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Boys Will Be Boys

(If Given Half a Chance)

When my daughter, Katie, was in the fifth grade, her grammar school conducted a week-long series of tests inspired by the White House to promote physical fitness for schoolchildren.  Children who completed the tests with passing marks—the standards for passing were not high—received a certificate from the President.  The kids ran, jumped, and stretched, and performed sit-ups and pull-ups.  Katie finished second overall—not second among all the girls in the school but second among all the girls and the boys.  She finished first in pull-ups, doing 14 with perfect form and beating the runner-up, a boy, by four.  I was happy with her performance but flabbergasted as well.  How could a girl, even if she was a McGrath, beat all the boys in the school in pull-ups and all the boys, save one, overall?

Now I must confess that Katie was no stranger to pull-ups.  She not only had taken a gymnastics class for several years but had worked on a high bar in our garage.  At home, under ideal conditions and with her hands properly chalked, she had done 16 strict pull-ups—not bad for a grammar-school girl.  Twenty pull-ups in the Marine Corps earns a Marine maximum points on the physical-fitness test.  Nor was Katie a stranger to running.  She had been a high-scoring forward on various soccer teams since she was five years old.  She was a natural athlete and...

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