Little Green Men

A week ago Sunday, at church, I received a visual aid.

Empoyee rec and Trestle Trail 025

Green army men! Score!

Although the sermon related to the story of Ruth and focused on tiny victories of faith that lead to the “big win,” my mind immediately went to my brother and our childhood. Since there were no other siblings, we occupied our juvenile time together carving holes in snowbanks, climbing trees, drowning spiders, building forts out of furniture and cardboard boxes, etc. As my brother would have refused tea time with Barbie and anything sparkly, I turned into the tomboy and followed along in various adventures.

Note the totally cool dork tomboy haircut that I will never ever sport again.


And, so, it would only be reasonable and practical that my brother would give me an extra special gift one year for my birthday: An entire bag of green army men!

A complete army!


Actually, in my child’s mind, one that was still physically female and enjoyed playing with Barbie and her Corvette, I remember thinking, “What the heck is this?” Or something similar. At the time, I thought it self-serving to buy a bag of green plastic men intent on war rather than something I might find useful – like a new dress for Barbie. Looking back now, I chuckle and realize that I did nothing to send a message that I was strictly girlie girl (I wasn’t) or opposed to climbing a tree, hanging over the lake, with bare feet. In fact, I was more the tomboy in childhood and that propensity served me well into adulthood as I became the biker chick and someone who isn’t afraid to handle worms or kill spiders. (On the other hand, the girlie girl in me runs from centipedes and June bugs.) Even though I’m a recent newbie at camping, I find stoking a fire and walking to the outhouse more enjoyable than shopping at the mall or wearing pearls. Working up a sweat at the gym or on the bicycle is far more appealing than fussing over a perfectly ironed dress. Digging in the dirt with bare hands creates tomboy happiness that no girlie manicure is able to match.

Stomping around Green Bay this past Saturday with my brother (rather than comforting my head cold), drinking a beer and laughing at his custom jersey (a photo for another post), I realized I still follow him around, trying to climb trees and throw grenades for the sake of family and adventure.

In the end, I wouldn’t trade the birthday package of green army men for anything. I may not have appreciated the special present at the time, but today it signifies part of who I am. I may paint my toenails and wear dresses in the summer, but I am not opposed to stomping through a mud puddle and pointing a plastic rifle at life now and again.

It’s how I win the little victories and keep the tomboy close.

Dear readers, do you have a special (good or bad) birthday memory? Did you have a package of green army men?

25 responses to Little Green Men

  1. Dan Antion says:

    Great post Mary, and what a good sister to join him in those adventures. My wife bought me a bag of Green Army Men for my birthday many years ago. They might have gotten packed away when we moved, but I’ll find them some day and I’ll have my own reason to write about them. I loved playing with them and I would incorporate them into almost ever other toy and some board games. We used them for replacement tokens in Monopoly and Sorry on occasion.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Your wife is awesome. I think you need to find them and write that story. My only question is who won at Monopoly and Sorry? You or your wife?

      • Dan Antion says:

        She is awesome but the monopoly games would have been between me and my older brother. He won. I’m sure of that because he would often invoke the “unknown” rule that pushed something wildly into his favor. These days. I mainly lose at Monopoly to my daughter and I’ve been losing at Sorry to her ever since I taught her how to play. I only taught her that game because I was tired of losing Chutes & LAdders – I think I just wrote a blog post 🙂

  2. Happy Belated Birthday, Mary. I love the story of Ruth, and I love this gift of little green men. It sounds like your brother gets you. Always has.

  3. I loved my army men! Had bags of them. Always dug huge foxholes in the backyard and played for hours. Blew some up with firecrakers too! Minus that haircut of course.

  4. I missed this one. How did that happen?? I must have been sleeping. See, sleeping is bad.

    +1 on the tomboy. I remember once being out with my younger brother and someone thought he was a girl and I was a boy. Proudest day of my life.

    I think it was probably the universe preparing me for life in an all-male household.

    No little green men (my mother was a kindergarten teacher – I suspect ‘war toys’ were frowned upon) but my coolest birthday gift was a 10 in 1 Electronics Kit. Still got it, too. 🙂

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Hey, I also want to know what you built with your electronics kit. Or did you electrify your brother with it?

      • Well, the favourites were the radios (diode and transistor) and the Home Broadcasting Radio (very cool to hear your voice on the radio) but the Home Burglar Alarm came in handy for keeping him out of my room.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Ohmigosh, you were a cool science geek! (I say that in a good way) I wish I could have had a burglar alarm for my brother.

      • We also had the best chemistry set. It was a metal case that opened up and had all the little bottles of chemicals. I’m a bit amazed our parents let us loose on such things given we could have blown up the house or dissolved the furniture.

      • Oh! And Fischertechnik! Remember Fischertechnik? I loved that stuff. (I wonder what happened to it?)

        Sigh. I miss those days. Can I have childhood over again, please? (As long as I can jump from aged 12 to 21. No way am I going through the teenage years again.)

      • bikerchick57 says:

        I had to look up Fischertechnik, because I had no clue. It looks like Lego for science wizards like yourself. I’m older than you, so I was playing with lincoln logs and erector sets (didn’t build anything notable) and, of course, Barbie. You can have your childhood back any time you want. Age is in the mind of the beholder. (Or some kind of crap like that 😉

  5. joannesisco says:

    What a great post reflecting on your relationship with your brother. It sounds like you’ve managed to squeeze out the best of both the male and female worlds …. guys seem to have the whole ‘toy’ thing down pat 😉

      • bikerchick57 says:

        You’re not going to paint black stripes on it, are you? Actually, I would not choose red as that has been a jinx color for me. Probably a nice steel gray, midnight blue or classic shiny black would be more suitable. Boring, but suitable.

      • joannesisco says:

        hmmm – hadn’t thought about black lines … just how amazing it would be to have a trophy car in look-at-me yellow 🙂

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