The cows have come home to roost
Five-year-old Ben was visiting his uncle's dairy ranch in Colorado with his mom and his brother Larry, 11, and sister Helena, 7. His cousins Stan and Harvey were there too along with his aunt. The first morning there, Ben woke up in a strange bed and felt something even stranger in his underwear. When he stood up, his thingy that he peed with was hard and making his underwear pop out like a tent. He opened his underwear to look at it and he knew it wasn’t right. He was really scared. He felt he was broken and wanted to run to his mom and ask what the matter with him was. He didn't even want to touch it. Of course, he only touched it when he peed like he had been taught by his mom.
He walked into the unfamiliar hallway to find someone to ask them what to do about his broken thingy. He felt lost in this big strange house, but while he was wondering where his mom was sleeping so he could ask her, it went away. So, he went back into his room. He climbed back into bed and prayed it wouldn't every happen again. He would ask someone later about it.
The next day, while he was playing with blocks on the deck, Ben told Stan and Harvey what happened and how scared he was. Stan was nine and Harvey was eight. They were cousins like him who were also visiting the ranch of their uncle George. The boys knew it was an erection, but pretended that was a serious condition and they had a cure. They thought they could pull a joke on their cousin. They both shook their head and Stan said winking at Harvey, “It’s Woody Syndrome. It can get very serious, but it is easy to treat. We can treat you if you would like?”
Ben was crying now. “I knew I was broken.” and said, “Yes, please, please treat me. It really scares me!” They took Ben into the barn where uncle George had showed them the day before how he treated the boy parts of a young cattle. They thought he just put ordinary water into the boy parts with a syringe to quiet the bull down based on their uncle's description and their uncle’s assurance that no harm was really done to bull. They were too busy whispering in each other’s ears about how funny it was to see their uncle work on a young bull’s male parts that they missed uncle George’s warning that it was serious as he administered the shots. Stan and Harvey also missed the crucial fact that their Uncle stopping the young bull from having children for life as he did the procedure.
They winked at each other as they brought Ben into the barn telling them the doctor had done this to them too and that it stopped it from happening again for them. So, they got Ben to take off his pants and underwear, lie down on a bench, and they did what exactly what they saw their uncle do to the young bull.
Now, you will feel two pricks they said while they used the hypodermic syringe filled with the special water to each of Ben's special parts. Ben was brave and scared. Ben endured the pain of the injections because he was so scared of thingy doing it again. After they were done, Ben said thank you to his cousins. The boys hid their giggles as Ben pulled up his pants. “No problem.” They said. “That is what cousins are for.” Then they said to him, “Let’s get your mind off of this and play hide and go seek. This place has lots of places to hide.”
They played for about an hour when Ben realized that his boy thingy was really hurting and he went to the porch to rest. Stan and Harvey continued. Soon, Harvey came around and asked Ben if he had seen Stan. Nope.
Just then, their mothers came out from the kitchen to the porch and called all the kids to dinner. Everyone showed up but Stan. After calling him for about five minutes, they all started to search for Stan, but Ben stayed there on the porch not feeling well. Soon, Ben went back inside and laid down on the couch and fell asleep. When he woke up, the police were there and everyone was searching frantically for Stan.
Then, behind the barn, a mother's shriek could be heard. It was Ben's own mother. She had walked by an old above ground pool that was filled with green water from collecting rain and also filled with old tractor parts too. She saw two soles of shoes floating the water. It turned out that Stan had climbed into the water to hid in with the old equipment so Harvey wouldn't find him. One of the old tractor parts had fallen on him and knocked him under the water and killed him instantly. After a few hours, his lower body began to float up and his shoes could be seen in the water.
There were police everywhere and so much confusion, that Ben's mom didn't think anything of Ben saying that his thingy really hurt except that she would deal with it later. His mother gave him some children's Advil and ran off to give a report to the policemen. The Advil helped and Ben slept even more.
By the next day, Ben said it was sore, but it still hurt. But his family was so in morning over Stan that they said to Ben, we'll deal with it after we get back home to Texas. They gave him more children’s Advil. If it still hurts when we get home, we'll take you to the doctor.
Because of it, he didn't feel like running around and playing with the boys. Ben sat down with the girls and played with them for the rest of the day. Ben's mother thought about saying something to Ben about it as she often did, but at least Ben was out of her hair for today. She would overlook it this once.
A week later, Ben was back home in the panhandle of Texas. He told his mom it didn’t hurt anymore. He lied. It was still a dull ache. But, by the end of the month, the dull ache was gone. It was still summer vacation when they got back and Ben didn't really feel like playing in the intense Texas heat. So, he joined his sister and her girlfriend across the street and played during the day out of his mother’s sight. So his mom never saw him playing with girls or how much he enjoyed it. Larry was playing baseball so he wasn’t playing with his younger brother anyway.
Summer passed quickly, and Ben was to begin Kindergarten. His mom had arranged a private kindergarten class because the public school insisted on keeping Ben till 3:00. She wanted him home by 1:00. In order to go to the private kindergarten, Ben needed a school physical. So Ben's mom took him to the doctor. He checked Ben's vision and his ears. He checked his throat and his chest. But, because of an emergency, he didn't have time to check his groin.
He signed the school health form anyway and told Ben's mom to bring him back in a year. And he rushed out the door to the hospital. So, over the next year, Ben’s body absorbed some of his boy parts that the shots hurt.
Ben loved Kindergarten. He was very well behaved and the teacher loved him. He wasn't into rough housing like the other boys. He was well mannered. In fact, he was more like one of the girls in the room. He even hung around them during recess and played jump rope with them or hopscotch. The boys teased him really badly one day early in the school year about it. Ben cried and hid in a dark corner.
The teacher tried to get him to play football, baseball, or dodgeball with the boys all that year. But as hard as she tried, Ben cried even harder. She simply couldn't understand why Ben was so afraid. She finally figured out the other boys must have teased him so badly about playing with the girls, that he didn't want to play with boys anymore.
She told Ben's mom that he should get into a sport that doesn't have him contacting other boys directly. It would help him come out of his shell. That way he could get to see that competition was a good thing, but not feel the other boys could pick on him or bully him while he was competing. She told Ben's mom about a summer league of swimmers that might fit the bill. After all, Ben loved to swim and was like a fish in the water thanks to the swimming lessons he had been recently taking. (Ben’s mom was scared about Ben drowning, like Stan.) Ben’s mom said she would think about it.
Finally, when summer came, Ben got an early physical because his mom thought the teacher's idea was great and wanted him to join a summer swim team as soon as possible. This time, the doctor asked Ben to drop his drawers and checked his boy thingy. His mother turned and read a magazine so Ben wouldn't feel embarrassed.
Dr. Smith stopped, felt for his special boy parts again, and couldn't feel them. He checked his notes and saw that at age four, his special boy parts were there. He checked for a hernia and to see if the boy parts had gone back up into the body.
“Mrs. Roberts,” he asked, “has Ben complained about his boy parts hurting in recent memory?”
“Oh my,” said, “about a year ago, at the beginning of summer.” She then told him what happened to Stan. But that for several days Ben complained about hurting down there.”
Ben listened and said, “Yes, my boy thingy really hurt Doctor. But it went away and got better.”
Dr. Smith asked him if he knew why it hurt. Ben told him he thought it was because Harvey and Stan helped him stop his thingy from getting hard from something called Woody’s Syndrome.
“What! How and why did they do that? And what’s Woody’s Syndrome?”
“I woke up with my thingy was hard at uncle George's and it scared me. I told Stan and Harvey about it in the morning. They said it was Woody’s Syndrome. They said there was a treatment they had gone through before for the same thing and it was in the Barn. If they did it, it would save Mommy money and I wouldn't have to make a special trip to the doctor. So they took me to the barn and treated me just like they said they had been treated.”
My mother and Dr. Smith gasped when they heard Stan used a syringe on him. Dr. Smith asked for uncle George's phone number and called him. Thankfully, he got him right away and found out that he used chemical castration on his young bulls.
Ben's mom cried. Ben turned to his mom and said, "Mommy, did I do something wrong?"
"No honey, your cousins did. I am so sorry; you won't be able to have children. You won't even grow up to be a big strong man like your dad. How am I going to tell you dad tonight when he comes home from work?"
"Mommy, can I grow up to be like you instead?" Ben smiled at his mom.
"No, Honey, you're not a girl. You're ..."
Dr. Smith interrupted her, "Would you like to be a girl, Ben?"
"Oh yes Doctor Smith. I really like to wear my sister’s old clothes when no one is around and pretend I am girl. And I like playing with my sister Beth's friends too. We do it all the time. We do girl stuff." Ben didn’t want to say that he really thought he was a girl.
My mother and Dr. Smith looked at each other for a minute.
Dr. Smith bent over to look Ben in the eye and said, "How would you like to see a doctor who could help you become a girl?"
"That would be wonderful!" Ben jumped off the exam table and hung onto Dr. Smith and gave him a big hug and a kiss! The doctor let Ben down gently to the floor. Both adults tried to smile, but Ben was so happy.
On the first day of first grade, this time at a public school, Brenda stepped out of the car in a pretty dress, pink fingernails, a cute short hairdo because it hadn't had much of a chance to grow long yet, and hugged her mom. Her sister Ellen got out too and stood next to her.
Brenda whispered, "Thank you, mommy, for letting me be a girl. I'm sorry you miss Ben but I really like being Brenda."
"It's okay honey, sometimes you have to accept the fact that the cows have come home to roost."
She smiled and gave her little girls a hug and a kiss and watched Brenda skip off to her first day of class.
The doctor told Brenda’s mom yesterday that she was going to have a little boy in December.
Brenda’s mom was thinking of naming him Stanley Benjamin in honor of the boys she had lost.
[Author’s note: I am trying out different voices as I explore writing for the first time in 30 plus years. ‘A Friend in need’ is primarily written from a first person point of view narrative. The narrative for this story is patterned after a child’s illustrated book. As to the scene at the beginning of this story. That really was me at four or five years of age. And it really scared me to death. I still have the vivid memory of how frightened I was. I have no memory of how I resolved my feelings about it though.]
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