The Life of a Tomboy in Buenos Aires

La vida Argentina isn’t always easy for my oldest daughter, who loves sports and hates short shorts. Examples of the challenges she faces include the following:

  1. At school, when she befriended her only American classmate, who happened to be a boy, everyone relentlessly teased them about being in love (this is in 3rd grade last year). In Zoe’s class, at least, the girls and boys do not intermix AT ALL socially — even at recess.
  2. Common recess games for girls include one girl pretending to be a boy and the rest trying to catch her and kiss her. Another is to practice their “model walk.” Not surprisingly, Zoe does not find these sorts of activities very engaging.
  3. In computer lab, the girls all try to play an online game where you have to kiss your boyfriend as many times as possible while your father’s head is turned, without getting caught. (Again, 3rd grade last year…my God it starts early.)
  4. We visited the pediatrician (male) last Friday for the girls to complete their physicals so they may participate in PE at school. Zoe did a typical kid slouch at one point during the exam, which led the pediatrician to explain that the only way to cure her poor posture was to enroll Zoe in some sort of modeling class because “when women are around other women, their competitive instincts will kick in and they will throw their shoulders back and stand up straight.” (Yes, I found this solution rather offensive.) I decided to translate this little gem of advice for Zoe after our visit so that she wouldn’t freak out on the spot. (Of course, now I love to tell her that if she doesn’t stand up straight, I will have to enroll her in modeling class, post haste!)
  5. Girls DO NOT play soccer here. It’s a bummer, because Zoe loves soccer. This holds true even at recess, where she can’t play fútbol because a) girls don’t do that; and, b) she would be relentlessly teased about being in love with all of the boys
  6. There is little time for after school sports due to the school schedule, nor are sporting programs horribly common for girls.
  7. She has to wear a pleated skirt to school and for sports. She has adapted, but boy she hated them at first! (She does look adorable though.)

4 Responses to “The Life of a Tomboy in Buenos Aires”

  1. meg

    that is such a bummer about girls not playing soccer. we are the family headed there this summer with 4 kids (2g/2b) and the girls are as athletic (if not more) than the boys! how do you survive? what sports do the girls participate in? ugh! this is not welcome news.
    are there neighborhood rec centers with sports teams my kids can sign up for?

  2. Michele

    Hi Meg! At my daughter’s school, girls 2nd grade and up play field hockey once a week during field day at the elementary school level. I don’t know if they play more often in high school. There are two social clubs that have been recommended to me: Club de Amigos and Club de Ciudades, which have childrens’ sports programs, but not necessarily organized team leagues like we are used to in the United States. Although, having said that, I belive that Club de Ciudades may have a girls softball team.

    Part of the reason we have opted for our new school schedule (the half day of Spanish school and half day of home school) is to have more time for sports. We are going to use this opportunity to sign up the girls for individual lesson types of activities, such as tennis and horseback riding, while we are here because that’s something we probably wouldn’t have time for at home with all of the soccer, baseball, and swimming.

    I also think my older daughter’s class happens to be particularly girly girl. My brother worked last year as an English teacher at a different grade school, and he saw more intermixing of boys and girls at recess on the playground at Zoe’s age group.

    Still, even at its best, the separation of genders begins early here and Argentinian girls do not identify with sportswomen as a norm.

  3. meg

    so very interesting! i guess that is why we travel, right? so we can embrace and enjoy the differences.
    can you tell me what school your girls attend? email me if you don’t want to post it….you should have my email.
    i am still on the fence regarding the school vs. homeschool option. love your idea of tennis and horseback riding….my girls and sons play tennis so that may be a great option for them. we can kick a ball around, shoot baskets and throw a “football” around.
    tennis may be the “sport” we throw our energies into! are there courts readily available and instructores?
    (hey that last word might even be spanish!!)
    thanks so very much for all your insight.
    we are listing our house in about a week. i am a nervous wreck…given the economic turmoil the US is in. keep your fingers crossed that it sells!

  4. Michele


    There are a bunch of tennis clubs here, and I believe that the Club de Amigos and Ciudades both offer tennis lessons as well. We are still in the midst of checking out the tennis, so I don’t have much more information right now. Keep me posted on the house sale…it’s super stressful, even in the best of times! I have my fingers crossed!

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