What Mother Says, Goes

What Mother Says, Goes
by Barbara Lynn Terry

DISCLAIMER: The names, places and events in this story are Fiction. If there are any characters, places, or events in this story that resemble any persons living or dead, places, or any events that, except movie references, resemble any real places or events, IT IS STRICTLY COINCIDENTAL.

Chapter 1 - Discovered.

Mother drove me to school, and when we got within a few blocks, she said. "I am sure I will get a call that you are coming home to change. When that happens, I will deal with the school. You are going to remain dressing like this until you can show me and your father that you are a young man. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, mother."

"Very well, your name while you are dressed like this is Anita, but we will call you Annie. That dress looks very good on you, don't get it torn, wrinkled, or dirty. You behave like I taught you, because until your father and I say different, you are a girl, and you will behave like a young lady. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, mother."

"Good! Well, here we are." She kissed me on the cheek and told me to be a good girl. How did I get in this predicament? Let me tell you. It all started in May of last year.

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"Well class, this is the last day of school. The kids in the big cities have to go until the middle of June. We have a little time, so let's talk about what everyone is going to do this summer."

I raised my hand, and was called on. "I am going to go with my parents to visit my aunt and cousins in another state. This is an all summer thing, where we get to have fun working on a farm." Donnie McAdams was making cow milking motions with his hands. "That is exactly what we will be doing, Donnie, and a lot more. My bigger boy cousins get to clean out the barn when the cows are let out. I get to help with almost everything else, but because I am not a teenager, they won't let me help in the barn." Jennie Masters raised her hand and Miss Saunders called on her.

"Jenny, if you can't help in the barn, what do you do?"

"I help my girl cousins, then I rake the chicken feces up, and throw it in the manure wagon. But when it gets too high, my uncle puts it in the wagon for me. It isn't heavy, but it is exercise."

"That isn't for me," I said, pinching my nose, even though that is what I do.

"I help with the hogs," I added, "feeding them and then I go in the house and help my aunt. It is a fun summer."

"Sounds to me like it is. You may sit down Daryl."

Miss Saunders called on only three others, and then the bell rang. "Have a good summer everyone."

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My name is Daryl Chester Cunningham, I am nine years old, I have long hair down to my shoulders, and my face is oval, and my eyes are big and azure blue. My mother says I have eye lashes to die for, and my voice sounds like my nine year old cousin Mattie. Mattie and I started a secret game when we were six years old. She would dress me up in her dresses, or skirts and blouses. It was fun while it lasted.

One day, while we were in Mattie's room, my mother was walking by, and she peeked in to see how things were going. When she saw me in Mattie's dress, she started yelling. My aunt and father came running only to see what mother saw. My aunt started laughing and telling mother that this was just a phase and it is better to let me act it out, than punish me.

Mother said she was going to punish me, but that she wasn't going to spank me. She was going to make sure I never put on another dress as long as I live when she got done with me. She told me to make a slow turn around so she could see me from all sides. I did just that.

"Are you wearing a slip, young lady?"

"Yes, mother." I lifted the hem of the dress only slightly, like Mattie had shown me, for her to see the hem of the slip underneath.

"Good. Make sure you wear either a full slip or a half slip with your dresses and skirts."

"Yes, mother."

"Are your chores all finished?"

"Yes, mother."

"Then, I will run you a nice bubble bath, and then we can go shopping. You are going to need everything a girl has in her wardrobe, including a small purse to carry on Sundays when we go to church. You wait right here, and I will let you know when your bath is ready. Mattie can she borrow a nice dress to go shopping in?"

"Yes, auntie. She can borrow my lavender sundress and matching blouse. I will get her some underthings out too."

"Thank you, Mattie."

"From now on, young lady, you will dress, act, and live as a girl all the time until you can show me the young man that is my son. I am going to set your hair like a girl's. Do you understand, that starting right now, you are a girl?"

"Yes, mother." My father all this time was silent until now.

"Jennie, he can't be a girl full time. He has to go to school, and they won't let boys go to school dressed as girls."

She gave daddy such a look, that said, 'don't mess with me, Bill'. "I will take care of the school. Since you seem unwilling to punish your son, I will do it for you, my way. For the time being, we have a daughter, not a son. When this young lady decides to be a boy, then I will stop the punishment. Now get in the bathroom, and take your bubble bath. I will wash your hair, and make it look nice."

I went in the bathroom, and she ran the water, putting in a cap full of lavender bubble bath. The whole bathroom soon smelled like violets. Mom helped me unzip Mattie's dress, and I took off the other clothes and got in the tub. Telling me to wash behind my ears, and all over, she left the bathroom. I smiled to myself, knowing that mother is thinking that she is punishing me. I really don't want to stop dressing as a girl, because I feel I am a girl.

I washed my whole body, and then mother came in and washed my hair. She used a lavender shampoo and then she conditioned my hair, washed it again and conditioned it again. My hair was long, and mother was going to do what she wanted with it.

When I got out of the tub, mother showed me how girls wrap the towel around them, and then we went in Mattie's bedroom. I put on the panties and full slip, then mother helped me on with the dress. Then mother started on my hair, and when she was done, I had a kind of bob cut with bangs. Then she made sure I had a nice purse to carry with me, and we went out to the car. After we were buckled in, she backed out of the driveway, and we went to the mall.

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After mom had parked a ways from the food court entrance, we walked the rest of the way. Mom said this was so people could see what a pretty young girl I was. When we got in the mall, mom said she knew of a store that sold young girls fashions and that is where we went.

Mom started looking at dresses, skirts and blouses. Then she held one dress up to me, and told me to go and try it on. She unhooked the top of the dress, and unzipped it. I stepped in to the changing booth, and took off the dress I had on and put on the new one. This was a nice, sunflower yellow dress, with capped sleeves (what you would call puffed) and sewn on lace decorated the edge of the sleeves and the hem of the dress. It came to my knees. I stepped out to show mom, and she said it was a keeper. I now had one dress I could call my own. The next dress was a soft powder blue, and it had a forest scene with animals on the skirt part. It was beautiful and mom said it too was a keeper. I now had two dresses all my own. The third dress was just a plain cream color, and it buttoned in the back, instead of zipped. I now had three dresses that were mine. Next, we went to where the skirts and blouses were, and mom held up a blouse to me to see the dimensions. She said she needed to see it on me, but I needed a bottom to go with it. She looked for a skirt close to the color of the blouse, and told me to go and try them on.

One skirt was a light brown and zipped on the side, and the blouse was also a light brown. The next skirt was very nice, as it was an A-line and twirled around my legs when I turned around. Mother said I would need a little talk before I wore that one to school, or anywhere else. The blouse for this skirt was a back buttoned, white with three quarter sleeves. Mother said I had enough for now.

She took me over to the lingerie department, and she got me three white full slips, three white half slips, three pairs of white, knee high, double knit socks, several pairs of panties in all the colors of the rainbow, and two pairs of shoes. The first pair of shoes were sensible flats for school, and the other was a dress pair with a one inch heel for Sundays and other things we might do as a family.

After we had all my clothes, mom paid for them and said we needed to go home, and put on a fashion show for my father and cousin Mattie. I was thinking okay I will put on a fashion show, but I will do it the way I want to do it. So, on the drive home, mother said nothing. She looked sad more than anything. I was thinking that maybe she thought she did something wrong to make me even start dressing this way. I wasn't going to tell her until I was ready. I wanted to see how far she would take this.

When we drove up to the house, my aunt Caroline and cousin Mattie came out and asked if we needed any help.

"No, I think Annie can get her clothes up to her room by herself."

"Jen, don't you think you're being a little harsh on the boy? I mean, after all he is only nine years old."

"Exactly, and this is the age at which he must learn that boys don't wear dresses, not even to try them on."

"Auntie Jean, we were only playing. I wanted to see how Daryl would look dressed as a girl."

"Then you are as much to blame for this, as anybody. Go on, Annie, get your clothes up to your room."

I took the three bags of clothes to the porch, before cousin Mattie came and took one of them.

"I will help you, cousin." Then she whispered. "Your mom is really angry at us, but mostly you. Are you going to tell her?"

"Not right now, because if she thinks I am not being punished, she will stop this and put her hand across my backside. That would hurt." Mattie nodded her head in agreement.

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Chapter 2. School.

As I walked in to the school, with mother still watching, I got quite a few puzzled looks from not only the people I didn't know, but from my friends as well. When I went in Miss Saunders classroom, she commented on how pretty I looked, and to find a seat. I took one by the windows.

Cathy McMullen, came in and took the seat next to me on my right, and Dawn Biggs took the one in back of me.

Cathy and Dawn were both nine years old, and they both had blonde hair. Cathy asked me why I was wearing a dress.

"Because, when I was at my aunt's house, my cousin Mattie and I were playing dress up, and my mom caught us. She said when I am ready to be a boy and admit that boys don't wear dresses, then she will stop the punishment."

"Do you want her to stop?"

"No, I really don't. My name she gave me while she thinks she is punishing me is Anita, but she calls me Annie."

"Then so will we," Dawn said whispering. "Besides, Annie, you look very pretty as a girl."

"Thank you, Dawn."

"Class, let's settle down now, I am going to take roll call. Dawn Biggs.

"Here."

"Anita Cunningham."

"Here."

"Joseph Dean."

"Here."

When she got to Cathy's name and she said here, Miss Saunders said that takes care of the roll call. There are twenty students in our class this year. But Cathy and Dawn have been my friends since kindergarten. Miss Saunders passed out books for us, for the subjects we were going to be studying. Then she said we were just going to talk today, because she wanted to find out what we did during the summer. This was also a way for the new students to get to know those of us that have been here since kindergarten.

Everybody took a turn, and then when it came my turn, I felt I was turning red.

"Well, I spent my summer at my aunt's farm in northern Wisconsin. We did farm work, and I helped my aunt bake bread and biscuits. Then my mother and I went shopping for new outfits. That was how I spent my summer."

"Thank you, Anita." I raised my hand. "Yes, Anita?"

"Mostly everybody just calls me Annie."

"Alright, Annie, then I will too, thank you."

We read from our reading books, did a little math, studied mountain rock formations in geography, and we even learned there were three parts to our government; the executive, judicial and legislative branches. We were told these different branches have very distinct duties separate from the other.

Miss Saunders was giving us a sort of run on what we were going to be studying tomorrow, when the bell ending the day, rang. I stopped by her desk after everyone but Cathy and Dawn had left.

"Excuse me, Miss Saunders, but you didn't call me by the name I had last year. May I ask why?"

She looked at Cathy and Dawn, and then she said, "because your mother called the school yesterday, telling us what she was doing with you. I agree with the punishment, Annie. You have to learn that boys are very different from girls, and boys don't act like girls, or dress like girls. The school can protect you while you are in the building and on the playground, but once you leave, you are just on your own. Tell me something, young lady. Do you enjoy being dressed as a girl?"

I thought for a moment. If I said yes, Miss Saunders would tell mom and I would get a spanking. If I said no, I would be allowed to be me.

"No, Miss Saunders."

"Then, when you are ready to act like a boy, you let either myself or your mother know."

"Yes, ma'am."

Cathy, Dawn and I, left the school and they walked with me on the way home. It was a good thing they lived only a few blocks away. My house was the first on the way back.

"Annie, why did you tell Miss Saunders you don't like dressing like a girl?"

"Because Cathy, if I had said yes, she would have told my mother and I would get the spanking to end all spankings. So, if I want to continue to dress the way I should, I have to say I don't like wearing dresses. But we all know that I do like it."

"Look, I am having a slumber party this weekend. My mom says I can invite any of my girl friends. Would you like to come?"

"I don't know if I can. I will tell my mother that you invited me, but I don't think she or your mom will say yes."

"It's worth a try."

"Alright, I will tell her. I hope she says yes."

We got to my house, and I asked if they could come in. Cathy said she would just to let my mom know I was invited to her slumber party. She said she was in the kitchen, and Cathy and I went to tell my mom that I was invited to a girl's slumber party.

"I think that is a good idea. Every girl should go to a slumber party or two. I will call your mother, Cathy, and ask her if it is okay with her."

"Thank you, Mrs. Cunnigham.

"You are very welcome, dear. Tell you what. I will call your mother right now and invite the two of you over for dinner tonight. Please sit down and talk to Annie, I will be right back."

When mom had left to call Cathy's mom, Cathy and I talked about how we were going to convince her mother to send her to camp with me.

"Your mother said she will be right over. She was very interested when I told her what was going on."

"Mom, I asked Cathy to ask her mom if Cathy could go to camp with me and Sharon."

"Well, we can ask."

"Mom, she said her father has to inspect his company's factories in the whole country this summer, and Cathy would just be bored to death. Camp would be so much more fun and we could actually do things together."

"Well, we can ask her when she gets here."

It was then that the doorbell rang, and I went to answer it. I opened the door and invited Mrs. McMullen inside. I told her we were all in the kitchen. I hung up her coat in the front hall closet and then we both went to the kitchen. Cathy was very glad to see her mother, and she just couldn't wait to ask her if she could go to camp.

"Mom, Annie has invited me to go to camp with her this summer at the Camp of the Willows. It will be so much more fun than having to follow daddy around the country all summer, and we even can do things together. Please mother, say I can go to camp."

"Slow down, my goodness girl. You're all jitters."

"Yes, I know, mother, but see it would less money and I will be able to make new friends and even learn how to swim better, and ..."

"Whoa, young lady. You're still going too fast. Now, slow down and tell me about this camp."

"Mrs. McMullen, I can tell you about it. It is in the UP and it is an all girls camp. Cabins are assigned by age group, and there is one counselor for four cabins. My sister, Sharon, is going to be a junior counselor there this year. There is a crafts contest that whoever makes the best craft, will get a free summer at camp the next year. They also have swimming classes, and sewing circles, and we also play tennis, badminton, volleyball and even kick ball in our socks in the gym. Sharon said they use an exercise ball so it won't break because of the kicking, and because it is light, we have to kick it with our socks on. We also have a campfire round table just before we have to be to bed. Sharon says that everybody thinks of a story to tell. Some are spooky, some are mushy, and still others are funny. It will be great if Cathy can come with us."

"Is Sharon home, now?"

"No Ma'am, she will be shortly though."

"Alright, I guess we can tallk about this after dinner. But from what you said, Annie, I don't see any reason why Cathy can't go."

"That's great, Mrs. McMullen. All Cathy needs to do is be packed, and here by ... what time again, mom?"

"By seven in the morning. This way we will get there right around lunch time, or just before."

"Hello, everyone," Sharon said, smiling and in a good mood.

"Hi dear. Put your books away and come down. Cathy and her mother are staying for dinner, and we are going to talk about Cathy going to camp with you and Annie."

"Then I need to call the camp, and get Cathy on the list, otherwise her spot will be filled."

"Alright, dear, you do that."

When Sharon came back, she said Cathy was all set, and it was a good thing she pressed the button on the phone to take her call, because the others were lit up too.

"So, you will be going to camp with me and Annie." Cathy and I gave each other a sisterly hug.

"I think I am going to like this summer."

"Well dear, you and Annie go and talk while I help her mother with the dinner."

Cathy and I went in my room and I put in a cd and we listened to Lady Gaga sing Born This Way. It was great. While were doing our version of karaoke and dancing our steps, mom came in and said dinner was ready. I never had so much fun bonding with other girls, other than in school. I guess mom doesn't see this as a punishment anymore, at least I never did. I turned off the cd player and we went down to dinner.

Daddy said grace, and he started passing the food around starting with the meatloaf. We each took a slice, then a serving of mashed potatoes, and then green beans. For dessert mom had made a sort of hybrid Dutch apple pie with cranberries added. She had made this once before and it tasted really good.

While we ate, we told daddy that Cathy was coming to camp with me and Sharon and that this was Cathy's first time at any camp.

"Well, when Sharon went to camp, she brought back a lot of very nice things she made there. She even went to camp for free one summer, because she had the best craft. I think you will like this camp. As for you, young lady, you can still get out of this. All you have to do is say you are a boy and you will dress like a boy and do boy things."

"But daddy, I am a boy, and you and mother are just angry at me because I wanted to see what wearing a dress felt like. Well, since you wanted to punish me mother, by making me be a girl and dress like a girl, I have given this a lot of thought. What would you say if I told you that I love being a girl and that I love dressing like a girl and doing girl things?"

Daddy looked at mom and she at him. Then daddy kind of smiled. "I don't think she is ready yet."

"You are right, dear. She needs more girl time. I'm sure this camp experience will cure her of that."

"I hope you are right."

We sat and ate in silence after that. Cathy winked at me and I winked back when the adults weren't looking. It is too bad they have eyes but don't see who I am and always have been. Oh well, I guess I will have to prove it to them. There is one more week of school, and then seven weeks of camp. That means we have like a week and a half to get whatever I need for camp, like clothes, shoes and whatnot. I would like to have a sewing kit, so I can learn to sew while I am at camp.

After dinner, Cathy and I were asked to help with the dishes and the cleanup. Cathy and I cleared the dining room table and washed it. Then I put a clean table cloth on it. Mom washed, while Cathy dried and Cathy's mom and I put them away. I was really liking being included in the girls circle and being treated as one of them.

I never really understood why men are so big on being a man. I mean they say things like, 'man up' or 'be a man' or even 'take it like a man'. I even overheard daddy tell one of his friends last week that what the friend did was 'unmanly'. Mother told Sharon last year that if you have it, flaunt it. I looked up the word flaunt in the dictionary, and I guess that is what men do, but kind of differently than women. Men are constantly 'pushing' the word man on boys and other men. I wonder why that is?

When the cleanup was finished, Cathy and I went back to my room, and I got a few more cd's out. I like listening to the Jonas Brothers. I just adore that Nick Jonas. What? I'm nine years old, give me a break, will ya. Cathy and I talked about camp, and the fun we were going to have. I went back downstair and asked Sharon if I could show Cathy her camp crafts that she had brought home.

"Yes, Annie, you can. Just show her though and don't touch anything."

"Thank you, I won't."

I went back to my room and took Cathy to show her Sharon's crafts. There was a rock garden that Sharon had built with her cabin and others at camp. Sharon said there was a rock garden that was in the display case in the camp's Ad building from another camper whose name is Allison. There was an afghan that Sharon had made, a silk caftan that she never wore, a wicker weave rocking chair. That one earned her to go to camp for free the next year. Sharon had also made a pennant with the name of the camp on it and a silhouette of a cabin just underneath the camp name.

"She made all of these?"

"Yes, Cathy, she did."

"If Sharon brought home her rock garden, then whose rock garden is in the display case?"

"It was started by a girl named Allison. She got the whole camp involved looking for rocks, and then they all helped in making the design for it and putting it together. It became the camp's rock garden and that is why it is in the display case. No one's name is on that rock garden, because the whole camp, practically, took part in making it. I guess the lady who owns the camp is rich, because she gave the entire camp free passes for the next year. I guess that was because they built something the camp can be proud of. Anyway, when we get there, we can go and take a look at it."

"When was it built?"

"I don't know, Sharon didn't say. Come on, Cathy, let's listen to more cd's."

We went back in my room, and all of a sudden going to camp wasn't scary anymore. I will ask Sharon later if she knows who Allison is. There is only one week left of school and on Monday we turn our books in. The only book I have is a mathematics book, and I have to turn that back in. Next week Friday is the last day of school. Then we have a week and four days before camp starts.

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Chapter 3. The long weekend.

Cathy and I went back down and I asked if Cathy and I could have a weekend sleepover.

"I don't see why not. I will have to bring a few changes of clothes for her. Will she be going to church with you on Sunday?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen."

"Then I will bring her a nice dress to wear. Annie, do you have dress you can wear for church?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen, I do." I looked at the floor like I was embarassed, because mom and Mrs. Saunders think I am being punished.

"Good. You know, Annie, you do make a beautiful girl, if it means anything."

"Please don't say that, Mrs. McMullen."

"But, why not? Did you know you have the right to be who you are."

"Oh don't tell him that, or I will never get him back in to pants. He will continue to be a girl until I say different."

"I see. But what if this isn't just a phase? What if this is who she is, and needs to be?"

"Annie? Is she right? Is this who you are?"

I looked at the floor again, and then at mom and Mrs. McMullen. I didn't want to say yes, because I was afraid that mom would spank me and mom's spanks hard.

"Annie, if you say yes, I promise I won't spank you."

"You, you prom...promise?"

"Yes, dear, I do."

"Then yes, mother, this is who I am. I have always been a girl, and my name isn't Anita, or Annie, it is Susan Marie Cunningham."

"That is a pretty name, dear. My Cathy says you have been wearing her clothes for a long time, when I am not home."

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen. I don't like boy clothes. They make me itch all over, and they feel heavy. Girl clothes don't make me itch and aren't heavy. Even girl jeans are lighter and softer than boy jeans are."

"You know, sweetie, that I have to take you to see a specialist. I want to make sure this is what you want."

"Mother, may I ask why it is, when a girl wears a dress nobody says anything, but let a girl like me evenlook at dress like we like wearing it, and all of a sudden we have to see a specialist? I don't understand why that is."

"Well, when you are born a male, society says you should grow up to be a man. But there are some who can never be men, because their brain doesn't think like a boy's brain does. You think like a girl does, and you want girl things, and do girl things. The reason you have to see a specialist, is because some boys who think like boys just want to dress like girls for attention. Since I have had you in dresses full time, you have done nothing but think like a girl and do girl things. So, yes, I have to get you in to see a specialist. But don't worry, sweetie, I will find someone who knows about these things."

"Promise?"

"Yes, dear, I promise."

Okay, so who are you and what have you done with my mother?" I heard that in school from one of the sixth graders. Mom was not being herself. I wonder what made her change all of a sudden. Well, I am not going to think too much about it, I am just going to enjoy being a girl, while I can.

We all decided to watch television before it was time for bed. My Fair Lady was coming on. This is where Rex Harrison plays a college professor who bets he can make a flower girl into a lady of breeding. Audrey Hepburn plays the enigmatic Eliza, who tries so very hard to say, "The Rain In Spain". As I watched this movie, I actually learned that you can come from a different background and become a floating butterfly. As I istened to Audrey Hepburn say, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain..." and it was becoming easier each time she said, I was fascinated by the way that Rex Harrison taught Eliza to be a lady. I figured if Eliza can become a lady, then so can I.

I really learned something from watching this movie. When it was over, it was time for bed. I loaned Cathy one of my nightgowns, and we went to get our baths and then get in bed. That night I dreamed that mom was Professor Higgins, only as a woman, and I was Eliza Doolittle, and she was teaching me to not only be a girl, but how to be a lady as well. I dreamt that I was at a ball, in a fancy gown, and I was dancing a waltz with a handsome man. Just as the dance was over, and he was about to kiss me, I woke up.

I couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to get my bath in, and this time, I was going to enjoy being a girl. When I came back from taking my bath, Cathy was awake.

"Good morning, Sue."

"Good morning, Cathy."

"I wonder if my mom can get my name to be Susan Marie for always."

"You should ask her. I'm not sure how they do that, but I have heard that some people do change their names. Get dressed while I take my bath."

I got out a pair of panties, a camisole, a pair of jeans, and a white, button down the front, shirt. The shirt was made to be tucked in. I got my black Mary Jane's and a pair of anklets. I was dressed by the time Cathy came back from taking her bath.

Mrs. McMullen hadn't brought Cathy's clothes over yet, so I let her borrow some of mine. She wanted to be dressed the same way I was. She took her towel and put it at the foot of the bed, and then began dressing, while I brushed my hair. Girls aren't afraid to change in front of other girls. When Cathy was dressed, we went down to the kitchen.

Mom was already making breakfast, so I got out the milk and juice. We were going to have pancakes and sausages, with toast. I never really did eat too much, so I had only one pancake, one slice of toast, one sausage, a glass of milk and a glass of orange juice. Cathy had the same.

"You two must be related, because you eat like girls, but do it like sisters."

"Yes, mother, Cathy has always been my sister."

"That is great, Ann...uhm...Susan. So what did you girls have in mind for today?"

"Can we go shopping?"

"Yes, Susan, we can. Where would you like to go?"

"I need a new dress for when I have to go to a dance."

"A dance! My lord, girl, where would you go to a dance at?"

"Well, you never know, mother, and there might be handsome boys there too."

"Wait just one minute, young lady. You are not old enough to have a boyfriend, and how do you know about handsome boys."

"I was dreaming last night that you were Professor Higgins, only as woman, and I was Eliza Doolittle, and you were teaching me how to be a girl and a lady. I learned by watching My Fair Lady, that a person can come from a different background and still be a beautiful butterfly."

"You learned all of that from just watching a movie? Are you sure you're only nine years old?"

I giggled. "Yes, mother, I am only nine years old."

"I wonder, sometimes."

After breakfast, we all helped clean up the kitchen, and when the dishes were put away, we sat down and talked about our shopping excursion, as mom called it. While we were talking, the doorbell rang. Mom went to answer it, and it was Cathy's mother with her clothes for the weekend.

"Would you like some coffee? We were just talking about doing a shopping excursion for today."

"Well, am I invited to go along on this shopping excursion?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen, you are." Then I just thought of the tune We Three Kings of Orient Are, and I started to imitate the tune only with different words. "We four girls of the cul-de-sac are, spreading joy where ever we go."

"Did you just think that up, Susan?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen."

"That was good, and you have a nice high singing voice too. Did you ever take voice or singing lessons?"

"No, I haven't."

"You, young lady, are a natural, as they say. I wonder how you would sound if you sang to music?"

"Sometimes, when I am in my room, I sing along with the songs. I try to imitate the girl's voice in the song."

"Do you like to sing, Susan?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen. Sometimes I pretend that my hairbrush is a microphone and I am singing in to it."

"I have done that, when I was a little girl. Wow, I am impressed that being so young, you have, what sounds like to me, a trained voice without the lessons. Like I said, you are a natural."

"Thank you, Mrs. McMullen."

"You're very welcome, dear."

"You know something? I don't think we gave each other our names. I'm Jennifer, but my friends call me Jen, except my husband who calls me Jennie."

"I'm Jeannette, and everybody just calls me Jean. So, girls, where did you want to go on this shopping excursion?"

"Where all girls go. To the mall."

"Oh yes, our second home. Well, which Mall were you thinking of?"

"I was thinking that we could go to Southridge. They have a lot of stores that have nice necklaces and earrings, that are nice, but don't cost a lot. Then I was thinking that maybe you could get me some more skirts and dresses. Maybe a few more pairs of jeans and shirts. Then we could stop for lunch, and shop in the stores we missed."

"The man that marries you had better be rich, because you cost a fortune."

"I heard that is what girls are supposed to do."

"Well, yes, dear, that is what we are supposed to do. We also stand by the door on pay day and make sure our husbands hand over the money."

"Hey! I resemble that remark," daddy said with a smile as he kissed mom on the cheek. "Good morning, dear. Good morning, Annie, Cathy and uhm..."

"Dear, this is Jean, she is Cathy's mother. This hunk ... well, he was a hunk when I married him, is Bill."

"Are you saying I am getting a little uhm non uhm hunkish?"

"Why not at all, dear, except maybe a little time pushing the lawnmower instead of riding one, would be better exercise." Mom giggled. "By the way, dear, This isn't Annie any more, this is Susan Marie Cunningham, and she is going to be our permanent daughter."

"Women! I wish one of you two would make up my mind."

"Daddy, do you like my name?"

"Yes, punkin, I do."

I got up on his lap, and he just gave me a hug and a kiss on top of my head. I got off of his lap, and mom, Sharon, Cathy, Mrs. McMullen and I went out to the car, telling daddy we were going to have a girl's day out.

"Have fun, just make sure you don't break me. I would like to know I have at least a penny left."

"A shiny new penny, or just any penny?"

"Funny, you are one funny lady, Jennie."

We all got in the car, and after being buckled in, we headed for Southridge. Southridge is located on the far south side of the county in the suburb of Greendale. It has two floors, and lots and lots of shops and stores that a girl could actually get lost in and lose track of time. This was the idea. In the center of the second floor, is the Piercing Pagoda, where they pierce your ears for free when you buy the studs. All of their earrings and studs are hypoallergenic.

When mom had parked the car, and we got in by the food court entrance, I asked if I could get my ears pierced.

"Do you really want them pierced, dear?"

"Yes,mother, I do. All of the girls at school have theirs pierced." I showed her Cathy's ears. "See, mother, even Cathy has her ears pierced."

"All right, I guess you can get them pierced. But you know you have to keep them clean, especially the holes. You can't take the studs out for at least six weeks, but I will show you how to keep the holes and the posts of the studs clean, even while you are wearing them. Where do they pierce ears?"

"Upstairs, by the center staircase."

"That is quite a ways to go for just piercing ears."

"They also have nice earrings and studs, too. All of them are hypoallergenic."

"Hypoallergenic! Where did you learn that word from?"

"From Dawn Biggs who sits in front of me in school. She said hypoallergenic earrings and studs won't irritate or infect my ears. She said that when I get my ears pierced to make sure I always buy hypoallergenic earrings, even the ones with the hook."

"The hook? Oh! You mean, like mine?"

"Yes."

When we got to the Piercing Pagoda, there was a woman working there, who said she was working her way through college. She had raven black hair that shined, and she wore really nice dress pants and a matching shirt.

"What is your name, dear?"

"Susan."

"I like that name. I'm Debbie. Now, this won't hurt. You will feel a little pressure but it doesn't hurt."

She took something that looked like a giant stapler, then she put the backing for one stud in one side of it, and the stud in the other. Then she put on my ear, and I heard a pip, and the stud was in. She did the same with the other ear, and I was now the proud owner of my very own earrings. Mom also bought three pairs of hoops for when the holes in my ears healed up. Debbie had shown me how to care for my new earrings, and said I needed to keep them in at least six weeks, but that the holes should be healed by not more than eight weeks.

We left the Piercing Pagoda and we went to the back to the photo booth, because mom wanted a picture of me with my new studs in my ears. Cathy came in the photo booth with me, and mom put the money in, and the machine started taking our pictures. After the machine had stoppped, we stood by the machine and waited for the pictures.

When the pictures came in the little chute thing, mom looked at them and went in a store and asked the lady at the counter is she could use a scissors. Mom cut the picture off of the four and put it in her purse. Then she cut two more off, and gave one to me and one to Cathy. The other one was for Sharon.

When we left from the photo booth, we started going from store to store. We stopped at one store that had a nice dress in the window, that if it was in my size, I would like to have. As we got to the rack, there were only three dresses in the style, four if you counted the one in the window. The sales lady came over.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, my daughter saw this dress in the window, but I don't see her size."

"What size is she?"

"A size 4, girls."

"Please wait right here." She went in the back and came back a few minutes later. "This is the last one in her size. We were holding for someone, but they didn't put any money down, so it is yours."

We went in the changing booth and I tried the dress on. It fit perfectly. Mom paid the lady, and we left the store on our shopping excursion. Mom seemed to be thinking, and said I would need the right shoes for the dress. We stopped at a store that was just called The Shoe Boutique. These shoes cost a lot more than at Payless. I went in, and mom grabbed a pair of those try on stockings they have for you. I tried a pair of black Mary Jane's on, and they had a slightly raised heel. Mom paid the lady, and we left that store.

The next few stores had clothes you would wear while camping, but I was going to an all girls camp, so I think a few pairs of jeans, a few skirts, and maybe four dresses and one party dress for the last day party, before we all left for home. Mother also picked up a one piece bathing suit for me. There was nothing special about it, just a normal one piece that is silver with wide, gold stripes coming from the back of each shoulder to the front bottom of each leg opening.

We went from store to store. That's what you do on a shopping excursion. You don't have to buy things in every store, but the fun is going in and seeing what they have. You never know if you want to buy something unless you go in the store.

In several stores I tried on dresses, skirts, blouses, and shoes, but we didn't buy anything, mom saying she would think about it. We ended up at J. C. Penny and mom said this would be a good place as any to get my jeans. Mom picked out several pairs, some in different colors. There were pink jeans, blue jeans, green jeans, gold jeans and even a pair of black jeans. I tried them all on, and mom bought the pink, green, two pairs of the black jeans, and three pair of the blue jeans.

As I said before, girls jeans are a lighter denim and they have a stretch material added. Mom said this was so they fit better than boy jeans that didn't have a stretch material and were heavier. It was almost time to have lunch, so we took what we bought out to the car and put it in the trunk. We made sure that we knew where the car was parked again, and went back in the mall.

We stood in line at the BK stand, and when we got to the counter, mom ordered BK fish meals for all of us. We decided to take the french fries home for daddy. I ate half of the sandwich and we all took our sodas home with us. Mom said she was tired, and it was really not good to waste all these good stores on just one day. We could come back next week end and start where we left off. I had a lot of fun, though. When we were in the car and buckled in, mom drove home.

"Did everybody have fun?"

"Yes, Mrs. Cunningham. Mom bought me a new dress and a pair of shoes."

"That's great, Cathy." I saw mom look at the rear view mirror and smile. I guess she was smiling at Cathy's mom as some kind of signal.

When we got home, we took my things to my room, and Cathy and I put them away. My closet space was filling up very fast, but a girl never has enough clothes. I set my new shoes, still in the box, on the closet floor, and hung my dresses up, along with my skirts and blouses. You never keep skirts in a dresser drawer, because they could get permanent creases in them, and then you would have to iron them out. I learned a lot from my girl friends, who knew I was a girl when we were five.

After I put my clothes away, we went downstairs to watch television. We beat daddy to the television so we could watch our programs. Daddy only wanted to watch pre-season baseball. When mom decided to punish me for playing dress up, daddy stopped trying to get me to sit with him through a game. Not that I don't like sports, but baseball, football, basketball, ice hockey, auto racing and soccer are not what I like. Being only nine years old, I couldn't play what I wanted to play, because I wasn't tall enough. I wanted so much to be able to play tennis. It doesn't have anybody there that will jump on you, kick a ball in your face, or hit you with a fast car.

"So I guess this means I have to watch the game in the rec room."

"Yes, daddy, thank you."

"Girls! Why couldn't we have had a boy?"

I was thinking, maybe he was thinking a boy that wanted to be a boy. I guess I fit in as a girl, since I told mother this how I want to stay. Mother was talking to Cathy's mom, who, by the way, worked as a secretary in a psychiatrist's office. I don't know what they talked about and I really wasn't interested. Today is Saturday. This coming Friday is the last day of school.

I was wondering what we were going to do for this last week, this year. Last year we just sat and talked about how we were going to spend our summers. We might be doing that again this year. I wasn't going to think about that right now, though. The movie that was coming on was one mother said she had seen more than once. Old Yeller was coming on, and I had never seen it before. It starred Fess Parker and Dorothy McGuire. Jeff York played a funny guy who was left behind to watch over the settlement. Beverly Washburn played his daughter and he had her doing all the heavy lifting. I was so mad that he would make her do that, and at the same time it was funny the way he told her to do it. Dorothy McGuire reminded him that she was just a little girl, but I don't think he got the message that was intended. Then the saddest part of the movie came when Tommy Kirk had to shoot Old Yeller because Old Yeller had gotten hydrophobia (rabies) from fighting a wolf. Mom handed me the tissues, and we sat and cried together. Mom said no matter how many times she had seen this movie, she always cried at this part.

When the movie was over, it was time to start getting dinner ready. It was four o'clock, and we ate dinner at about five thirty or six o'clock, depending on if daddy was watching a game. We all helped get the things ready. Cathy peeled the carrots, I peeled the potatoes, Cathy's mom made the salad, and mother was seasoning the steaks, after she had rinsed them off. We never bought canned vegetables, always frozen in the bag or fresh. We would leave them until the meat and potatoes were almost done. Mom always let me mashed the potatoes down, we never bought instant, and make them taste good. She taught me how, even before the punishment, but I practiced and knew how to put in the right amount of milk and butter to make them taste like they were made by a chef.

The potatoes, being bulk, would take longer than the meat, so I got out a four quart pot, filled more than half way with water, and set it on the stove to boil. It is not proper, mother said, to turn up the flame to get the water to boil faster, because then you burn the bottom of the pot. Did you ever try to wash off the burnt part of the pan to get it back the way you had bought it? Daddy said one time, when he came in the kitchen, that if our pans were the way mom was saying, we would need sandpaper to get the burnt color and smell off of the pan.

While the water was boiling for the potatoes, we sat at the kitchen table and talked.

"Susan, if I can arrange it, and your mother says it is okay, would you like to see the doctor I work for? She is really pleasant, and she can even see you on Saturday."

"I suppose so."

"Well, your mother and I were talking, and Cathy has even told me too, that you have always been a girl when you were younger and played with the girls. Cathy told me it was something you felt comfortable with being. Is that true?"

"Yes, Mrs. McMullen. I was afraid of saying anything to mom about it, because I knew what she would say. You know, like when she caught me wearing my cousin's clothes."

"All right, I will ask her to come over. She is a nice lady and you will like her. Then maybe, if she says everything is okay, your mother can get your name changed to be Susan Marie forever." Would you like that?"

"Yes."

"Good."

I got up to see if the water was boiling, and it was. I put in the cut up potatoes, and put the cover over the pot. Did you know that when the pot or pan is covered, the food keeps most of its flavor? It would take about twenty minutes for the potatoes to be ready to mash. This is why dinner has to be started around four o'clock or four thirty. Like I said it depends on if daddy is watching a game. We have eaten as late as seven, but that was because daddy was watching the Green Bay Slackers, I mean Packers.

Anyway, Cathy's mother had given me something to think about. Having my name to be Susan Marie forever would be great. Maybe then I can go to school as Susan Marie without having to think about who I am supposed to be when I am in school. There were several times I almost turned my papers in to Miss Saunders with the name Susan on them. But I stopped, short of putting that name on the paper.

Anyway, mom put the meat in the oven, and we waited for the meat and potatoes to be done. Then we could get everything else out. We had a dining room, and I didn't think we needed to use it. There was only five of us, and six could sit at the kitchen table.

The potatoes and meat were done at almost the same time, and mother put the meat on a serving platter, and put the potatoes in a bowl and gave me the masher and whip. I mashed them pretty good, so there would be no lumps, and then after adding the milk and margarine, I whipped the potatoes until they were smooth. All the while, Cathy's mom was watching me.

When Cathy's mother had everything on her plate, she tasted the potatoes.

"Susan, these are very delicious. Where did you learn how to do this?"

"Mother taught me. Everytime I made the potatoes, I practiced more and more to get them the way they are now."

"Well, young lady, you did a wonderful job."

"Thank you, Mrs. McMullen."

We talked about our shopping excursion, and how much fun we had. Mom and Mrs. McMullen were talking and Cathy and I were talking with each other. When dinner was finished, Daddy was the first to make his excuses and leave the table. Except for daddy, of course, the rest of us cleaned up the kitchen and dinner dishes. Mom cleaned off the stove. When everything was done, we all went in the living room. Daddy was just sitting there in his favorite chair, reading the evening newspaper.

"Are you going to watch anything special, dear?" Mother asked daddy.

"Not really. I thought I would go and hang around with the fellas tonight for a bit."

"Alright, dear, you have a good time."

Daddy set his paper aside, and said he would be back but nine. Mother said that was good, because there was a lot that needed to be worked out about me.

"Susan, I think, for myself, that seeing this lady that Jean works for, is a good idea. This way, nobody can you're just doing this for attention."

"Thank you, daddy." He smiled, then left for what he called, 'the club'.

"Well, ladies, it looks like we have the house to ourselves. Do we want to watch television, or play a card game or maybe a board game? Cathy and I shouted, 'Monopoly'.

Our moms giggle and mom said "Monopoly it is."

"I'm the car," Cathy said immediately.

"I'm always the thimble," I said with a beaming smile.

When we all had our pieces, we all rolled the dice to see who went first. Cathy went first, then me, then mom, then Cathy's mom. Cathy rolled and landed on Marvins Gardens, which she immediately bought. I rolled and landed right next to her, which I immediately bought. That separated the two properties in a group from being monopolized. After you play Monopoly quite a bit, you learn those big words. Of course, everybody says I'm smarter than my years. I don't know, there is a lot I don't know, but then there is a lot I do. I read a lot, so there are words I look up in the dictionary.

The game went on for about an hour, with mom winning. That was because she had all of the properties, mostly, and most of the money.

So I guess mom now accepts me as her daughter, even though I think secretly she wanted a daughter all along. Daddy? Well, he is still a little confused but we will work on him.



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