Part III - The sleepover.
It was about dinner time, so I got dressed in my itchy boy clothes, and hugged Bobbie and her mother, and left. As I got in the door, auntie told me to go and wash my hands, as if she needed to remind me, and come to the table, because everything was ready. Grandma said grace, and we all sat down to a feast of baked potatoes, green beans, meatloaf, and for dessert, gandma's apple crumb cake. We always talked while we ate about things that we did during the day.
"Ronnie, what did you do over at Bobby's house?"
"We just sat in his room, and talked. He showed me some of his clothes, and we told jokes."
"Sounds like you had a fun time."
"I did grandma."
"Well, tomorrow is Saturday, so I want to make a day of it Christmas shopping."
"Why don't you go and see what is on television while your aunt and I clean up."
"May I help?"
"Honey, boys don't help in the kitchen. Just go and watch television."
"Yes, grandma," I said in a sad voice.
I wasn't interested in anything on television, so I just sat there thinking why everybody can't see me for the girl that I am. I thought back to Bobbie's mom who was so good to me and never called me a boy or a young man. She even said I was a pretty girl. So, If I am a pretty girl, why can't grandma, grandpa, or auntie see me for the pretty girl that I am? I don't know how long I had sat there thinking, but grandma finally told me it was time for me to go to bed.
I went upstairs and ran bath water, then went to get my pajamas, robe and slippers. By the time I got back to the bathroom, the tub was almost filled, so I brushed my teeth, and then turned off the water, and sat in the tub. After washing and rinsing, I dried off and got in to my pajamas, robe and slippers. I went to my room, and got in bed.
That night I dreamed I was at Bobbie's house, and we were having fun putting on a fashion show and doing all the things girls do at a sleepover. Next weekend Bobbie was having a sleepover and her mother invited me to come. That sounds like it would be fun. This will be my very first sleepover, and I will be with all of my friends. I mean, I have friends that are boys too, but I don't really do things with them, we just more less talk.
The next morning I woke up just after nine o'clock, and took another bath, and put on my jeans, light blue shirt, white socks, and my white Keds tennis shoes. I mean, even though these are boy clothes, I still want them to match. I looked in the mirror at my ears, and wished that I could have the holes in them so I could wear earrings like Bobbie and my other girl friends do. I may only be five years old, but Bobbie and the others were teaching me things they have learned. So I knew about taking a sewing needle and poking it through both ears, so I could wear earrings. But what would grandma and auntie say. What would grandpa say or do?
Anyway, after breakfast, we all went downtown and started going from store to store, looking for the right Christmas presents for everybody we had to buy for, including my mother who lived in a city in a different state. There were times I would go to see my mother, but I never knew she was my mother. I thought she was the babysitter, and I had to stay with her while grandma, grandpa, auntie, and uncle Johnny went somewhere I couldn't go to. Now uncle Johnny was hardly ever home, but when he was he tried to interest me in doing boy things.
Like one time, uncle Johnny tried to teach me how to shoot a gun. When he was going to hand the gun to me, I backed away.
"It's okay, Ronnie, you just hold it like this, and softly squeeze this trigger here. So come on, give it a try."
"Uncle Johnny, I don't want to know anything about guns or how to shoot them. Guns scare me, and I don't want to learn how to shoot one."
"How can you go hunting, if you don't know how to shoot a gun?"
"Uncle Johnny, I don't want to go hunting either."
"What do you want to do, then? Do want to stay and help your grandmother and auntie in the kitchen, help clean the house, and mend mine and grandpa's holey socks? That's not things boys do. Boys are rugged and strong. Boys do all the heavy work that women can't do. You're a boy, and you need to learn how to be one."
"Uncle Johnny, a person can be strong without being rugged. My friends taught me that. Women can do heavy work, too. My friends mothers taught me that. Boys can too do all the kitchen work and mending holes in socks. Just because I am a boy on the outside, does not mean I am a boy on the inside. Why is it, that grown ups are always telling us this is who you have to be, because this is how you were born? In church they teach us that we have a soul, and the soul is separate from the body, and that when the body dies, then the soul goes to heaven if it is good, or it goes by the devil if it is bad.
"I have a soul, uncle Johnny, and I am a girl in that soul. You may think because I am very young that I don't know what I want in life, or who I am. But I know what I want and who I am. Just because your soul is a boy, doesn't mean everybody's soul, who is born a boy, is a boy. I am a girl, uncle Johnny, and I don't want to learn anything that boys do."
"Well, you will see when you grow up. You were born a boy, and you just have to make the best of it."
Grandma told me that too, so it must be true . Right? I'm not sure, but I don't think it is. I will have to talk to Bobbie's mom about this. If this man could go to another country and come back as a girl, and she didn't have to make the best on how she was born, then neither do I. I think there is something wrong with a lot of people, but I don't know what, exactly.
In church on Sunday, the priest was saying that we should be thy brother's keeper, and turn the other cheek if someone hits you. Well, isn't this the same thing? I mean, isn't being told I have to make the best of how I was born, and telling me I can't be a girl, the same as hitting me? I don't know. But I have to ask someone about this.
Monday was school and I had to wear my scratchy boy clothes, and I envied all the girls who wore such pretty dresses, skirts and blouses, had their hair in nice waves, or pony tails, and were always smiled at by the teachers. Maybe tonight I can talk to Miss Spencer about this.
So anyway, here I was, another day of being called a boy or a young man, and I just want to go somewhere and cry. Tonight grandma and auntie want to do more Christmas shopping, and they want me to come along. At least if I can't wear the dresses, I can look at them. That afternoon when the final bell rang, I headed to Miss Spencer's room.
She was wiping the blackboard off when I saw her.
"Miss Spencer, may I talk to you, please?"
"Of course, Ronnie, come in."
I told her what my thoughts were, and that even my friends said I was a very pretty girl, but that nobody could see that. I asked her why that was.
"Well, all I can say is, people only see with their eyes instead of their heart. They see you because you were born a boy. They don't see the kind, caring, gentle girl that you are. I have seen you do a lot of feminine things, and at first I just put it down to being so young, but then I noticed that you kept doing these feminine things without effort. Like they were natural to you. You know Ronnie, you can be the girl that you are, all you have to do is keep doing what you are doing, and sooner or later, probably later, you will see that others will see you like that too."
"Bobbie's mom asked me to come to Bobbie's sleepover on this Friday and Saturday night. She said I could borrow one of the Bobbie's nightgowns, and an outfit to wear. But my grandma and auntie are telling me that I have to be a boy because that is how I was born, and I just have to make the best of it. I only wish they could see the girl inside."
"Well, just know that you can still be you, Ronnie, no matter what anybody says. Do you know about Christine Jorgensen? She was a man who was in the army, and when he got out, he went to Copenhagen, Denmark and became a woman. His name when he went to Denmark was George Jorgensen, and he changed it to Christine after he became a she. So just remember, dear, that if she could do what made her happy, so can you."
"Thank you, Miss Spencer." She gave me a hug, and I went home. Of course home was only a couple of blocks away, so it didn't take me long to get there.
"Ronnie, what took you so long? School was over a half an hour ago."
"Yes auntie, but I stopped to talk to Miss Spencer."
"Okay. Anyway, go and wash your hands, and come down to dinner. Then after we have everything cleaned up, we are going shopping again."
I was very quiet at dinner, and everybody kept looking at me. Grandpa always was the one who could make anybody laugh no matter what. But as I sat there taking small bites, and keeping my knees together like I had seen the girls do, he just kept telling me that I was a good girl. Grandma and auntie promptly gave him a scolded look, and he said it was true . He told them I sit and eat like they do. Uncle Johnny agreed with grandpa, so it was two for and two against, and I held the deciding vote. Now that made me laugh. They all looked at me and asked me what was so funny.
"I just thought that grandma and auntie don't want me to be a girl, but grandpa and uncle Johnny are saying I am acting like a girl, and the deciding vote is with me. Like on television when two sides are tied."
"Are you sure you are only five years old?"
"Yes grandpa, I am only five years old."
"Uhhuh, five years old going on fifteen. You talk like a teenager instead of a little boy."
There we go again. little boy this, young man that. It makes me sad that they can't see beyond what their eyes are telling them. What did Miss Spencer say? Oh! Yes! People see with their eyes instead of their hearts. Maybe if people saw with both their eyes and their hearts, and really knew what they were seeing, things would be different. Maybe. I mean even though grandma and auntie didn't want me to be a girl, they never said anything about the way I did things, or that most of my friends I did things with, were girls. I guess that is a good thing. I wonder what they would say if they knew I was asked to go to a sleepover at one of my girl friend's houses? I won't tell, if you won't.
The kitchen was cleaned up after dinner was over, and grandma, auntie, and I, got our coats and we left for the city. We had to shop in the city, because the little town that we lived in, only had a harware, paint, clothing, bicycle, toy, and grocery store all in one. So the city was the place to go shopping at. But we lived an hour away. We shopped until the stores started closing, and we left to go back home.
I didn't see what they were buying because I was too busy looking at the dresses, and the skirts and blouses. When we got home, grandma and auntie took all the bags to grandma and grandpa's room. I went in my room to read. I couldn't concentrate though, because I was thinking about all the pretty things I had seen and wished were mine. I got into my pajamas and got in bed. Grandma came by the door and asked if I was feeling all right. I said not really because I was sad because everybody wants me to be them. I didn't know what that meant, but I had heard bigger kids and even grown ups say that now and then.
The week went by kind of in a daze for me, and it was Friday. Bobbie asked me if I was coming to her sleepover, and I said I would, but I had to pretend to be at the other Bobby's house. She said that was okay, and she would have a nice outfit out for me to wear. Now, all of my girlfriends knew that I had wanted to be a girl like forever, and they accepted that. This also would not be the first sleepover I went to, either. I went to a couple at Jenny's house. Jenny was in the first grade, but she was still a good friend.
Anyway, I had to eat dinner, and then ask grandma if I could spend the weekend by Bobby's. I had given grandma Bobbie's phone number so she could call and see if I was there and if I was behaving. This way grandma would think she was talking to Bobby's mom. It is nice to have friends with the same name. I smiled when I thought about that.
Grandma said I could, and I got my pajamas, grandma's idea, a change of clothes, and my church suit. Bobbie didn't go to the same church as we did, but I thought church was church, so it didn't matter that I went with Bobbie's family. Bobby also didn't to our church either. Grandma didn't worry too much though, because she knew at least I went to church on Sunday when I spent the weekend. When I came in the living room, grandma was on the phone, and I heard her say that would be a great idea, and she hung up.
"Bobby only lives a couple of blocks away. Do you want me to help you with your things?"
"No grandma, but thank you."
"Alright, you behave, and we will see you Sunday night right after dinner." She gave me a hug, and made sure I got through the door okay.
I got to Bobbie's house by my round about way of going past Bobby's house. When I got there, I was told to put my things in her closet until I had to go home. Then I could change back to my dumb old boy clothes.
We went up to Bobbie's room, and she had an outfit all ready for me. I went to take a nice bath using her perfumed soap she used when she went to church. After washing and drying, she put powder and lotion on me, then I got dressed. The dress was a nice cream color gingham, with a scoop neckline, and came to my knees. The slip and panties were just plain white, but had lace around the waist, legs, and hem. Then she had me wear ankle socks with lace at the top, and her cream colored Mary Janes. Her mother had a nice wig for me, that she said was just a tad small for her. She told me that it was mine and I could wear it anytime I came over. I was in heaven and I was really happy that I had friends that saw me, and not just what I looked like. Of course as any girl knows, looks are made not born.
Bobbie's mom made some popcorn, and she gave us each a glass of soda, and we sat down to watch a movie that came on late. This was Friday night, and we were allowed to stay up, as long as we could keep our eyes open. The movie was very good, it was a science fiction movie called The Day The Earth Stood Still, and it had Michael Rennie and Samd Jaffe in it. Michael Rennie played an alien that came to earth to warn everybody that what we did on our planet was our business but if we went looking for trouble in space, the earth would be wiped out. Sam Jaffe played a scientist that held a conference of scientists at Michael Rennie's space ship. Patricia Neal was the lady who helped Michael Rennie when he was in trouble, and broke up with her boyfriend because he turned Michael Rennie in.
"I would never break up with my boyfriend because of some alien," Judy said looking at the ceiling.
"Depends on how handsome the alien was," Marcie replied with a smile.
"I think it was a good movie, but that robot Gort would really scare me," Jenny added.
"What do you think, Ronnie?" Bobbie asked me.
"It was good, and I was hoping that the alien would really be able to complete his mission. Just think, a race of robots for police. That would be really scary."
"Oh I know it would," Marcie agreed.
"Alright girls, it's time to get to sleep," Bobbie's mom had said, when the movie was over. "You can talk tomorrow."
We went up stairs, and we did the eenie meenie miney mo thing to pick who was sleeping in the other bed in Bobbie's room, or in a blanket on the floor. I, Marcie, and Jenny got the floor. Oh well, it was alright, because we still talked, until Bobbie's mom came up and reminded us we were supposed to be sleeping. But she had a smile on her face when she went downstairs. So we whispered.
We talked about what they were going to teach me tomorrow. These are things their moms have been teaching them since they were born. My mom never taught me anything like this. But I was told that I should at least show my auntie and grandma my painted finger and toenails. I looked at them with a fearful look, but Marcie said I needed to show at least my family that I was serious. Sometime that night, we all fell asleep.
The next morning, almost afternoon, we finally went down to breakfast after taking our baths and getting dressed. Bobbie's mom asked us if we slept alright, and we said yes. She looked at us and just smiled, then made us breakfast. I just wanted a slice of jelly toast, glass of milk and one of juice.
"What??? Are you a bird, you have to eat so light?"
"No ma'am, but I don't need to get used to eating too much."
"Because ma'am, girls have to watch their figures, and I intend to live the rest of my life as the girl I am in here," I said, pointing to my heart.
She came over and gave me a big hug. "That's a girl. You never let anybody tell you that you are not a girl. You just be who you want to be."
"Thank you, ma'am," I said kinda in a sad tone.
"It's too bad you don't have long hair, Spring, because we could practice setting each other's. But you can practice setting ours though."
I smiled when I said, "that sounds like fun."
"We can also practice on each other's nails. Bobbie knows how to polish her nails really good."
"That really is fun. We can practice with different colors too."
"Well, you girls just have fun. Ronnie, if you want, I can show you how to set the hair on the wig I gave you."
"Thank you, ma'am, I would like that."
After we were finished with breakfast, we went back in the living room and we turned on the television to watch cartoons. We watched cartoon after cartoon and we laughed and laughed. When the cartoons were over, we went to Bobbie's room, and we sat on the beds, and Bobbie asked me to come over by her vanity. She showed me how her mother showed her how to polish her nails, and said she was only allowed to have them polished on the weekends. Then Marcie had an idea. Now, I was just a tad scared when she mentioned it, so we didn't do it, but she wanted to pierce my ears. I told her no, not now. She just shrugged and said well maybe later, and we let it go.
While they were showing me how to set their hair, Bobbie's mom called up to tell us lunch was ready. We went down and had a bowl of tomato soup and a lunchmeat sandwich. Then we asked if there was anything we could do to help clean up.
"No girls, you just have a good time. I will take care of everything else."
We went back to Bobbie's room, and Bobbie told me to sit down and she would show me how to polish my fingernails. She did one nail, then said I needed to do the others. While I was doing my fingernails, she was doing my toenails. I was wondering why girls painted their nails, so I asked Bobbie.
"Mother told me it's to add color to our otherwise plain body. When I get older mother will let me wear eye makeup, lipstick, and face powder. But right now she just allows me to wear nail polish. She taught me how to polish my nails by myself."
"How come you know so much about makeup, Bobbie?" I asked, looking puzzled.
"I asked mother why she put makeup on, and she said so we can feel pretty as well as look pretty. I asked her if she would teach me, but she said she would teach me to polish my nails, because it would give me something to do, when I have nothing to do. If that makes any sense. But she told me that she would teach me more in a few years." She was finished with my toes but I was still on my fingers. She took the nail polish and said she would finish for me, but she told me to watch how she did it. I practiced over and over and finally I got to where I could do my nails myself.
By the time dinner was ready, I had nice, shiny, pink nails. Bobbie's mom called up to tell us dinner was ready, and we went down to dinner. As we sat down, Bobbie's mom noticed my nails.
"You have very pretty nails, Spring. Are your toes polished too?"
"Yes, ma'am. Bobbie showed me how to do them. Then I did them over and over until I got it right. Bobbie said you taught her how."
"Yes, I did. Every girl should know how to polish her nails, at least. I taught Bobbie how, because it will give her something to do when she has nothing to do."
I giggled, as I said, "that's what Bobbie said."
When we finished eating, we asked if we could help clean up. Bobbie's mom said that would be fine, because with everybody helping, then it would get done quicker. So we all pitched in. Bobbie and I cleared the table, Jenny and Claire helped scrape the leftover food off of the plates and into the garbage. Bobbie's mom washed, and we all helped dry. Bobbie's mom said that she would put them away.
Being Saturday evening, we usually watched television. There were quite a few good movies on, on Saturday night. But they all started around eight o'clock. So we went back upstairs and Claire let me set her hair. All I did was put it in a pony tail, and then put some small butterfly barettes on each side of her head just before each ear. She told me how to the bangs, and I was learning. When I was finished, her hair looked great; not as great as her mom could do, but it looked all right.
We played with Bobbie's dolls and we pretended to be in the park with our babies. Of course we were all mommies and we were the best of friends and we talked about our husbands, and our pets, and what pests both are at times. Of course we were doing what we seen our mommies and daddies do. After a while, Bobbie's mom called up and asked if we wanted to watch television. We went downstairs and sat on the couch or the floor by the couch. The movie tonight that was on was White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. I liked this movie. When it was over, we said our good nights and gave hugs, and went up to bed. Now I don't know about everybody else but I like to take a nice bubble bath when I get up, and a nice shower or maybe even a bubble bath before I go to bed. That way I don't go to bed with the day's dirt on me.
When I got up, I saw a really nice dress on the chair by the bed, a white slip and panties, and black Mary Jane's. I got up and went in the bathroom, and my bath water was ready. It seemed someone knew when I would be getting up. I giggled because how could someone know when someone else is getting up, unless they woke them up. As I got undressed, and sat in the tub, Bobbie's mom came in and said she was just going to wake me up.
"I set one of Bobbie's dresses by the bed, and underthings too. There is a pair of her shoes, and if they fit well, you can have them. Bobbie doesn't really wear those, but I think they look pretty. Anyway, Spring, take your bath, get dressed, and come down to breakfast."
I didn't need to know how to get dressed, because I had been wearing Bobbie's clothes everytime I came over. So after my bath, I went in Bobbie's room and got dressed. Even though the slip and panties were white, the dress was a beautiful sleeveless, cream colored organza, back buttons, (I needed help getting it fastened), and had lace at the hem. I was told this had an empire waist and there was a sash that went around the empire waist and tied in back. Bobbie's mom showed me how pretty the pink sash was tied into a very nice bow. Then she mussed with a wig she said she didn't wear any more, and she pinched my cheeks so they would be kinda red. She said that would be beautiful on my because red was "my" color.
After breakfast, we all got in the car, and we all got compliments from Bobbie's dad. He drove us to the church. Bobbie's family didn't go to the same church mom and I did, but it was a church. I found out that the prayers were basically the same, and that the minister read from the Bible. That's what we did at our church, anyway. So it wasn't all that different. I was introduced as Bobbie's cousin who was visiting from out of town. Most of the grown ups seem to accept that but the kids were giving me strange looks. Most of these kids went to my school, and some were in my class. So I just pretended to be who Bobbie's mom said I was, and everybody let it go.
After church was over, we went out to have lunch at Denny's. I wasn't very hungry, so Bobbie and I shared a salad. When we got back home, I was told that we had some time left before we all had to go home. So we played, and we played, and then Bobbie's mom came up and said that my mother was downstairs to get me, so I had better get changed. I started to get up, when mother walked in the room.
"I thought we talked about this. Honey, boys don't wear dresses."
"I'm sorry mother, but this is who I am. This is how I want to be. Can you love this girl like you loved the boy?"
"Honey, I love you no matter what. But I don't want to see you get hurt. There are people in the world that if they know you are a boy dressing like a girl, they will hurt you. You have always learned quickly, andmaybe you should have been a girl. But sweetie, you are a boy, and boys don't dress like this."
"Mrs. Kelly, may I speak to you downstairs, please?"
"Yes, of course. Ronnie you get changed in to your normal clothes and come downstairs."
I don't know what they talked about, but when I went downstairs, I was still dressed in Bobbie's outfit. When mother saw me, she just let out a sigh.
"I can see that you aren't going to make this easy on me. Are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you are going to keep dressing like this. Aren't you?"
"Yes mother, I am. Mother, everybody says that I am too young to know my own mind, and yet you tell me that I learn quickly. What I want to know is this. Am I too young to know my own mind, or is it that I do learn quickly and know what I am doing?"
"I think, young lady, for the time being we will just wait it out and see. Right now I will just consider this a phase that you are going through. But we will see."
"Mother, I may only be five years old, but I know a lot of things. I mean, I like playing jump rope, hopscotch, jacks, and with dolls, and being with other girls. Most of my friends are girls. We had the sleepover here, and I knew if I said I was going by this Bobbie you wouldn't let me. You would tell me boys don't go to a girl's sleepover. Well, see my nails. We did those last night. I set Bobbie's hair, I put it in a nice pony tail. Mother I had so much fun being here, and I want to come to another sleepover again." She looked at Bobbie's mother.
"It would be fine with me, and Bobbie has begged me to let Spring stay the night even when there isn't a sleepover."
"Yes, they were in Bobbie's room, and the girls were asking her if she had a girl's name. I was passing by Bobbie's room, and when I heard them talking about giving Spring a girl's name, and they mentioned Spring, I said that that was a beautiful girl's name, so everybody here just calls her Spring."
"But why Spring, I mean it is different, but why Spring?"
"After Spring Byington, the actress. I always liked her when she was in a movie. Who knows, maybe your Spring can be a famous actress."
"So, you don't think this is just a phase, then."
"No, I really don't. From what I was told, Spring has been wearing Bobbie's clothes every time she came over here. I know you have definite thoughts about what a boy and a girl are, but if you would like my two cents worth, Spring is a girl in every sense of the word except physically. Please don't be too harsh on her, because right now she is just finding herself."
"Well, I will have to see. I mean, this goes against everything I was taught and up til now, thought I believed in. I mean, if this is what he wants then I guess I will try to be there for him, but physically he's a boy, and people will make fun of him and try to hurt him if they find out he is a male dressing and acting like a girl. I don't want to see him get hurt."
"Mrs. Kelly, I..."
"Just call me Jean."
"Jean, I think that she needs your support more now than ever before. You know, we as women are very vulnerable ourselves just being women. She is just as vulnerable, and that is why she needs your support and love. She is just coming out of her shell and letting us know who she is. We need to accept that Spring is a girl, and it doesn't matter what body type she has, she is a girl.
"I have been watching her all this weekend, and she was having so much fun. She bonded with the girls easily, like she was born female. Jean, if the court will let you, change her name to Spring. Not only will it make her happy, but then she doesn't have to pretend anymore if that is the right word. I don't think she is pretending to be a girl, I think those feelings are deep inside of her, and she is just bringing them out now. The only way to be sure is to have her see someone who is an expert in this kind of life. Be patient with her, Jean, because she is just now learning who she is."
"I will try, and yes, I think maybe he should see somebody who can tell if this is just a phase or not."
"Oh! I think that maybe you should use the feminine pronouns for now. It will make her happy. I think you will see a whole different child than the one you have known."