My Family Won’t Understand! –
The private prep school I go to says that I had the brains to go to college. My mother says that I have the brains to go to college. They can’t figure out why I get bad grades and sometimes still know the material better than or as well as the teacher. So they have decided to send me to a psychologist who will test me. Go figure! No doubt their testing will say the same thing I already know. The fact is that I am a sophomore in high school and could care less. Maybe they will figure out why I don’t care anymore. Wouldn’t that be nice? I would like to know myself.
I know what my high school diploma will say. “Mark Charles Daniels. High School FAILURE!”
So, on a Saturday, Mom drops me off after an early lunch at this Victorian Home with a fancy sign out front that says, “Nichols and Associates * Psychological Testing.” She walks me in and checks me in. Then she says she is going to leave me there. Fine. I think, ‘Goodbye Mom. See you in five hours. Thanks for wasting an afternoon of mine. See if I care.’ But, I am nice. I hug her and say goodbye politely saying I will work with them. I plop down in the waiting room. There is a woman with her cute little girl there waiting too. The girl is about four and is cute as a button with long black hair and piercing blue eyes. I am early, so I kill a little time. “Hi, I am Mark. Can we play?”
“Sure. My name is Stephanie. Here is a doll. Her name is Candace. She is a baby. You will need to feed her.”
I get down on the floor, cross my legs, and started to pretend to feed the doll. “Stephanie, I think she just went poo poo. Do you want to change her, or shall I?” I pouted.
Stephanie giggles. “You change her. You are the Daddy.”
I pretend to be mad, put a hand on my hip, and ask in a silly way, “How do you know I am not the Mommy?”
“Because you are a boy, silly!”
“Oh yeah, that is right.” I giggle and pretend to change the doll. The mother watching chuckles at our little exchange.
After I am done changing the doll, I hear this voice behind me. “Mark, you ready to come in?”
I turn around as I am sitting on the floor and this woman, in her late forties I think, smiles at me. She is wearing a pantsuit and is holding a clipboard. I give the doll back gently to Stephanie, say goodbye to her adding that I enjoyed playing with her. I stand up to follow the woman into the nice office. It has a fireplace and it is large. It must have been the drawing room in other days when someone lived here.
I find out she is an associate when she introduces herself as Dr. Joyce Plank. She says, “Because you are fifteen, we can’t give you a standard IQ test. So, we have this test called a W.A.I.S. test. It measures you like an IQ test.” For the next several hours, she tests me on all sorts of things. But, one part stands out. The last test she gave me had her showing me some panels and asks me to arrange them into a story. I did it real fast – like in seconds. She smiled and said, “I am not surprised. The testing thus far shows you can read people fast.”
“Is that the only way to put the story together?” I was distracted by the simplicity of the exercise figuring that it really couldn’t be that simple.
“Well, yes, there is really only one answer. Although, there is another answer if you come from another culture.”
I took a moment and rearranged the panels. “You mean like this?”
She gave me a long look. “Why, yes, as a matter of fact. I am surprised. Your teachers report that English is your worst subject. Yet, this part of the test shows otherwise. You ought to be a straight A student in English.”
“Oh, that is easy. They don’t understand what they are talking about. They are too hung up on the interpretation they were taught ‘at university’ for what is going on in a scene or a story to listen to my ‘immature’ viewpoint.”
“Have you tried to tell them this?”
“Well, yeah. I remember Mr. Stonewall talking about Iphigenia in the Iliad and I pointed out that there was a different way the story could have happened.”
“What did he say?
“That I was wrong and should shut up.”
“How did that make you feel?”
“Angry. Especially when I found out a few weeks later while killing time in a library that Euripides wrote a play called ‘Iphigenia in Aulis’ that used the very plot device I suggested to save her. A substitute sacrifice and then get her the hell out of town.”
She was genuinely concerned and asked, “Did you confront your teacher with that fact.”
“Why? He had already formed his opinion of me. He thinks my ideas are stupid. They aren’t. I read people all the time. He won’t listen to me. He is a cruel, sadistic man.”
She leaned back. Her attention was on me, I could tell. She inquired, “For example, tell me what you read about me?”
She was bold for asking. I answered forthrightly, “You were watching me play with Stephanie for a bit. I heard the door open a few minutes before you called me in. You were checking me out and forming an opinion of me.”
“That is very perceptive. Do you have this happen often?”
“All the time. I know when friends are going to betray me or when someone is lying. I told my mother that her so called friend Karen was talking behind her back to my grandmother about us. Turned out I was right. But my Mom didn't listen! Well, not until my grandmother came and chastised my Mom for not doing certain things with her life. Once she figured out that only Karen could have told her those things did she believe me.”
She ignored the obvious question about how I felt about that and changed the subject. “Do you like math?”
“No, I hate it. It is not my favorite subject.” I was surprised by her question, but I felt she was headed somewhere completely different. She isn’t as easy to read as I thought.
“But, you do okay in math. Why?”
“You are either right or wrong. Pretty black and white.” Stupid question. Really stupid question. Why did she ask it?
“And?” Maybe not so stupid after all. I began to perceive where she was going with this. So I answered her directly.
“And, because I am a boy, they assume all I do is read cartoons and comic books but do well in math. So, they relax and really teach me instead of trying make me into a doting intellectual doppelganger who thinks exactly like they do.” She nodded. She gets it!
“What do you read?” Finally, someone who listens to me. I will give her even more credit for that.
“Dickens, Twain, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Hardy, and other English authors. I love to read. I have since first grade. Anything with the English classics I love.”
“Can I give you another test? Just for grins. There are no right or wrong answers.” I pondered what she was up to. But, I liked her. I could tell she cared about me. I nodded yes.
She pulled a sheet from her drawer and handed it to me. For the next few minutes, I answered questions about how I fit in with others. I hadn’t seen a test like it before. I had to think about how I dealt with people and felt about people. When I finished it, I handed it to her. She quickly graded it and then looked up at me. I could tell it confirmed something to her.
She asked me with a curious look, “What do you think this test measures?”
I thought for a moment. Then it hit me. “It doesn’t measure personality. If anything, those questions resemble male and female points of view.”
She smiled broadly as if I confirmed her suspicions. “Very good. Somehow, I knew you could figure it out. I needed to give it to you before you did, though, or else you would have hidden the truth from me.” She was one smart cookie. She was right. She smirked and asked, “Care to guess what it shows me?”
I sat uneasy in the chair I was in. I shifted away from looking directly at her. I knew what it showed her. I sensed it from the foyer when I realized she was observing me. I looked out her window down the short street and watched as cars passed each other on the main street that the street we were on emptied out onto from this office.
I felt an honest answer was due her. I kept my eyes on the traffic lest her regard affected my honest recollection and said, “Last year, I woke up in a panic in the middle of the night. I fought to wake up as a matter of fact. My heart was racing and I was sweating. It wasn’t a nightmare either. I heard, in my sleep, a baby crying. Not just any baby. It was my baby. And I had to wake up to save her. When I woke up, I sat up in bed and realized that it was a cat fight going on outside my window. In my sleep, I changed their sound to the sound of my baby. All I could think of as I woke up was that my baby needed its Mommy. My eyes were opened that night.”
I looked back at her to see what her reaction would be. She smiled gently and simply said, “I don’t think I need to tell you what this test shows then, do I?” She folded her notebook and relaxed her expression. She then tossed the test I just took into the dustbin. She was calm and kind. I felt at ease.
“No. I know all too well what it says,” I said.
She gave me a sympathetic look. “You should tell your family.”
“My family won’t understand!” Tears streamed down my face.
She sadly nodded. “Maybe one day they will. I wish I could change them for you. Truth be told, I wasn’t hired to help you with your gender issues." She wiped away a few tears too. "In the meantime, I am going to send a report to your school that says that you should be either be home schooled or they should stop and listen to how they treat you. Because your test scores show that you aren’t the problem. Sometimes, teachers need to understand and be told directly that a sensitive and perceptive student, such as you are, will get bad grades because they give up under withering criticism, not because they don’t understand the material, but because the teacher isn’t listening. Teaching you to give up isn’t teaching, it is abuse. Your personal gender issue remains between us.” I breathed a sigh of relief.
I choked out, “Will my family understand that? Will my teachers understand that?”
Her eyes were kind and sympathetic. “I hope so. I will do my best. I know why you give up so easily. But I can’t promise anything. In the meantime, if you need a referral for your other serious matter, you know where to find me. I know good people that can help you.”
It has been almost fifteen years since that fateful day. My grades got better. She got through to my family and my teachers. She was true to her word. I buried my mother last month and now I am alone in the world. My much older siblings are long since absorbed into their own worlds and don’t even know that I am around except to show up to Mom’s funeral and then ask how much they get from her estate. They don’t understand how painful it was for me to watch her die from cancer. I loved her very much even if she didn't get me. So, these many years, I buried my real self away so I could take care of her until the end.
Today, I drove over to my psychologist’s office and made the appointment I have waited and wanted to make all these years. With nobody to disappoint, I am ready to become me at last. My family won’t understand. But, they can’t reject me anymore than they have already.
This is my story. Well, it is my old one. My new story is about to begin. And think I am going to like telling this story at last.
Soon to be,
Marjorie Alyssa Daniels
P. S. Yes, my new initials are M.A.D.! To be honest, I contemplated O.C.D., but I have heard those letters can follow you the rest of your life. Then again, I wonder if I really should go for the initials G.I.D, or is that saying too much? ;-)
Copyright © 2017 by AuP reviner
[Author’s note: I am trying to write a story line for most age brackets so as to develop a sense for how each generation’s story ought to be told and in what style. I started off thinking this would be the late teens or early twenties, but somehow I ended up with it being the thirties. I may develop it further at some point using this as an introduction. But, for now, it is just a short story. Samantha is waiting on me right now. Au travail mes amis! – AuP ]
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