resonate.

Paperbackwriter and Iam - I am so with you on the girls clothing thing. In the 70s and early 80s we seemed to have lots of "unisex" clothing and much less pink. My 1980 baby had lots of stripes and darker colours including purple and brown.

I had both dolls and a fleet of cars as a child. I had popguns/capguns and both cowboy/Indian outfits made by mum (though don't feel the same about this as a game now!).
I also played in the woods and brook as well as '"training" horses with a skipping rope like so many others here.

My parents didn't chanel me into "girls" jobs and were disappointed when I married young as they felt I might not "make the most of my education". They felt strongly that I should "do well" and this didn't involve marriage at that point.

Iam64 Wed 22-Mar-23 08:02:48

When aged about 9 I told mum I wished I was a boy because they had more fun, she reminded me I had fun playing with them but also had sisters and girl friends I played with. We get the best of both worlds, she said. I remember feeling reassured by this message and have never forgotten it.

As for training ponies, we had gymkhana jumps ie mops, brushes and buckets in our garden which we cantered round endlessly. My daughters born in the 80’s continued this tradition though they also had lessons on real ponies

Oreo Wed 22-Mar-23 09:01:54

A fun thread to read.
Doesn’t resonate with me tho, never wanted to be a boy or a horse or a cat.😂

Grandma70s Wed 22-Mar-23 09:22:55


My mum was from a family of 10 . The 2 boys were given their food first and had first pick of everything. I asked mum if she was bothered by this and she said, no, that’s how it was then . She was born in 1916. When their parents died they left the thriving business and nearly all the money to the boys, the girls got £200 each . Just life in the north of England, no resentment. Granddad never lifted a finger round the house, had his evening meal and then went out to his club or Freemasons or whatever.

I was brought up in the north of England, too, and there was none of this sort of injustice. My mother was born in 1907, and believed in equality.

I just can’t believe that the girls treated like this, as less important than boys, didn’t object and make their objections known.

fiorentina51 Wed 22-Mar-23 09:27:11

I never wanted to be a boy but, having an older brother meant that I became an 'honorary' one.
I played with most of his toys unless he was in a bad mood and was part of his gang, the only girl.
This meant that I was frequently the bad guy when playing cowboys and often tied to the lampost, no trees being available in our neighbourhood.
We fought often and one Christmas I recall Santa giving us a pair of boxing gloves each. I didn't own mine for long as, on Boxing Day I had managed to smash a tray full of crockery due to a poorly aimed right hook.

My Italian mother eventually took me in hand in attempt to turn me into potential wife and mother material.
I had a linen chest for my 13th birthday plus a double blanket. The start of my bottom drawer. I wasn't best pleased.
I was expected to do the chores around the house and help with cooking. My brother helped with the family business and eventually, so did I.
By the time I was 17 and at work the budding feminist in me finally rebelled and I refused to clean my brother's bedroom.
My mother was horrified when I suggested he did it himself!
"It's not a man's job!" She said.

My dad remained quiet on the subject but did encourage me regarding my education. He was the eldest of 4 boys. Both parents worked so dad and eventually his brothers were all expected to be able to cook, clean, iron clothes and care for the little ones. Ahead of her time was granny!

I recently attended a school reunion and met up with several of my friends from the past.
One commented that I was always "one of the lads." I'd never really thought about it before but he was right. I did enjoy their company and humour. They were a great bunch.
I think I must have been quite lucky.

Fleurpepper Wed 22-Mar-23 09:47:28

fiorentina, I thought I'd written your first chapter. Exactly the same.

But not the rest. My mother was the head of the household, had the car and the best paid job and kudos. She was different to all the other mums, and I loved it. She was actually the oldest, and yet she seemed decades younger, and all my friends and older brother's (2.5 years) all admired her and came to talk to her about all the things they couldn't talk about to their parents.

I never wanted to be a boy, and became very aware quite young I could be a tom boy, and still very much a girl, and that it was a very privileged position.

leeds22 Wed 22-Mar-23 10:45:37

I too wanted to be a boy, they always seemed to have more fun and as I grew older I realised they also got better jobs and were paid more. Spent my childhood climbing trees, playing cowboys and indians with my cap gun and sometimes wearing my Davy Crockett hat. I wasn't allowed trousers but when I was 11 I won some money on a one-armed bandit and insisted on spending it on a pair of black watch tartan trews.

Esmay Wed 22-Mar-23 11:31:32

To my mother's complete and utter horror - I developed into a tomboy by the time I was eight .

I loved farm life , playing with dogs , riding horses and wearing jodhpurs .

I hated wearing stiff frilly frocks and being paraded out to do ballet displays .
Instructions on not getting dirty and behaving myself intensified .

I particularly dreaded Sundays :
This meant relative visiting us or going out to relatives for afternoon tea .

My cousins had wonderful toys like train sets and boats .
I asked for them and my mother didn't consider them to be acceptable.
I once heard her telling my grandma that she thought that I wasn't normal .

I think that I preferred visiting as the house didn't have to be cleaned from top to bottom and I could play with "male" toys .

Periods came early and I dreaded them .
I looked like a eight year old -flat chested with no hips and yet I had periods aged 11 .

I didn't really fill out until I was 15 and then , suddenly - I wanted to wear make up and dresses !