I grew up the oldest of three kids, my two younger siblings both boys. And for cousins, it's mostly boys as well. Which meant that at the many family get-togethers, whether it was birthdays, holidays, or just a saturday... it was usually me and the boys. The only two girls rarely came to the family events, though when the one my age was there we generally played together. Without her, it left me with a few basic options. I could sit with/listen in on the grown-ups... but they usually encouraged me to "go play." I could go do something on my own like read a book. I could entertain the youngest cousins. Or I could try and join the boys.
Now, other than my love of climbing trees, I definitely wasn't a tomboy. I'd join them in their games, but if they started wrestling or watching sports, I was done with them. Much of our time together was at Oma and Grandpa's place. They had a small house but it was built with a number ingenious hiding places and secret pathways. The best games of hide-and-seek included tucking yourself in the back of the laundry room and listening for the seeker. If they came into the laundry room, you quietly climbed over the pile of boxes under the stairs and into the furnace room, which was actually Grandpa's little den, and completely off-limits. If they followed you in there, then you snuck through the hole in the wall into the spare bedroom (when the hole wasn't covered and locked shut... it was about the size of a breadbox and a tight fit, but the best secret path!). You could make it from one end of the basement to the other without setting foot in the main room! Of course, that entire secret path was forbidden, but that just makes it more fun when you're a kid.
Another thing I remember doing there, also forbidden, was done only to prove to the boys I wasn't a scaredy-cat or a wimpy girl. The boys would regularly climb on the roof of the garage and try not to get caught. You see, the garage was not connected to the house, and was actually a very long structure because my grandfather built it with a workshop on the back. The workshop had a wood-burning potbellied stove to heat it through the winter. And that required a woodpile... stacked against the side of the garage. That wood pile was on the side away from the house, hidden away. In mid-summer and late fall, it was a high enough wood pile to easily climb it like a shaky ramp all the way until you could reach up and pull yourself onto the roof. Simple enough. Then the trick was, to see if you could sneak your way over the peak, to the big old tree on the other side and climb down without getting caught! I definitely remember climbing up, and the thrill of laying on the roof looking over to see if any adults had caught on to how quiet we were and that no one was running around the back yard. I don't remember climbing down. I think we may have gotten in trouble that time. I believe I played look-out a few times, but only remember climbing up once. I really remember the thrill of being up there though. There's something about doing something that you know you could get in trouble for... but haven't specifically been told not to do. And showing the boys that you're just as good as they are.
Hmmm, good memories. Maybe now I'll be able to sleep?