By Missy Crystal
All Dolled Up - Part VII
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.
It had been an emotionally exhausting day. A good dinner and a hot bath before bed would do us both good. Jamie had a burger for lunch, so I wanted to make him something more nutritious. Mac and cheese was always a good, quick meal. I prepared it, made a salad, set the table and called Jamie to dinner. He came down, still dressed in his skirt and blouse, carrying the doll. He left her on the stairs and came into the kitchen.
"Sit down, Honey, dinner's ready."
He got in his chair and I served him. For desert I offered him an ice cream sundae cup, that was usually a favorite sweet, but he didn't want it, a sure sign that he was tired.
"Sweetie, why don't you go upstairs and get undressed. I'll be up in a few minutes, after I clean up the kitchen, and you can take a bath."
He turned and left, picking up his doll and going upstairs. I finished rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, gave the table and the counter a quick wipe and went upstairs. I went into the Jamie's bathroom and started the water running in the tub. Then I decided that I would let him finish the day like a girl, in a scented bath. I turned off the faucet and went into my bathroom. I found a heart shaped plastic box of bath beads someone had given me years ago and that had been gathering dust under the sink, returned to Jamie's bathroom, put three in the tub, as the package directed, and started the water. Within a few minutes, they had dissolved and there was a very pretty floral fragrance. I wondered why I had never thought of using them and realized that it was Jamie who had renewed my attention to being feminine.
While the tub was filling, I went to get Jamie. He was in his room. I had told him to get undressed, but he was sitting on the floor talking to his doll. He stopped when he saw me come in.
"Jamie, I thought I asked you to get undressed. Put the doll down and come here, please."
He placed the doll on the bed and walked over to me. I took off his blouse and skirt, sandals and socks, leaving on his panties. He would be naked when he got into the tub and when I got him out and dried him, but I didn't see any reason to get him in the habit of parading through the house without clothes. By now the fragrance from the bath had drifted into his bedroom.
"Smell that, Jamie. I made a special bath for you. The scent is from bath beads that Mommy uses, but I wanted to share them with you, because you are going to be my special little girl this week and little girls love to smell pretty. Do you like it?"
He took a sniff and nodded his head. I wondered if his approval was because he liked the smell or because of the association I made between smelling pretty and being a girl.
I walked him into the bathroom and had him take off his panties. Jamie stepped into the tub, sat down and then slid back, so that only his head and shoulders were above the fragrant bubbles floating on the surface. I took his usual bath toys out and handed them to him. I had never really paid much attention to Jamie's aquatic amusement before. Before what? Before he was a girl? He isn't a girl, seeing him in the tub made that evident, even though he behaves like one. Sometimes. What did Karen and I play with in the tub? Ariel! We had a little mermaid doll that was submersible. She had all sorts of accessories. Her little fish friend, what's-his-name, and the crab. Oh, for goodness sake Ginny. Umm, Sebastian, was the crab, and umm, Guppy, no, you've seen so many of those animated fish movies with Jamie. Whatever, it doesn't matter. I looked down and watched Jamie playing with his toys. Would there be motor boats or mermaids in the tub next week?
"Okay, Honey, time to wash up."
I took the washcloth, soaped it up and bent over to scrub his chest, arms and legs. He had his hair washed when it was cut, so he didn't need to shampoo. I handed him the washcloth to finish. Would I wash him all over, if he was a girl? I remembered a camp joke about a girl giving herself a sponge bath. 'First I wash my face and as far down as possible. Then I wash my feet and as far up as possible. Then I wash possible.' I laughed to myself. How old was I then? It was overnight camp, so I had to be older than Jamie. Did it matter? Not really. He was old enough to wash possible himself. Jamie finished and handed me the washcloth. I wrung it out and draped it over the faucet. By now the bubbles were gone.
"Stand up, let's dry you off."
I held the big, fluffy bath towel and wrapped Jamie up. I used a second towel to do his legs and feet. When he was dry, I walked him back to his. I took out a pair of pastel blue cotton panties and handed them to him. He let the bath towel drop and stepped into the panties, adjusting them around his waist. I started back to his bureau and stopped. Oh no, Ginny, you forgot to buy him a nightgown. Well, you can't blame yourself for being distracted. Didn't girls sleep in boy's pajamas? I remembered that in some of those corny old movies Mom watched the woman wore the man's pajama top. That might be sexy, but it wasn't feminine. Girls slept in big t-shirts as nightgowns. That wasn't very feminine either. Then I had an idea.
"Jamie, you know my tank top that you wore as a dress?"
He gave me blank look.
"You know, you wore it when we watched the video the other night. It has shoulder straps and its lots of different colors. Let me see if I can find it."
I looked in his closet, but it wasn't there. Then I remembered. When he first started dressing up, I hid his clothes in my room, in case he had a friend over.
"Wait a second, Jamie. I'll be right back."
I went to my room and found the tank top hanging in my closet. I took it down and brought it back to Jamie's room. It was skimpy as a dress, but just the right length to sleep in. Brilliant Ginny. Tomorrow you can take Jamie shopping for a real nightgown. Another mother daughter activity, but this will do nicely for tonight. I handed him the tank top. I expected him to question why he couldn't wear his regular pajamas, but he accepted it and put it on without a word.
"You look very pretty, Jamie," I complimented him. "There's one more thing, Honey. Girls have to take care of their hair. They brush it out every night before bed. It makes it shine and takes out the tangles. I'll do it for you tonight."
I looked around and realized that he only used a comb."
"Wait another second, Jamie. I have to get a brush from my room"
I left and returned with my round styling brush. I gently stroked his hair a few dozen times and then slipped the brush underneath the sides and back to give them a little turn under. There was no doubt that Jamie could pass for a girl.
"Okay, bedtime. Let's get you snuggled in. I picked up the doll and placed it next to him. "Which story would you two like me to read? How about The Little Mermaid, I suggested, with the ulterior motive of finding out Ariel's little fish friend's name. Hearing no objection, I got the book and began the story. It was Flounder.
After Jamie had nodded off, I returned to my room and got ready for bed. I needed to call Karen to ask her about Jamie spending the weekend with her family as a girl, but it was still too early. I put on a robe, went downstairs, made myself a cup of tea and found a news program on the television. When the show ended, I made the call.
"Hello," a man's voice answered.
"Oh, hi Dave. I hope I didn't call at a bad time. May I speak to Karen, please?"
"Ginny, hi. Karen's not here. She has a group therapy session on Monday nights, but she's usually home by ten. Do you want me to have her call you? If it's something important, you can try her cell phone. Do you have the number? Well of course you do, I'm sure," he answered his own question.
"No, it's nothing important, just girl talk." Trying not to seem concerned, I kidded him, "Oh, and I took your advice. I didn't buy Jamie a pocket protector for starting kindergarten," which was true, although what I did buy him was much more controversial.
"Well, at least someone listens to me. With a house full of females, I have no say in clothing decisions around here. I'm glad we have a boy in the family who can use my manly advice."
Little did he know, but he would soon, maybe. Or maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. I started to have second thoughts and wanted to end the call.
"Thanks, Dave. Please tell Karen that I'll be up until eleven o'clock, if she wants to chat when she gets home. Otherwise, I'll try to catch her tomorrow night. Bye.
"Night, Ginny. I'll give Karen the message."
I hung up the phone and went upstairs to read in bed while I waited. Every so often I would check the clock and about ten thirty the phone rang.
"Hi Karen," I answered, not expecting anyone else to be calling me at that hour.
"Hi, Ginny. Dave said you wanted to talk to me. How's it going?"
"Well, we're not making much progress, which is why I called you."
"Ginny, you know I can't get involved professionally. Do you want me to try to find you someone else?"
"Oh, no, no, Karen. I didn't mean it like that. Jenny, Dr. Mitchell is great. She's kind and sensitive and caring and Jamie seems to be comfortable with her, although he's only had one session so far. The difficulty we're having is that he doesn't seem to have a preference. He likes being a girl or at least dressing like one, but he doesn't not like being a boy. I paused. "Does that make any sense?"
"Yes, please go on."
Well, Jenny's, Dr. Mitchell's suggestion was … ."
"Ginny, I know who Jenny is, continue, please."
"Sorry. Well, she suggested I let him spend this week as a girl to see how he feels about it. That's where you come in. I was hoping we could come to visit this weekend."
There was a pause while Karen considered the implication.
"Jamie is spending the week as a girl and you want to bring him here?"
"I see," she replied neutrally.
"Karen, I know it's an imposition. I'll understand if you say no. Really, it's not a big deal. I just thought, well, girls play with other girls and it's, it's too dangerous for Jamie to get together with any of the girls around here, even if I knew any, which I don't, because up to know he's only played with other boys, so, well, I thought, maybe, it'd be okay with your girls. It wasn't Jenny's idea, it was mine, she just went along with it, so it's not like doctor's orders or anything."
"Ginny, if it was up to me, it wouldn't be a problem. I love Jamie and can accept him whichever his gender preference, but I have to consider how it would affect Dave and the children. Debbie and Cindy would probably think it was fun having a girl cousin to play with, but I'm not sure they're ready for a real life lesson in diversity. I think it would be more difficult for Dave to accept Jamie as a girl. He liked Jim and I think he would feel that he had to be his surrogate in opposing Jamie being feminized, at least that would be his perception of what was going on. Please understand, Ginny, I'm not saying no. I just need time to think it over and discuss it with Dave. What if I call you in a day or two? Can you wait for an answer?"
"Umm, sure, but, well, I don't, you don't, it's not necessary. I'm sorry, Karen. It was a bad idea. I’m just not thinking very clearly right now. I, I have no right to drag you and your family into this. It's not your problem. Please, forget I asked you."
"Ginny, please, calm down. It's not a problem. It's a question of timing. If Jamie is transgendered, then sooner or later he has to come out to the rest of the family. All you're asking is that it be sooner, rather than later. That may well be the psychologically healthier course, rather than to make him feel guilty and ashamed by hiding it. Give me a little time to sort things out. I promise I'll be discrete."
"Okay, Karen" I agreed reluctantly. "I'll wait to hear from you and thanks. I love you."
"You're welcome and I love you too. Goodnight, Sis."
I hung up the phone, took a tissue from the box on my nightstand and wiped away the tears that had started to form. You have to hang on, Ginny, for Jamie's sake. Things will work themselves out. You have Jenny and Karen as resources. You're very lucky. There are probably other mothers who have to deal with it on their own. Now get some sleep. I rolled over, turned off the lamp, checked that the clock radio was set for seven thirty and lay back. I tossed and turned, going over the events in my mind and trying to picture how it would be having Jamie as my daughter. Finally, I fell asleep.
I woke to the alarm clock. It was another sunny, hot day from what I could see out the window when I raised the shade. I put on a robe and checked on Jamie. He was still asleep, cuddled up with the doll. I wished he had picked out a teddy bear or at least a stuffed animal. It would have been easier to explain if he carried it around with him and they don't wear clothes. Well, I guess some of them do. Winnie the Pooh has a red sweater, if I remember correctly, but they're not identifiably boys or girls. At least regular teddy bears aren't. Not that it mattered at this point.
I went downstairs to start breakfast. This was going to be the first full day that Jamie would spend as a girl and I might as well make something special for him. I took out the mixings to make pancakes from scratch and a box of fresh blueberries to add in. The aroma must have carried upstairs, because, as I was finishing up the last batch, Jamie came into the kitchen. He must have still been sleepy, because he was holding the doll, which he was not supposed to bring into the kitchen for meals. Looking at him dressed in a nightie with his tousled hair framing his sweet face, he was the picture of an adorable little girl.
"Mommy?" he asked as I stood there admiring him.
"What? Oh, sorry, Honey. I was thinking how pretty you looked. Breakfast is ready. I made blueberry pancakes. Sit down."
He gave me a questioning look.
"It's okay if you keep the doll with you."
The time was long gone for trying to separate them. Little girls carried their dollies around. For now Jamie belonged to that gender and gained the privilege.
"Just put her in you lap and eat neatly, so you don't get anything on her," I cautioned him."
I made a stack of three pancakes, with a little pat of butter on the top that began to melt with the warmth, cut them into bite sized pieces, poured on hot maple syrup and served him. He gave me a big smile and I smiled back.
"Jamie, after breakfast, we'll get you dressed in one of your new outfits and then we have to do some shopping. There are still a few more things I need to buy you."
"More clothes for Jamie?" he asked.
"More clothes for Jamie you, not Jamie the doll, Sweetie. She has enough clothes."
"She doesn't have anything to sleep in, like me," he contradicted me.
"No, but she's a doll, not a person like you. It doesn't matter what she sleeps in."
"Jamie's dress will get all wrinkled. You said I had to be careful, Mommy, but when I'm sleeping I can't take care of her."
Boy or girl, Jamie was definitely going to be a lawyer when he grew up. Considering that the only mother-daughter activity I had planned for today was shopping for a nightgown, looking for doll clothes would be a good addition to our itinerary.
"Okay," I conceded. "We can shop for her too. Now finish up and then go pick out something to wear."
After breakfast, I cleaned up the kitchen and then went upstairs to see what Jamie had picked out. To my surprise, he was on the bed putting on the doll's party dress.
"Jamie, I thought I asked you to pick out something for you to wear, not your doll. You're going out and she's staying home, isn't she?"
At least he hadn't wanted to take her out yesterday, when I offered. He shook his head.
"No you're not going out, no she's not going out or no she is going out?" I questioned him.
"Jamie's staying home."
"Jamie, the doll?"
He nodded his head.
"That's a yes?"
I rolled my eyes and he gave me a sheepish look.
"Why does she have to get dressed up, if she's not going out?"
"She likes to get dressed up."
Then I thought of something that had me concerned. If he and the doll dressed alike when they could, did this mean that he expected to wear his party dress when we went shopping? Thinking back to what I had said at breakfast, I hadn't been specific about which of his new clothes he could choose from. Jamie had no familiarity with girl's clothes, so maybe he was confused about what he could wear.
"You don't want to wear your party dress to go out, do you?"
He looked at me blankly.
"A party dress is only for special occasions. That's why it's called a party dress, because it's for birthdays or holidays, like the pretty green dress Priscilla gave you. You don't wear them every day. You can dress your doll up however you like, but you can't wear whatever you like."
Unfortunately, when I went shopping for summer clothes, I hadn't expected Jamie would need a whole week's worth of skirts and dresses. If Jamie was a girl, he'd pretty much dress like a boy in shorts or pants and a top. The whole point of him spending the week as a girl was to let him express his feminine feelings, if he had any. Maybe I was being too concerned about not exposing him to anything that wasn't girly-girl, but a boy in his own clothes is a boy and he wasn't supposed to be a boy this week. The only two items that Jamie hadn't worn yet were the white eyelet dress, which was too dressy and the romper. That would be perfect. I looked through the assortment, found it and held it up.
"Look, Jamie, this is really cute. I'd like you to wear it for me please. Okay?"
He looked at it and then looked at the party dress he was putting on his doll, then he looked back at me. I moved the skirt to show how it was really culottes.
"See Jamie, the bottom actually has legs. They're called culottes. Girls really like them, because they look pretty, like a skirt, but they're much easier to wear. We do need to hurry up, Sweetie, if we want to get everything done," which wasn't true. We had the whole day with nothing else to do. "I'll tell you what," I bribed him, "put this on and we'll go shopping for you and for the doll too."
Before he could argue, I asserted my authority as a mother by going over to him and taking off his top, leaving him in his panties. I handed him a clean pair and unbuttoned the front of the romper while he was changing.
"Okay, Honey, turn around and lift one leg," I directed him, slipping on one side of the culottes. "Okay, now the other leg. Good." I held out a sleeve. "Arm in. Other arm, please." I lifted the top over his shoulders. "Turn around again and face me." I buttoned it up. The romper was smooth polyester and cotton with a pink, aqua and bright yellow awning stripes, cap sleeves, and a collarless v-neck. "I think your white sandals would look very nice. I got them and fastened the buckles. "There. All that we need to do is to brush your hair. Oh, Oh, silly me. I was so involved in getting you dressed, I forgot to have you use the bathroom or wash up. Let's go."
We went into the bathroom. Now was as good a time as any to teach him about the difference between boys and girls bathroom technique. I recalled how long it took me to get him off the potty and to go standing up, first in the bathtub and, once he became sufficiently proficient at aiming, graduating to the smaller target of a toilet.
"Umm, Jamie, girls, well, umm, when you're a girl, umm," this was not going well at all. "Umm, you remember when you were little and you sat down to make a sissy? Well, umm, that's how girls, umm, that's how you do it when you're, umm, wearing a skirt or dress, because, umm, you have to lift them up and hold them out of the way," except that he couldn't lift up the romper, because it had legs, so that explanation made no sense. Try again, Ginny.
"Jamie, girls are different than boys." Doh. "We sit when we make sissies and when you're being a girl, you have to sit too." I unbuttoned his top and let the romper slip down to the floor. "Okay, Honey, make a sissy." I turned away to give him some privacy and waited. "You can't shake when you sit." Can you? I didn't have the equipment to experiment. "When you sit, you use a piece of toilet paper to clean yourself off, so you don't get dribbles in you panties."
I got Jamie re-dressed, had him wash his hands and used a washcloth on his face after he brushed his teeth. We went back into his room. I brushed his hair and put in a barrette on each side with a little butterfly, very summery. I took out a pair of gold heart shaped magnetic earrings and held them out.
"Jamie, would you like to wear earrings like your mother?"
I paged my hair back to show him my gold hoops. He looked over to the doll, but her ears were covered by her hair, then at me, thought for a few seconds, and nodded. I put on the earrings.
"Honey, they may feel a little funny at first. You're not used to having anything on your ears, but you'll get used to them and pretty soon you won't even know you are wearing them."
The last item I took out was the gold heart locket on a thin gold chain, which I hung around his neck. There was a matching bracelet, but I didn't want to overdo it. Little girls loved to dress up with jewelry, but this was all new to Jamie. I stood back and looked closely at him. A pretty little girl looked back at me.
"Okay, Sweetie, you look like a little doll," hoping that the comparison would make him feel good about himself or herself. Ginny, you need to be very careful. You've already outed him twice. Third time is not a charm. Jamie may look like a girl, but you've got to treat him like one, if this is experiment is going to work. Remember, he, oh for crying out loud, Ginny, she is your daughter. I gave her hair a final primp.
"In the car and off we go, Honey. Remember how I showed you to smooth your skirt when you sit."
I buckled her, very good, Ginny, in and started for the mall. Maybe Claire would be there. I couldn't remember if she worked on Tuesdays. Did we really need to shop in a department store? I remembered seeing children's clothes advertised in a discount store's circular in the Sunday paper. They must have nightgowns and Jamie doesn't need anything fancy. You don't even know if he, Ginny!, if she will be wearing it after this week. Besides, nobody assists you in those kind of stores, so you and Jamie can have fun browsing and they have a toy section too, so you can shop for doll clothes at the same time. There was one discount store about ten minutes away and another across town. We were in no hurry and we were less likely to run into someone we knew there.
Jamie sat patiently while I drove to the store. I parked and we went in. There were convenient banners that indicated the different sections. I found the one that said "Girls" and headed over there. Unlike the orderly display at the department store, there was a sea of racks with every type of clothing. I held Jamie's hand as we wandered around. I tried to see if there was anything that caught his eye, but he just followed along. Finally, I found the sleepwear area. I looked through the racks and found a very feminine t-shirt style pastel pink polyester Barbie nightgown, with her as a ballerina pirouetting on the front and a little white bow on each sleeve. I held it up for Jamie to see.
"Do you like this one?"
He studied it for a few seconds.
"It's nice. Is there one for Jamie?"
"I don't know, Honey. I told you, we are shopping for you, not your doll. When we're done, we can look to see if there is anything like it for her."
"It doesn't look like my other one."
What other one?
"Oh, you mean the tank top you wore last night? That's not really a nightie, Honey. This will be much more comfortable. Feel it. It's so soft and silky."
I held it out and Jamie ran his hand over it.
"I'm going to buy this one for your," I announced, "and we should find one other nightgown for you."
I looked through the racks and saw a cute white cotton peasant style top with puffy, ruffled sleeves and a flounced hem, under which went white capris with a matching ruffle around the cuff. I couldn't resist it.
"And these, Jamie, they're adorable."
I was hoping that Jamie would show some enthusiasm, but no. She just waited for me while I shopped. Patience, Ginny. She's only been girl for a day and a half.
"Okay, Honey, these will do. Now let's go to the toy section and see what we can find for your doll."
I checked the banners, found the toy section in the middle, rear of the store and navigated there, weaving out of the racks and bins of juniors, misses and women's clothing, through lingerie, then shoes, finally arriving at the beginning of an aisle stacked with children's games. We continued down the aisle and up the next aisle, which had an assortment of action toys. The next aisle was all girls' toys. There were lots of boxed dolls, Barbie and her friends predominated, but there were other sizes and types, and an assortment of boxed sets of accessories for playing house; but no wardrobe for Jamie's doll.
"Jamie, listen, how about if I buy you some toys that you can use with your doll?"
I showed her a set of pots and pans with miniature cooking utensils and different kinds of pretend food, but she had no interest in it. Why should she? Little girls grow up with these kinds of toys. Maybe she'll get into it after she plays with her cousins, if she plays with them as a girl, which thought reminded me I was waiting for Karen's decision. In the meantime, there was no point in buying Jamie an unfamiliar toy. The problem was that I had made a commitment of sorts to buy Jamie's doll something to sleep in, if he cooperated with my dressing him up. Where else could I find doll sized clothes? Then it struck me. Maybe there was something that would fit her in the infant's section. She wasn't a baby doll, but she was about the same size as a newborn.
"Come on, Jamie, there's another place I want to look for doll clothes."
Jamie followed me to the infant's section. Sure enough, there were tiny t-shirts that were for slightly older babies, but they would fit his doll. I found one in light pink with a rainbow design on the front. I also found a two piece powder blue sleeper set with a loose top and short pants that looked a little like the pajama outfit. Hopefully, Jamie wouldn't notice how loosely the bottoms fit to accommodate a diaper or realize that pink was for girls and blue was for boys. She seemed satisfied. I took the purchases to the checkout counter, paid for them and we went out to the car. It was almost one o'clock when we pulled out of the parking lot.
"I'm hungry, Honey. Let's stop. I headed back towards our house. On the way, we passed a nice looking casual restaurant and I pulled in. It wasn't that crowded on a beautiful summer weekday and the hostess seated us in a booth. The waitress came over and gave Jamie a big smile, believing her to be what she seemed, a very pretty little girl.
"That's a beautiful locket," she said making polite conversation. "I had one like it when I was a little girl. And I love your hair." She unconsciously primped her own short blonde hair. "What can I get you ladies? Would you like a cold beverage, a glass of milk for your daughter or ice tea for you?"
"Yes, both please, you read my mind. I don't need a menu. I know what we want to order, a grilled cheese on white for her and a grilled cheese and tomato on whole wheat for me. Ask the cook to go light on the butter, please."
"Yes. Do you want the child's special? It comes with potato chips, milk and a small dish of ice cream for $4.99. Your sandwich comes with chips too, but the beverage is extra and no desert for grown-ups." She winked at Jamie.
"The special, please. Does she get a choice of ice cream?"
"It's vanilla, but I'm can get you any of the flavors on the board."
"What would you like, young lady?" she asked Jamie.
"That was easy. Okay, grilled cheese on white and grilled cheese on whole wheat, light on the butter, milk, iced tea, and a dish of vanilla ice cream," she confirmed and left.
She returned with the milk and iced tea. While we were waiting for our lunch, I took Jamie to the ladies room to wash up. I no longer had any concern about taking her in with me. A few minutes after we returned, the waitress brought our sandwiches to the table. After Jamie finished her desert, I paid the bill and we left. It was a little after two o'clock. There was nothing left for us to do, so I drove home.
When we got in the house, I told Jamie to go play. I took Jamie's nightgown and pajama's and the baby clothes for the doll into the kitchen and cut off the tags. Normally, I would go out in the backyard to sit in the sun and take Jamie with me to play, but I didn't want the neighbors to see her. I went upstairs and got my book. I made a mental note to stop off at the library and get some more reading material, because I was going to be spending a lot of time in the house.
Time dragged on. I tried to concentrate on my reading, but I had too much on my mind. Finally, it was four thirty and I could start dinner. After dinner, I sent Jamie upstairs and followed a little while later to get her ready for bed. It was early, but I wanted to see how she looked in her nightgown. I got her undressed, washed her up and slipped the nightgown over her head.
"Do you like it, Jamie?"
"What about Jamie's pajama's?" she asked.
"It's not pajamas, Honey. Pajama's have pants. It's a nightgown. And yes, here's a nightgown for the doll. Do you want me to put it on her?"
He shook his head.
"Okay, you do it. Then come downstairs and we can watch a video until it's your bedtime."
I left and went to the den. I went through the Disney videos and picked out Sleeping Beauty. It seemed appropriate. About ten minutes later, Jamie came down with his doll dressed in the t-shirt. The nightgown rode up as Jamie settled herself on the couch and I reminded her to pull it down to cover her legs. She held the doll in her lap and snuggled up to me. By the time happily ever after came around, Jamie's eyes were closing. I took her upstairs, put her into bed, pulled up the covers, kissed her goodnight and left. I waited outside her room for a few minutes, until I was sure she was asleep, and then went into my room to get ready for bed. I hoped that the phone would ring, but it had only been one day and, knowing Karen, she would not make a quick decision.
The bedroom was dark when I woke up. At first, I thought it was still early, but I glanced at the clock on my nightstand and it was almost eight. I must have forgotten to set the alarm. I went to the window and opened the shade. It was a dreary day and looked like it was going to rain. Not that I had any outdoor activities planned. I looked in on Jamie and she was still sleeping. I went downstairs and looked through the local paper while I had my morning cup of tea. I checked the weekly event calendar to see if there were any mother-daughter activities. There was a promotion for a two o'clock performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Children's Puppet Theatre. Jamie would enjoy that. The main branch of the library offered a weekly story on Wednesdays at eleven o'clock. Jamie would like that too. He couldn't read yet, well, he sight read a few words, but he could get some picture books and I could find a novel or two. That would work perfectly. Good, Ginny, you had the day planned.
I went up to Jamie's room and stood by his bed.
"Good morning, sleepy head. Rise and shine. We have a fun day today. We're going to the library to hear a story and then to a puppet show. Let's get you washed up and dressed before you have breakfast. That way we can get going after you eat."
I pulled back the covers, revealing Jamie in her nightgown. She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. I put out my hand, she took it and I took her into the bathroom.
"Go to the bathroom first, and then I'll help you wash up."
Jamie stood in front of the toilet, but hesitated. I realized that she was used to pulling down her pants instead of lifting up her dress for access.
"Turn around, reach up under your nightgown and pull down your panties. Then pull your nightgown up to your waist and sit down," I explained.
He followed my directions.
I remembered that when she was being potty trained the seat came with a guard to insert at the front for boys to avoid accidents.
"Make sure you point down," I cautioned him.
She finished and started to get up.
I handed her a folded up piece of toilet paper.
"Make sure you're dry and then drop it in the bowl."
She patted himself, disposed of the toilet paper and stood up.
"Good, now pull up your panties and straighten out your nightgown."
I supervised her washing up and brushing her teeth. Back in her room, I gave her a clean pair of panties. She would be sitting a lot today, so I dressed her in the skort and top she wore when we went to the park to be on the safe side of girls' fashion. I brushed her hair, put in the butterfly barrettes and accessorized with the earrings and necklace. Looking at her, I thought to myself that, although she wasn't born a girl, she should have been. Ginny, I reprimanded myself, that's silly. He may look girlish now, but remember what Jenny said about what she had to go through to be feminine, hormones, implants and surgery. You couldn't wish that on Jamie.
I gave Jamie a bowl of cereal with fruit, toast and a glass of juice so that it would be a quick cleanup and then we could leave for the library, but I was interrupted by the telephone. I assumed it was a sales call, but then I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Karen's office number. It was unusual for her to call me during the day, especially from her office.
"Hi, Ginny. I knew you were anxious about this weekend. Ginny, I need to explain …," she hesitated - I had never known Karen to be at a loss for words before - "… but the short answer Sis is no. I'm sorry. I love Jamie and I would do anything for him, but the timing is wrong. Ginny, I want you to understand, I gave this a lot of thought. I researched it and, just to get another perspective, I talked it over with a gay couple I know, in the abstract of course. It all lead to the same conclusion, that Jamie's not ready to come out."
"Karen, I don't understand," I said with my hand in front of my mouth, so Jamie wouldn't overhear. "Jamie's already out. She wears girls' clothes, she had her hair done in a beauty salon and everyone who sees her thinks she's a girl. She really looks pretty all dressed up," I bragged. "I'm sure Debbie and Cindy will accept her as a girl. So will Dave, once he sees her."
"Yes, Ginny, they will and that's my concern. Jim and Chuck, my gay friends, said it best, that coming out redefines you. I want my family to love Jamie for himself or herself, but we don't know which one yet. Do you understand Ginny? If Dave and the children do accept Jamie as a girl, then that is how they will continue to see him, even if it turns out that is not how he sees himself. I hope you're not upset with me, Ginny."
"No, Karen, of course not, but why did Jenny, Dr. Mitch..., sorry, approve of it when I made the suggestion.
"Did she what?"
"Did she approve of it?"
I thought about what she said.
"Well, no, not exactly, I guess. She said I should talk to you about it and then speak with her on Thursday."
"Ginny, the more I hear about Dr. Mitchell, the more impressed I am with her. A good therapist doesn't want her patients to become dependent. You're Jamie's parent. You have to decide what is best for him. Counseling you afterwards allows her to discuss your decision without influencing it."
"Oh, that makes sense. If she didn't feel Jamie was ready, then she would have advised me not to do it, but now she doesn't have to, because I decided not to do it on my own."
"Well, it's more of a compliment to you that she trusts your judgment, rather than an effort by her to avoid counseling you, but yes, Sis, that's the general idea. I'm sorry, but I've got to go. I just wanted to get back to you as quickly as possible."
"Thanks so much, Karen."
"You're welcome, Ginny. Please call me."
"I will, Sis. Love you, bye."
"Love you too, bye."
As I went to hang up the phone, I saw Jamie standing by the door, waiting patiently like a little angel."
"I'm really sorry, Sweetie. I had to talk with Aunt Karen," I explained.
I looked at my watch. It was only a little after ten.
"We have plenty of time."
We drove to the library. I parked and we went in. I asked the woman at the front desk where to go. She directed me to the children's section, which was upstairs. I was familiar with the library. I came here often with Jamie after Jim died, just to get us out of the house. The children's area was a happy place, with low shelves loaded with books and small futons that the kids could climb on to read or look at pictures. I noticed about a dozen boys and girls, from toddlers to a little older than Jamie by their looks, who I assumed were waiting for story time to begin. I let go of Jamie's hand. She loved books and I let her wander around, picking up whatever caught her attention.
Browsing myself, while we waited, I was impressed with the selection. Bears, bees, birds, bunnies, butterflies, cats and kittens dogs and puppies, lions, snakes, every animal imaginable and imaginary had their own story. There were lots of stories about children too. I wondered if there was one about a boy who wanted to be a girl. Probably not, it would be too controversial. That got me to thinking about what the people here would say if they knew about Jamie. What if I told them? Would they tease her? Children can be cruel. Would the ignore her? Adults can be insensitive. Would they accept her? Accept her as what? Not a girl and not a boy. Karen was right, I realized. Coming out changes the way people define you. Better to be sure than sorry.
At about a quarter to eleven, an older woman came into the area. She clapped her hands to get the children's attention.
"Boys and girls, I'm Mrs. Altman. Welcome to the library. Story time will begin in a few minutes. Please find yourself a place to sit. Today I'm going to read you the story of Peter Rabbit. She held up a large picture book she was carrying. He is a very naughty bunny who has a very exciting adventure. Mother's if your child needs to use the restroom, now would be a good time." She had obviously done this before.
A few of the mothers took Mrs. Altman's advice and headed off with their child in tow. Jamie had managed to claim a futon. A few unruly boys tried to bully their way into a seat that was already occupied, but Mrs. Altman refereed. She had definitely done this before. Mothers with the little children sat cross-legged on the floor with them in their laps. A little girl, perhaps a year or two younger than Jamie came over to him and, to my astonishment, she slid over to make room. The two sweet little girls sitting together looked like sisters, I though nostalgically.
At eleven o'clock Mrs. Altman moved to the front of the circle of children and clapped her hands again.
"All right boys and girls, I'm going to start story time. You need to be very quiet." She held her finger up to her lips and made a shushing sound. "Quiet like a mouse, she emphasized. An itsy, bitsy teensy, weensy mouse," she added for dramatic effect. She waited while the children quieted down. Looking to the back of the circle, where I was standing with some of the other mothers she offered, "Ladies, if your child is old enough to be on their own, then you may use the library facilities. Story time will be over at eleven thirty. Please be sure to return by then and please, if you do leave, make sure your child understands that they are not to leave the circle until you are back. Thank you."
I looked over to Jamie and motioned that I was going to go. She smiled, which I took to mean she was comfortable without me around. I waved, so that she would know that I was leaving. She waved back. I heard Mrs. Altman pleasant voice begin the familiar story, "Once upon a time there were four little rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter." She held up the big story book to show an illustration of mother rabbit with her little bunnies. I turned and quietly left.
Downstairs, I looked through the current best-sellers and found two books by authors I enjoyed. I took them to the front desk. I opened my pocketbook to get my library card. As I was rummaging around, I came across the note that I got from the mother of the little girl at the playground, Merry. I tucked it away, got out my wallet and gave the librarian my card. She checked out the books and handed it back to me.
"One week on those novels," Ms. McCarthy, she reminded me, reading my name off of the computer screen. "You can renew for one additional week by telephone. The slip in the inside pocket has the code."
"Thank you Edna," I read the name off her tag, "I know." Since I still had some time before I had to go back, I asked her, "I'm sure most people renew, so why not two weeks to start with?"
"If we gave people two weeks, they'd take two weeks and then they'd want a third week. It's human nature to procrastinate," she observed cynically.
Human nature is to judge a book by its cover too, I thought to myself. I took the books and went back upstairs. Mrs. Altman was finishing the story. I pretty well knew it by heart. It was one of my favorites growing up.
"... Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter! ... ." She held up the big story book to show an illustration of mother rabbit dressed in an apron cooking up dinner for her bunnies. All except Peter, who was too tired from his adventures, the end. The children all clapped enthusiastically. They started to leave and Mrs. Altman watched carefully to make sure that each child was reclaimed. I got Jamie and took her over to Mrs. Altman.
"Say thank you to Mrs. Altman."
"Thank you, Mrs. Altman," Jamie complied.
"You're most welcome, sweetheart. Please come again."
"Jamie, would you like to find some books to take home?"
We looked through the books and found four picture books that looked interesting. I checked them out and we drove home.
It was noon and the puppet show didn't start until two, so there was time for me to make lunch. I got out a loaf of white bread, grape jelly and peanut butter to make the always favorite standby, a PB and J sandwich. I poured a glass of milk and called Jamie down to eat. Of course she came with her doll. While Jamie was eating I thought about the note in my pocket book. I took it out. It had the woman's name, address and telephone number. I wondered. I wanted Jamie to socialize as a girl, but she couldn't go to her cousin's house, because they knew she was a boy.
The mother at the playground, Helen, had offered to have Jamie and her daughter play together. What if I took her up on it? She thought Jamie was a girl. Jenny was not concerned about the encounter in the park. Merry seeing Jamie again would make it more difficult for him to go to school as a boy. Even so, she might not go to school as a boy and then it would be even better to have a girl friend in her class, I rationalized. If worse came to worse, I could enroll her in a different elementary school. If Jenny could arrange for Jamie to go to school as a girl, she must be able to get her transferred as a boy. It would be inconvenient having to drive him across town, but I have nothing else to do. Or, I could send her to private school. That's an option. We can afford it. Why didn't I think of it before? I guess because Karen and I went to public school, but that would be the perfect solution. It wouldn't matter what happened when they got together, because he won't be in school with her. Brilliant, Ginny.
Maybe, I thought, we should go slowly. Let the girls get to know each other. I doubted that they'd be home, although it was a dreary day, so maybe they were. I could invite her to go to the puppet show with us. Then maybe out for ice cream. If it worked out, I could arrange a play date. Was Jamie ready for that? She looked like a girl, but she knew nothing about being one, other than dressing her doll. Would Merry catch on? Was it too soon for Jamie to socialize as a girl? Was it too risky? What would happen to her, if she was rejected or worse, ridiculed, by a real girl? Maybe I should call Jenny and ask her advice, but, like Karen had said, I was Jamie's mother and it was up to me. Okay then, Ginny, try the puppet show and see what happens. I picked up the phone and dialed the number on the note.
TO BE CONTINUED
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