By Missy Crystal
All Dolled Up - Part V
Jamie wants his mother to buy him a doll for a birthday present. She does and a journey of discovery begins for both of them.
I managed to keep my curiosity in check and stayed downstairs for about fifteen minutes, to give Jamie time to make his selection. When I finally went into his room, he was sitting on the floor with his doll. He looked up when I came in.
"Jamie, Honey," I asked casually, as if it didn't matter, "have you decided what you'd like to wear?"
His response took me by surprise.
"My dress, Mommy, please."
"Which dress?" I asked puzzled.
I was hoping it would be one of his new ones or maybe one of the skirts. They were the same as a dress from the waist down and, since Jamie never had a skirt before, he might not know the difference.
"My dress, Mommy," he repeated.
"They're all your dresses, Sweetie," I pointed out.
"No, the one Jamie wears too."
"You mean Jamie, your doll?"
"Your party dress?"
He nodded his head.
"Wouldn't you like to wear one of these," I suggested, knowing that I was not following Dr. Mitchell's instructions by expressing my preference, but then it wasn't between boy's and girl's clothes, just one type of girl's clothes and another.
He shook his head.
At this point, I had no choice. If I was any more explicit, it would definitely affect the outcome of the experiment.
"Okay, Sweetie," I agreed, getting the dress from his closet and finding the rest of the items that he wore with it. "Get yourself undressed."
After putting Jamie into his party dress, I left him to play.
"Have fun, Honey," I remarked pleasantly, not wanting to show my disappointment that the experiment had failed.
The best laid plans of psychiatrists and mothers, I thought to myself as I went downstairs, but why? It seemed so logical. Give Jamie a choice between pretty girl's clothes and his usual boy's clothes and see which he preferred. Perhaps, Ginny, the logic of a six year old was different. What were you missing? Maybe the girl's clothes didn't mean the same to him as they did to you and Dr. Mitchell. Why should they? He knew nothing about them. Most of the time he got together with his cousins, they wore jeans, tops and sneakers. Then I remembered our conversation at the mall, when I was telling him why he couldn't have a dress. Only girls wear dresses, I told him. He asked me why and I explained that girls wore different clothes than boys. He disagreed. Girls wear pants and shirts like him, he told me. Then it hit me. Ginny, it's not the clothes, it’s the doll he cares about! Debbie and Cindy are girls. When he goes to their house, they play with dolls, so having a doll, not wearing a dress, is what makes them girls. Maybe he is transgendered. He's just expressing it in a different way. Is that possible? I'd have to ask Dr. Mitchell at our next appointment. In the meantime, Ginny, is there a plan B? Do you need one?
If there is no Plan B, then there is no need for the clothes, I reasoned. I should take them back. Why are you admitting defeat so easily? Just find a way to leave the doll out of the experiment and it will work, but how? Of course! He isn't allowed to take the doll out of the house. Take him out and let him wear whatever he wants. Dr. Mitchell said you could take him out dressed as a girl. Brilliant, Ginny, if you do say so yourself. It was still early. I decided to let him have another hour to play, just to be sure he didn't suspect anything. Around five o'clock, I called up to him.
"Jamie, I didn't have a chance to go grocery shopping, Honey. Let's go out for dinner. I'm coming up in a few minutes to get you ready. Finish up whatever you're doing, then take off your dress and pick out something else to wear."
As before, I controlled my curiosity and gave him ten minutes. Then I went upstairs, anxious to see what he had picked out. Nothing. He had taken off the dress, which was on the bed with the other clothes, and was wearing the nylon panties and cammie.
"Jamie, you'll be starting school in a few weeks and children who go to school get themselves dressed. Let's practice," I encouraged him. "What would you like to wear, Honey? Anything on the bed or in your closet, you choose."
He looked at me blankly.
Well, Ginny, why would he care about what he wears? Girls are taught to appreciate fashion. Mothers are always oohing and aahing over their daughter's clothes, reinforcing how looking pretty is essential to their femininity. Jamie wasn't brought up that way. As far as he knows, one pair of pants or shirt is as good as another and the same plain white underpants go with everything. Should I start to educate him about how girls dress themselves or is that contrary to Dr. Mitchell's admonition about my influencing his choice? You know the answer, so why even ask the question. So much for Plan B. Is there are Plan C?
Let's see. Whatever plan you come up with, it has to have something to do with the doll. That's the key to his dressing in girl's clothes. What if you let him take the doll with him when you go out to dinner? No, you've already made a rule that he can't take the doll out of the house. Even if you did let him, he'd pick his party dress. Think, Ginny. Yes, that's it. Jamie wears the same thing as the doll, so if you want him to wear the clothes you bought for him, then the doll has to wear them too. All you have to do is to buy the doll matching clothes. Since you're not doing anything to influence his behavior, at least directly, the experiment should still be valid. Okay, here goes.
"Jamie, let's stop off at the toy store after dinner. I promised you a big toy and we ended up with just one dress for your doll. Wouldn't you like to have more clothes for her to wear, Honey?"
"I guess so, Mommy. What kind of clothes?" he wondered.
"We'll see what there is. I bet she'd like a skirt and top and maybe something for her legs, just like what I bought for you," I suggested.
Jamie looked at the clothes on his bed.
"Like these, Mommy?"
"Yes, Jamie. Those are for you and we can find the same things for the doll. Wouldn't you like to look like her?"
"Well, I did say that you couldn't always look like her, emphasizing 'always', but sometimes it's okay for you to dress the same, emphasizing 'sometimes'," I equivocated.
"Okay," he agreed.
"Okay, then. Let's go."
I decided to let him wear his familiar boy's clothes and gradually move into taking him out as a girl, once he become comfortable with his new wardrobe by playing dress-up with his doll. I had him change out of his panties, put on his briefs, a pair of shorts and exchanged the cammie for a t-shirt. White socks and his old sneakers, a quick session with the comb, and we were ready.
Dinner was pizza and then we were off to the toy store. By now, I knew how to navigate to the doll's section and find the right clothing. Studying the display, I was surprised by the wide variety of styles, colors and materials. Anything that you could find in a regular department store was there. Looking at the price tags, you could probably buy the same things for real in a department store, but I wasn't bargain hunting. If this helped Jamie to express his feminine nature, if he had one, it was worth it.
"Jamie, they're lots of pretty things here for your doll. What do you think she'd like?" I asked him, hoping that he would express his own preference.
"I don't know, Mommy. A dress?"
"Yes, we can buy her another dress, but she already has two of them. How about buying her a skirt and some tops? Those are fun to wear. And tights would look nice on her. Shall I pick out a few things and you can decide what you want to keep after we get them home," I offered as a compromise.
"I guess so," Jamie conceded.
I sorted through the clothes, trying to find things that were similar to what I had bought Jamie. I found a jumper, a pleated skirt, a kilt and an A-line dress, two blouses, a pullover top and an assortment of tights and knee socks. The colors and materials were different, but he had accepted my old tank top as the counterpart for the doll's dress we bought last time, so I hoped he wouldn't be too fussy about these. When I had finished making my selection, I turned to him and asked if there was anything else he saw that he would like me to buy. He had no additions to make. I carried the collection to the checkout counter. The woman gave me a curious look as she began to scan them.
"We're having a birthday party for my daughter and her girlfriends are all binging over their dolls. I'm going to give the clothes as prizes for the games," I explained creatively.
The woman gave me a small smile and continued to scan the items. When she had totaled it up, I handed her my credit card, she rang it through, put the clothes in a plastic bag and we left.
By the time we got home, it was past Jamie's bedtime. I told him that I would get all of the clothes ready and leave them in his room, so he could play with them in the morning. Jamie was tired and didn't protest. We went though his usual nighttime routine. I read him and the doll a story and tiptoed out as he nodded off. I went downstairs, found a large plastic storage container and put all of the clothes in it. I took the box upstairs and left it on the floor of Jamie's room. I went into my room, got myself ready for bed and read until I was sleepy. I turned out the light and lay in the dark, wondering if Plan C would work. You'll know in the morning, Ginny.
My alarm went off at seven thirty. I got up, put on a robe and went into Jamie's room. He was still asleep, so I went downstairs for my morning cup of tea. Jim was a coffee drinker and I would join him to be sociable, but I preferred tea. He would have two cups while I was only half way through mine. He thought I didn't like hot beverages, so I was waiting for it to cool, but I was stalling and after he left, I would pour it out. The only time I couldn't get away with my little trick was if we went out for breakfast. Luckily, or perhaps unfortunately in retrospect, considering how little time we had together, we didn't go out for breakfast often, as we had more intimate morning activities to occupy ourselves. I missed him.
C'mon, Ginny, no time for that, I scolded myself. Jamie needs you. He'll be up soon. Get yourself together. I went back upstairs and got dressed. I looked in on him again and I could see that he was beginning to wake up. I debated whether I should offer to pick out an outfit for the doll and him or give him time to do it himself. I decided to wait. I went back downstairs. After watching the clock on the microwave advance through fifteen minutes, Jamie appeared. He had obediently left the doll on the stairs and was still in his pajamas. Glancing into the hallway, I saw that the doll was still wearing her party dress from last night. I gave Jamie breakfast and then sent him upstairs. Showtime, or maybe not, be patient.
About ten minutes later, Jamie came back downstairs. He had the doll and he also had something in his hand. He was holding a pair of white tights I bought for him and a pair I bought for the doll. I noticed that he had put on the nylon panties and cammie he wore with his dresses.
"You want me to help you, Honey?"
"Yes, please, Mommy. I don't know how."
"Do you want me to dress your doll or you first?"
"You mean Jamie, you doll?"
"Yes, please," he corrected himself.
"Can I have her, please?"
He handed the doll to me and I put her on the table. He had already taken off her party dress and she had on just her panties and white socks. I left on the panties and removed her socks. I looked down and saw that Jamie was barefoot.
"The way to put on tights," I explained, "is to bunch up one leg, like this."
I demonstrated how to use your fingers to gather the material until it was all scrunched up with just the foot sticking out.
"First you do one side and then you put your foot in and unroll it a little bit," I showed him, pulling the fabric up to below the doll's knee. "Then you do the same thing to the other leg. Once you have both legs in, you pull them up gently, until the waist band of the panty part is around your hips. Then you run your hands up the legs to smooth them until the bottom part of the panty is in place." I avoided using the word crotch. "See, the tights cover her legs and the panty part holds them up. Do you want to try to try putting on your tights?"
Jamie looked at the tights and then at me. He shook his head.
"No, Mommy, you do it, please."
"Sit in the chair, Honey, and stick out your right foot," I instructed him, bunching up the right leg of the tights the same way I had when I was dressing the doll. "Point you toe." I slipped his toe into the foot and worked the material up a little way. "Do you like the way it feels, Jamie."
He nodded and I didn't correct him. It was too special a moment, helping him to be a girl for the first time. When I dressed him up before, he was my son. Now he was my daughter. This wasn't a costume to match what his was doll was wearing, they were his clothes. The ones he would wear for the rest of his life. Ginny? They're tights. Male dancers wear tights. So do men on the flying trapeze, don't they? And wasn't there once something about a football player who wore pantyhose to keep his legs warm? You and Karen giggled when you heard about it. Boys in pantyhose seemed so silly, little did you know. So Jamie hasn't committed himself to being transgendered. Not yet, anyway. This was just an experiment and it took three tries before you got it right. Maybe you got it right, I corrected myself. Wait to see what Dr. Mitchell thinks, before you sign him up for ballet class. I laughed to myself. He could wear the tights either way, but I'd have to hold off on the tutu.
Once Jamie had on his tights, he went back upstairs. I wondered whether he would understand that they were underwear and pick out something to wear over them, one of his dresses, a skirt, or maybe his own clothes. Dr. Mitchell told me not to say anything, if his inexperience resulted in him mixing boy's and girl's clothes. Now I was really curious, but I let him have time to make his own choice. After about fifteen minutes, he came downstairs in the jumper and he had put the same thing on the doll. The doll had on her black shoes and he was wearing his Mary Jane's. What was missing was a top. He wore the jumper like a dress, with just his camisole underneath and the doll had nothing on under it.
"Can you help me, Mommy, please," he asked, turning around to have me pull up the zipper, the way I did when he was putting on his party dress.
I zipped up the back and fastened the hook at the top. The doll's dress just pulled over her head. I thought about suggesting that he find a blouse to put on, but I refrained from coaching him. I also resisted complimenting him on how nice he looked. Jamie went back upstairs to play. I wondered if he would change the doll into some of the other outfits, but he spent the rest of the day dressed as he was and so did the doll. Well, it was a start. Let's see what tomorrow brings, Ginny. Maybe he just needed to get it out of his system and now that he has done it, he will be himself again. Unless, of course, his self was a girl in a boy's body, the way Karen explained being transgendered.
I puttered around the house for the rest of the day. I was anxious to try taking Jamie out dressed as a girl, but I decided to wait until I was sure he accepted his new wardrobe as everyday clothes, not just what he wore to play with his doll. I also wanted to give him some time to learn about coordinating his outfits, so he wouldn't be embarrassed by people staring. That evening we watched TV together. He had forgotten about the way to sit in a dress, so I reinstructed him about acting ladylike. To my surprise, he was very cooperative. Would a boy care? Was this more evidence of his being transgendered or was he just a good kid who wanted to please his mother?
When it was bedtime, I helped him to get undressed, since he couldn't manage the zipper on the back of his jumper. As I was exchanging his panties for briefs, I had a thought that I should have bought him a nightgown, something really frilly and lacy, so that he could continue to feel feminine, even at bedtime. Did little girls even wear nightgowns to sleep in anymore? I didn't when I was growing up and neither did Karen. Either extra large t-shirts or regular sized ones with boxers in the summer and flannel PJ's in the winter were more practical. Maybe just a pair of pink nylon pajamas for him would be a nice transition. He could keep his panties on. For some reason, the image of Jamie in a baby doll nightie with little ruffled panties peeking out from under the short top struck me. Ginny, really!
After breakfast the next morning, I gave Jamie the opportunity to select his own clothes again. I wondered if he was interested in trying different outfits or his choices were just random. If he took whatever he happened to pick up first? Since he didn't know what went with what, I didn't see how it could be otherwise. That would explain why he didn't pick out a blouse or top to wear with his jumper yesterday. Even so, that was only the first day, Ginny. He could have ignored all of his new clothes and gone back to the party dress, like he did with Plan A. I busied myself around the kitchen, so it wouldn’t' seem like I was too interested in what he was wearing. Finally he appeared. I pretended not to notice.
"Mommy?" he asked to get my attention.
"Oh, hi, Sweetie."
A casual look revealed he was still in his pajamas.
"Do you want to play with Jamie?" he asked me.
"Your mean Jamie you doll?"
He nodded his head.
This was a development I hadn't anticipated. The last time I asked, he didn't want to share her. Either he was becoming more sociable in whatever he played with the doll or he was tacitly admitting he needed my help with her new clothes. There was only one way to find out.
"Sure, Honey. Let's go upstairs."
We went up to his bedroom. All of the doll's outfits were still in the plastic box, except for the tights and jumper, which she was still wearing. I looked through the selection and picked out a few things.
"Let's see. Jamie has never worn a skirt before. I think she'd like this one. I held out the blue, yellow, green and red plaid kilt. She needs something to cover her on top. I found a yellow long sleeved blouse with a peter pan collar. How about this?" I asked rhetorically. "She's got her panties on already. Just some knee socks, I think." I found a pair of dark blue ones. "There. Do you want me to help you get her dressed?"
I explained what I was doing as I fastened the kilt around her waist, pulled on the knee socks and slipped on the blouse, fastening the buttons. When she was all dressed, I held her out to Jamie. He took her and cradled her in the crook of his arm, the way I had shown him to hold a baby.
"What would you like to wear, Jamie?" I asked neutrally.
"Her clothes, Mommy."
"You mean the same thing that Jamie is wearing, a skirt and blouse?"
Well, he did make the choice. Finding the clothes and helping him into them wasn't really getting involved. Okay, it was, but in for a penny in for a pound. Oh, for goodness sake, Ginny. Get over that expression. It's just an excuse to do what you want and you know it. I found the more or less matching items I had bought for Jamie and helped him get dressed. With his Irish heritage, he really looked cute. Any little girl who saw him would be jealous. I was glad that I hadn't cut his hair yet. I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation about taking him out as my daughter in that outfit. Except that it was still summer and he was dressed for fall. The little girl sweltering in long sleeves, knee socks and a wool skirt would certainly draw attention. You forgot all about the seasonal wardrobe you bought him. How could you take him out in the summer dressed like that?
"Go ahead and play, Sweetie. Mommy's got some things she has to do. Maybe later we can go out," I suggested optimistically. Assuming Mommy can solve your wardrobe problem, I thought to myself.
Okay, Ginny, he can't wear those clothes now. Either you have to buy him something appropriate for summer or give up on taking him out as a girl. Claire was really sweet. You could take him back to the mall. That would work, but didn't Dr. Mitchell tell you not to take him shopping, so he wouldn't associate girl's clothes with having fun. Yes, but you won't be shopping for him as a girl. He'll be dressed as a boy. It won't be any different than the other times you've gone shopping with him. He doesn't need to get involved in choosing the clothes and now you know his size, so he doesn't have to try the them on in the store. Besides, if you don't buy him some summer outfits, then he has to stay home when he's dressed as a girl, which is contrary to Dr. Mitchell's recommendation that he do whatever he would do normally, regardless of what he was wearing.
"Jamie, you can play for a while, then I have to change you into your, ummm, your other clothes and we can go to the mall."
An hour later, I interrupted his playing. I still had no idea what it was he did with his doll without any accessories. I changed him into his shorts and a t-shirt, socks and sneakers. We drove to the mall and went into the department store. I looked around and saw Claire sorting through a rack of dresses. I walked over to her.
She turned around.
"Oh, hi, Mrs. McCarthy."
She remembered my name, but then how many mothers shop in the Girls 4-6X Department for their sons and lie to her about it. I certainly was memorable.
"Do you have some returns?"
Then she recognized Jamie.
"Hi, Jamie" she greeted him.
She remembered his name too, but then to how many boys has she sold a party dress?
"Say hi to Claire, Jamie."
"No, no returns. That seems to have worked out. Actually, that is the problem in a way. Everything I bought was for fall and Jamie has nothing to wear now. Do you have any summer clothes left?"
"Oh, sure, Mrs. McCarthy. We moved them all to the clearance area at the back of the department." She pointed. We haven't advertised our end of summer sale yet, that won't be until mid-August, so there's still a pretty good selection of styles and sizes. Did you want me to find some things for Jamie?"
"Yes, please. You have good taste. I'm sure whatever you pick out will do nicely. I'm going to take Jamie for some ice cream. It's better if we're not around. It's complicated. Anyway, here's my credit card." I handed it to her. "I'll be back in about fifteen minutes. Oh, and if you don't mind, he," I rolled my eyes, "we need some cotton undies too. Thanks, you're a doll." I winced at the word 'doll," which got a curious look from Claire. "It's complicated," I reiterated.
Jamie and I had our usual ice cream and returned to find Claire at the sales counter with a number of items laid out.
"Do you want me to show you what I picked out?"
I shook my head.
"I'm sure it's fine."
"I didn't want to ring it up without your approval. Are you sure?"
"Okay, I'll ring it on my account again. Just in case," she said with a smile.
"Claire, it's not necessary. You deserve your commission. I'm sure we'll keep the clothes, really."
"That's very nice of you Mrs. McCarthy, but, well, I want to do this for Jamie. I hope everything works out for her."
I was impressed both with Claire's empathy and her willingness to recognize Jamie as a girl.
"Thank you again, Claire. I don't know what I would do without you."
"No problem, Mrs. McCarthy."
She smiled as she finished scanning the tickets and ran the receipt. I signed it while she folded the clothes with tissue paper and put them in the bag. It looked to be an assortment of dresses, skirts and tops, with a couple of packages of assorted pastel cotton panties and matching tank tops. I was impressed that she remembered I wanted the clothes to be very girly. When she had everything packed, she handed me the two big bags. I thanked her again, had Jamie say thank you to her and we went back to the car.
Jamie sat quietly as we drove home.
Once we were in the house, I sent Jamie upstairs to play while I looked through what Claire had picked out for him or her. I suppose I should start referring to him as a girl. To her as a girl? This was confusing, since there were times when he was still a boy or at least he still wore boy's clothes. Returning to the bags, I took out a summer dress. It was white eyelet, knee length and sleeveless, with a square neckline that was lower in back and a full skirt with a sash that tied in back to gather in the waist. It would look adorable with a pair of dressy ankle socks and strappy little sandals. Doh, Ginny. You didn't buy any summer footwear, so Jamie still can't go out in any of his new outfits yet. Next was a pretty pink and yellow floral print sundress. No wait. The bottom was actually culottes. It was kind of a romper. A light pink skort, a flouncy aqua miniskirt and three coordinating cotton short sleeved cotton jerseys completed the ensemble. Jamie was going to love his new outfits. Any little girl would. But he wasn't any little girl. There was only one way to know for sure.
"Jamie, Honey, can you come down here for a minute," I called up to him.
I waited a couple of minutes.
"Jamie, now please."
I heard him starting down the stairs. When he arrived, he had his doll with him. She still was wearing the outfit I dressed her in this morning. Jamie had managed to put on the matching blouse. Except for buttoning the opposite way, which apparently did not deter him, it was the same as his shirts. I could see the outline of his camisole under the blouse. He also had on the knee socks and his nylon panties, but his skirt was missing. Forgetting about why I had called him down, I questioned him about his incomplete attire.
"Jamie, what happened to your skirt, Honey?"
"It fell off."
Unlike regular skirts, kilts had a complicated wrap around fastening system that took some time to master.
"Do you want me to help you with it?"
He turned to start back upstairs.
"Wait a second, Honey. I wanted to show you your new clothes."
I started to hold up the white eyelet dress, but he wasn't interested. Okay, Ginny, Plan C was not going well either. What was the problem? Of course, the stupid doll again. I had to buy her matching clothes before he would wear what I bought for him. Now I needed to add more outfits to her wardrobe. Enough is enough. I'm his mother and it is up to me to decide how Jamie dresses, not his doll.
"Jamie, I will help you with your kilt and then you can play for a while, but remember, I told you, sometimes you can wear what your doll wears, but not always. I want to go to the park with you later and you need to choose something from what I bought today. Okay?"
"Okay," he agreed.
I followed him upstairs and found the kilt on his bed. I picked it up and wrapped it around him.
"See Honey, first you bring this side across, like this, with this hand and then fasten it," I showed him. "There's a button hole here and a button on the inside of the waist here. Now it will stay up. Then you bring the other side across and button it. See the other button and button hole. Once you have it on, you buckle the straps that keep it closed."
Jamie happily picked up his doll. I left him and went downstairs to decide what I would put on him when we went out. Since we were going to the park, the skort was the most practical, particularly because he could wear his sneakers with it. I opened a package of the cotton panties and took out a pink pair. The white top would look nice with the skort. He could wear his usual white socks. No, don't mix his boy's clothes with his girl's clothes. Don't be silly, Ginny. How would he know the difference in socks? If you've seen one pair, you've seen them all. Hold on. There were some socks in the load of laundry that got tinted pink. Genius. You already told him pink underwear was for girls. Pink socks too. It was about two o'clock. I'd give him another half hour and then have him change into what I picked out.
At two thirty, I took the outfit and went upstairs.
"Jamie, it's time for you to change, so we can go to the park. See this, it's called a skort. That's because it’s a combination of a shorts and a skirt. See."
I showed him how the front panel covered over the shorts, so it looked like a skirt from the front, but you could see the shorts from the back.
"It kind of looks like one of the skirts we bought for your doll," I encouraged him. "We can put it on her when you come home. She has a white pullover top like this one too."
I held up the top for him to look at.
"Let's get you undressed. I’ll help you with your kilt. Take off the knee socks and your panties too. I have different panties and socks for you to wear."
I showed him the pink cotton panties and tinted pink socks. Once he had them on, I had him step into the skort. It had an elasticized waist, so it was easy to pull on. The top went on the same as the t-shirts with which he was familiar. I gave his hair a brushing to fluff it up and we were ready. Almost ready. I remembered that when I bought him the first set of clothes, I had picked out some accessories to go with them. They were still in the bag. I looked though them and found the gold heart locket on a thin chain and two butterfly clips for his hair. I couldn't resist, even though Dr. Mitchell had cautioned me against rewarding him for being a girl.
"Jamie, Honey, I bought you this locket. It will look really pretty on you. So will these hair clips."
I opened the clasp, reached around his neck and fastened it, then used the clips to pull the hair back next to each ear. There was no doubt that anyone looking at him would think he was a natural girl. He even had me convinced and I was his mother. Ginny, if you're going to take him out dressed like a girl, you have to start referring to him as a girl, to her as a girl. Do little girls carry pocketbooks? No, not if they're going to the playground. He, she doesn't have one of those anyway. Add it to the list with sandals.
Jamie was very patient while I got him dressed. I expected him to complain, but he accepted the unfamiliar clothes without a fuss. When I finished, I took him into my room to see himself in the full length door mirror. He turned around twice and smiled, which I took as a sign of his approval. Congratulations, Ginny, Plan C was finally working.
I went to the kitchen and put a juice pack and some cookies in a plastic bag, in case he wanted a snack while we were at the park. When he went to get in the car, I showed him how to slid in sideways and then swing his legs in. I didn't matter with the skort, but there's no harm in learning good habits. At the park, I had him do the reverse when he got out of the car. We went over to the play area. I sent him off while I sat on one of the benches in the shade of a tree and kept an eye on him. About ten minutes later, I saw another child come over to him. It was a girl, about his age. I could see her talking to him and then they went over to the slide. They both climbed up and went down, then up and down a few more times. After the slide, they went over to the climbing structure. It looked like he was having a good time playing with her. I hadn't anticipated Jamie finding a playmate and I was concerned that he might reveal that he was a boy, but so far, so good it seemed.
I had been so focused on Jamie that I hadn't noticed the woman approach.
"Hi, I'm Helen Nelson. Merry, Meredith's, my daughter."
She pointed to the little girl playing with Jamie.
"Is that your daughter?"
I wasn't prepared for her question and hesitated. She mistook my silence for a denial.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I just thought, since I didn't see any other adults around, that you. I apologize for disturbing you. "
"What, no, excuse me, umm, yes, Jamie is my, umm, daughter," I babbled." I wasn't, umm, you caught me by surprise," which was an understatement. "I'm Ginny. You're, umm, Ellen?"
"Helen," she corrected me.
"It's nice to meet you Helen."
"Our girls seem to be getting along nicely. How old is Jamie?"
Careful Ginny, I warned myself. If you're going to be taking him out as a girl, you have to get it right.
"Oh, Merry will be six at the end of August. What grade is she in?"
"He," damn, "rr, her," nice recovery, "birthday's in July. I held her," good, "back a year, so she," you're improving," wouldn't be the youngest in her class. She's," you're on a roll, "just starting kindergarten."
"Great mind's think alike. Merry will be starting kindergarten in the fall too. May I sit down?"
"What school will Jamie be going to?" Helen continued.
"Merry too. That's so nice. We just moved here. My husband was transferred and she hasn't made any friends yet. Would you believe it, the few neighborhood children who are her age are all boys. Sugar and spice and snips and snails, if you know what I mean."
I smiled knowingly, disguising the fact that my puppy dog's tail, to complete the nursery rhyme, was playing quite well with her daughter.
Helen was very chatty and I would have enjoyed her company if it wasn't for most of the conversation being about her daughter, a subject which I assume she thought would be an equally interesting topic for me. Instead I had to struggle to keep referring to Jamie in the correct gender and make up stories about her girlhood, substituting my own experiences growing up. Finally, I looked at my watch, pretended to have an appointment and called to Jamie, motioning for him to return.
I watched as Merry took Jamie's hand and the two little girls, or so it appeared, skipped over. I didn't know Jamie knew how to skip. Maybe it was something he learned when he played with his cousins. I never really paid attention to what they did together. Maybe I should have. Jamie and Merry arrived. Up close, she was very pretty, about Jamie's height, with big brown eyes and brunette hair done up in two long pigtails that went halfway down her back. When they arrived, she let go of Jamie's hand and went over to her mother.
"Oh, Mommy, can Jamie come to our house?" Merry asked enthusiastically. "I can teach her how to play cat's cradle. I can do up to this many turns," she turned to me and announced proudly, holding up five fingers.
Helen looked at me.
"Can she, Ginny? If you have something to do, I can drop Jamie off later. If they're both in the same school, we must not live too far away from each other. Oh, I suppose you don't know anything about us, do you. No, I guess you're right," she agreed with herself, "it's not a good idea to let your daughter go off with a stranger. I know, maybe when you're done you could stop by our house. Let me give you our address and telephone number."
Before I could say anything, she reached into her purse, took out a large appointment book which had a pen and notepad, wrote the information down and handed it to me. I was waiting for her to ask me for my address and telephone number, which I was reluctant to give her. Since I did not offer to reciprocate, she was polite enough not to ask for it.
"Thank you, Helen. It's not that I'm concerned, but we do have other plans for today. I'll give you a call and the girls can get together another time."
"Great, Ginny, have a nice day."
"You too. Say goodbye to Merry, Jamie."
"Bye," Merry waved.
Once we were safely in the car, I asked Jamie how he liked playing with Merry.
"Okay, Mommy. She's nice."
"What did you two do?"
"I don't know. Just played. On the swings and slide and stuff."
"What did you two talk about?"
"You and she didn't talk to each other while you were playing?"
"No, not talk. I don't know. Stuff."
I decided not to press him. If there was something he wanted to tell me, he would. At least it didn't seem that he had revealed himself, probably because they were so active. I wondered how he would do if they did something more feminine. He had some experience with his cousins. They knew he wasn't a girl, so they made allowances, I would think. Would Merry recognize the difference? It didn't matter, because I couldn't take the chance.
Then it struck me. Oh my God! He and Merry would be in school together. I was pretty sure there was only one kindergarten class at Oak Hill. What would happen on the first day of school when Merry's new girlfriend showed up as a boy? Now you've done it, Ginny. Dr. Mitchell warned you to be careful, not to take Jamie out where he might be recognized. What were you thinking? Well, he never made friends with anyone in the park before, I defended myself. Then again, he wasn't a girl. Maybe boys were less social. Well, add one more thing to talk about with Dr. Mitchell.
When we got home, I sent Jamie up to his room to play. I was angry with myself for the predicament I had caused. The more I thought about it, the more upset I became. I could have said no to the doll and none of this would have happened. Or would it? According to Dr. Mitchell, it just would have postponed the inevitable, if Jamie was transgendered. He wouldn't be, though, if I hadn't bought him the doll. No, he would be, you just wouldn't know he was. If you didn't know he was and he didn't act like he was, because he didn't have the doll, then he wouldn't be, would he? I was going around in circles. I needed some help. I should call Karen. No, not Karen. She knows we are seeing Dr. Mitchell and she would defer to her, I was sure of it, probably with a lecture on professional responsibility to boot. I looked at the clock on the microwave. It was four forty. I found Dr. Mitchell's number and I called it, hoping she'd still be in her office.
"Dr. Mitchell's office."
"Yes, this is Kelly. Who's this?"
"It's Virginia McCarthy, Kelly."
"Oh, Ms. McCarthy, I'm sorry I didn't recognize your voice. Between us girls," she gave a little chuckle, "most of Dr. Mitchell's clients disguise their voice to sound female. It's very confusing to sort out who I'm talking to most of the time. What can I do for you?"
"Is Dr. Mitchell available, Kelly?"
"She's still with a patient. Usually, she has her fifteen minute privacy window, but, Samantha is the last appointment for today, so she won't be done until five. Do you want her to call you when she's finished?"
"Yes, please, Kelly."
"Is it about your appointment, Mrs. McCarthy. If there's a problem, I can take care of that for you."
"No thank you, Kelly. I need to talk to Dr. Mitchell about something that's come up. I'd just feel better if I could get some reassurance."
"No problem, Mrs. McCarthy. Can Dr. Mitchell reach you at home?"
"Okay, maybe in about fifteen minutes. I'll give her the message."
"Your welcome, Mrs. McCarthy. Bye."
I hang up the phone and started getting dinner ready, while I waited for Dr. Mitchell to call back. I was anxious to talk to her and I didn't want to start anything elaborate that might distract me during our conversation. There were a few slices of cheese pizza in the freezer which I could put in the oven for Jamie. I wasn't hungry. I took them out, put them on a cookie sheet and turned on the oven. While I was waiting for the oven to preheat, I set the table and cut up some lettuce and a few other vegetables I found in the crisper drawer to make a salad. The preparations distracted me enough so that when the telephone rang I was startled. I recovered quickly and grabbed the receiver.
"Ginny, hi, it's Jenny Mitchell. Is there a problem?"
"Thank you for returning my call, Dr. Mitchell, Jenny." I was going to be cool, calm and collected. "I'm sorry to bother you. It's just, well, something happened today that, well, that, I …" so much for cool, calm and collected. "I think I made a mistake," I blurted out, "I, I tried to be careful, but, well, I, I should have, I didn't mean too … I don't know, this is all so difficult. I, I, maybe I wasn't very good at raising Jamie as a boy, but I'm awful at raising him as a girl."
"Ginny," Dr. Mitchell finally interrupted my ranting, "calm down. You're not bothering me. That's why I'm here, to help you. You don't have to do this by yourself and you might as well get used to the reality that it's not going to be easy, even with my help. Now tell me what happened that has you so upset. Start from the beginning and go slowly. Okay?"
"Okay. We went to the park. Jamie was dressed as a girl. Not femmy or anything, just a skort, plain top, sneakers and sox. He met another little girl. Well, she thought he was a girl too. They played nicely together. Her mother introduced herself to me. Dr. Mitchell, she, the little girl Jamie made friends with, her name is Merry, Meredith, she's going to be in his kindergarten class at school. Jamie's been to the park dozens of times. He plays with the other children, but he's never made a friend before. Do you see the problem?"
"First of all, Ginny, you're making an assumption that is not true."
"I don't understand, Dr. Mitchell, Jenny. What is it that isn't true?"
"You're assuming that Jamie will start school as a boy. That is one option. The other option is for him to start school as a girl."
"You mean the school would let a boy come to class dressed as a girl?"
"No, not unless it was Halloween, but, with a clinical diagnosis from me backed up by state and federal laws requiring children with disabilities to be educated in the least restrictive environment, the school authorities can be persuaded to accommodate a transgendered student."
"Jamie can go to school as a girl?" I asked incredulously.
"That's one option. There are others. We can discuss them on Monday. I was planning on spending most of the session with Jamie, but now we need time to deal with school. You've put him in the daycare center before, haven't you?"
"Good. Then check him into the center when you arrive. You can leave him while you and I talk about his going to shcool. Afterwards, you can get him and bring him here to meet with me for however much time is left. I don't want to leave open something that has you this anxious and I can work with Jamie later, rather than sooner.
"Thank you so much, Doctor, I mean Jenny. I am relieved."
"Good. I'll see you on Monday."
"Yes. Oh, Jenny?"
"How should I dress Jamie?"
"You mean should he come to the session as a boy or a girl?"
"I doesn't matter to me, Ginny. To reverse an old saying, clothes don't make the girl. However, since you previously brought him to daycare as a boy, it might be confusing if his twin sister showed up."
"Oh, right. I hadn't thought about that."
"Any other questions?"
The rest of the week went by quickly. Jamie continued to dress the same as his doll with my help, except when we went out. I decided not to take any more chances. As long as he didn't have the doll with him, Jamie was not interested in what he wore.
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