When I Was A Boy


One of the things near to my heart is gender healing. I see gender healing as the foundation to healing the human predicament. So, when I came across this song, I wept. Dar Williams has gifted us with a beautiful song that so poignantly speaks to what happens to both boys and girls when we become conditioned out of our natural balance of both masculine and feminine qualities.

What if we had grown up believing we are both a boy and a girl? ‘Cause we are.


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.

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, “Get your shirt,”
I said “No way, it’s the last time I’m not breaking any law.”

And now I’m in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that’s tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can’t help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they’ve got implants to put in,
they’ve got implants to remove

But I am not forgetting…that I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep, it’s a secret I can keep
Except when I’m tired, ‘cept when I’m being caught off guard
And I’ve had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.

And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you”

Dar Williams’ music is the music that rocked my world in 2009.

This post is part of The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge (by blogger Gwen Bell):
Day 10 Album of the year. What’s rocking your world?

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

6 Replies to “When I Was A Boy”

  1. Oh. My. God. I’d never heard of this song, never heard of Dar Williams. Thank you so much for introducing me to both! Breath-taking lyrics. Wow.

  2. Julie- Yes. Kindreds. Fully. Love you, too.

    Emma-You are welcome. She is a delight, isn’t she! The lyrics had me from the get-go. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I love to know you’ve been here.

    Kathy- This song seems to hit a deep nerve somewhere in the soul. We know we are hiding these precious parts that are aching to come out into the light.

  3. Julie, I have read a number of your blogs and find them wonderful. They are incredibly insightful and well thought out.

    But something in this Dar Williams song is slightly off the mark…

    I read and reread the lyrics to this song as I listened to it just now. There is something about it that doesn’t sit quite right with me and I’ve finally got my finger on it. Dar Williams seems to be perpetuating the very issue she’s singing against! I’m not sure that the things she talked about are about boyhood as much as they are about childhood. But I understand that a boy child would be more inclined to fight pirates with another boy than with a girl. Still, she refers to catching fireflies and getting grass stains as “boy” activities. Girls do all of that, too. And while women don’t, neither do grown men.

    Also, she calls kidness a feminine trait, which is wholly unfair and wrong. It strikes me with sadness that she would say such a thing. As many men are kind as women, and as many women unkind as men.

    I think that in expressing sentiments like Dar’s, women are trying to gain some ground in these areas where they have felt asymmetry and imbalance in their lives. But we can’t get sure footing on new ground if we over-correct our old steps.

  4. Cait,

    First of all, I am so glad you left a comment. It’s wonderful to hear that you read my blog and enjoy it. Thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to meet you.

    After reading your comment, I went back to read Dar’s lyrics. I get what you are saying. I find it so fascinating that there are as many ways to see something as there are hearts. That’s what makes these conversations so rich, so vibrant and so necessary. Thank you for sharing how you see the lyrics here with me and with others who will come by in the future.

    Every voice is important to this conversation and I so want to have my beliefs and opinions shattered every time they get too concretized.

    It’s interesting, for me, she’s speaking to childhood as a time when we inhabit both feminine and masculine aspects/energies (what she calls being a boy or a girl). Then, we are conditioned out of these natural tendencies (for all beings), and what results are the gender stereotypes we see today, where women aren’t supposed to be physical and men aren’t supposed to be soft or kind. It’s so obvious that men are kind and can be very soft, and women are strong and physical, and can feel anger. When we aren’t living from stereotypes, and are fully integrated, we can exhibit the full range of human possibilities.

    I guess we can’t know what Dar intended. I agree with you completely that those stereotypes that say men aren’t kind and only boys can catch fireflies and get grass stains can only hurt all of us.

    Again, I love that you wrote and I will continue to listen to the lyrics to discover different ways of seeing them. I’ve always cried when I hear her sing this song. It makes me sad to think we all, men and women, become so conditioned out of our natural ways of being, ways where our souls are free to exhibit our intrinsic kindness, compassion and unconditional love for all.

    Thanks, Cait.

Comments are closed.