My Mum Turned Me Into A Girl
My mum turned me into a girl. Well, actually it was her new friend, Alison, but my mum played along and being my mum she has to take the blame. Looking back I realised that Alison and my mum were very clever. I didn't see it coming and by the time I did, it was too late. It started when I was nine years old and by the time I was ten you could say that their mission was pretty much accomplished.
I know three facts and have one opinion about what happened to me. Fact one was that my mum and dad split up when I was five or six. It didn't really affect me. Mum and me got along just fine and I saw my dad from time to time, weekends usually and the ones when he wasn't working, so, although I didn't see a lot of him, there was no big problem to deal with and mum and him got along just fine too when they had to sort out anything to do with me. It's important to know that I was a good boy. I always did as I was told. That is fact two!
Fact three is that my life changed when Alison, entered our lives. Actually, I should say, 'Alison and her daughter, Hannah, entered our lives', since they came as a pair and an 'empowered' pair to use Alison's favourite word. To start with it was a lot of fun having Alison around. She was a larger than life character, always thinking up new things for us to do, new places to visit. We never had so many days out. And to be honest I quite liked having Hannah around as well. It was like a new sister had arrived. She was the same age as me and we played quite well together, never really falling out. We always played games that both boys and girls could play without feeling stupid. This was a rule we had made when they started visiting. I didn't get out my soldiers or what Alison called my 'aggressive computer games' and Hannah didn't bring her dolls. The only problem was that I wasn't allowed to play with Josh when Hannah was at our house.
"Oliver can't play today Josh dear" I heard my mum say at the front door. "We've got visitors for the weekend. He'll see you at school on Monday".
"Why can't Josh play too?" I asked her when she closed the door.
"It isn't fair on Hannah" she replied. I didn't ever argue with my mum, not because she was strict but because… well, I just never did. I did sulk, though, if I didn't like something and I sulked the day that Josh got turned away. And to make the point I told Hannah I wasn't in the mood to play with her and mooched upstairs to my room. I wouldn't dare storm up the stairs which is why I heard the conversation that followed.
"You see, Judy" I heard Alison say.
"He's just like any nine year old. He wants his own way and gets upset when he can't have it," my mum replied.
"Yes, they all start out like that and look what happens. Take my advice and act while you can."
"Oh I think I you're making too much of it. He's fine."
"Judy, Judy, I hope you're right my dear but if you would just listen to me… " which was all I heard as Alison walked to the kitchen and out of earshot.
Something about the way Alison spoke worried me. So did the fact that I knew she was talking about me and had obviously formed a strong opinion about something I did or didn't do. My opinion? Well, you'll have to wait for that.
Although that conversation worried me, Alison never gave me any cause to be afraid of her. She was always really friendly. After twenty minutes or so she came upstairs to find me on my own in my room. I was playing on my Play Station and felt immediately self- conscious about the game when she entered my room. Too much killing for her, I thought.
"Alright Ollie? Are you feeling a bit sad on your own?" she asked in her bright, 'let's have fun voice' that I usually liked so much.
"Not really, I just wanted Josh to play," I replied feeling a bit pathetic in the face of her breezy personality.
"Ah dear, poor thing. Hannah's feeling sad too. She came here to play with you and doesn't really understand why she's being ignored."
"I'm not ignoring her"
"But you're not playing with her. You're practising killing people instead aren't you?" There was a slight edge to her voice when she said this last bit but the smile never left her face.
"I'm just coming down now," I said as I packed up my game.
"Lovely!" Alison stood, smiled at me but with a 'look' in her eye that reminded me that she had definite opinions about me and I wasn't sure I wanted to now what they were.
When I got downstairs Hannah was practising ballet moves. I slumped on the sofa waiting for her to finish. She was good. My mum was watching in wide-eyed amazement. "I had no idea you were so good" she said.
"I don't get to practise when I come around here," Hannah answered. "Mum said it wouldn't be fair on Ollie."
"Oh Ollie won't mind will you Ollie?"
I didn't know what to say. I really didn't mind her doing her ballet steps but I'd come down to play. Alison made me think Hannah was downstairs waiting for me.
"Join in, Ollie." Alison said.
"No, " I said a little too quickly because it sounded almost defiant. It wasn't, it was more embarrassed.
"Ollie!" I had spoken sharply and Mum was shocked. She looked hard at me as if she was seeing something for the first time.
"Alright, but I don't know what to do," I said getting up from the sofa.
"Take your slippers off first, then follow what I do, "Hannah said. So I did. It wasn't easy, not as easy as Hannah made it look but I did get better and it was fun.
"You're really good," Alison said. "You should go to ballet lessons. Hannah will take you"
"Oh go on, Ollie," Hannah joined in.
"No thanks," I said. I couldn't face being laughed at. I didn't mind pretending with Hannah privately at home but I didn't want anyone finding out, even though it was fun. At one stage I tried to keep my left leg in the air as long as Hannah could. She had her leg right up high but I couldn't manage it. I laughed as I tried to keep my balance and my mum laughed and Hannah and Alison joined in. We were all laughing and when I collapsed on the floor it was as if it was the funniest thing in the world. Well that just led to other things and we were soon trying out jumps and I tried a twirl which I couldn't do properly at all. We were having so much fun that I didn't hear my mum leave the room and I only noticed when I heard her on the phone.
"Hello Josh. It's Ollie's mummy." Mummy? Since when had she been mummy? I always called her 'mum'. "Would you like to come round and play? Hannah and Ollie are doing their ballet practice. I'm sure they won't mind if you want to join them. No? Okay then dear." I heard the phone go down and mum came in. "Ollie, I called Josh but he's busy. He'll see you at school on Monday," she told me.
"Why did you phone him?"
"Well I thought you could all play together as you and Hannah are getting on so well."
"Yes but why tell him I was doing ballet?" I asked in a hurt voice making sure I wasn't too loud even though I wanted to scream at her. It would be all around school in no time.
"You are doing ballet Ollie," Alison replied. "Did you expect your mummy to tell a lie?" Mummy again!
"Josh didn't need to know," I said.
"Is there something wrong with ballet, Ollie?" Alison asked.
"Didn't you have fun?"
I didn't wan to answer so Alison just repeated the question.
"Yes, I did but…"
"Well, I'm confused aren't you Judy?" Alison looked at my um in a 'told you so' way.
"It's just that boys don't really do ballet…" I suggested weakly.
"But you're a boy and you were doing it," Alison replied. Everything she said sounded so reasonable but I felt trapped. It was as if she was being too clever for me.
"It's just that Josh will tell everyone at school and they'll laugh and…" I looked around. I didn't seem to be convincing anyone.
"I thought Josh was your friend," Alison said.
"Your best friend?"
"Then why should he want to make fun of you? If he does that he isn't much of a friend." She was too clever for me.
When Alison and Hannah left that evening I could tell that my mum was annoyed with me. She didn't say anything but she was not happy with me. I could always tell. While we were watching television she gave me strange looks out of the corner of her eye when she thought I wasn't looking. There was none of the fun of watching a programme together when we would laugh at or share comments. When she finally got around to speaking to me there was an edge to her voice she seemed to have picked up from Alison, but there was no smile.
"I'm ashamed of the way you behaved today. You were so ungrateful."
"I'm sorry," I said keeping my eyes fixed on the carpet. I didn't want her to see my eyes filling with tears. I couldn't bear her being cross with me and she was so seldom cross that it always upset me when she was.
"Alison and Hannah come around here and spend time with us, the least you could do would be to make them welcome."
"You didn't today. All that fuss about ballet."
"I joined in with the ballet. I just didn't want Josh to know."
"You don't want Josh to know what? That you were having fun? That Hannah is a good friend?"
I didn't say anything. I didn't understand why it wasn't obvious to my mum that school would be terrible if everyone found out.
"Well, I hope you are better behaved tomorrow," she continued. Hannah and Alison are coming round and I shall expect you to tell Hannah yourself that you want to practise ballet. That might make her feel better about the events of today. It is the least you can do. Understand?"
"Yes, mum," I said weakly.
"Yes, Mummy!" she corrected me. 'Mummy' again. She never expected me to call her that.
"Yes, mummy," I said.
The next day I did as I was told almost as soon as Hannah was through the door. "I told you he enjoyed it Hannah," said Alison, laughing. "Poor Hannah thought she upset you by making you join in."
My mum looked across at me.
"She didn't make me. I wanted to try it," I said. "I really liked it."
"Why don't you two run along and play?" said Alison, "so that Judy and me can have a little chat and make some plans." She laughed as she guided my mum to the kitchen and Hannah led me upstairs.
"Oh Ollie, I'm so glad you want to dance. We can practice together and be partners," Hannah gushed as we went into my room. "Why don't you join my dance class?" she continued.
"I don't think I'm good enough yet," I stalled.
"You are brilliant," she replied. I didn't want another falling out with my mum and I was glad that Alison wasn't around to overhear or I was sure she would have trapped me into something else I didn't want to do.
"Tell you what," I said, "When I'm good enough I'll join but let's keep it a secret so that we can surprise our mums."
"Oh Ollie, that's a brilliant plan," Hannah said. She then took out two black leotards from her bag. She handed one to me. "Mummy said you could have my spare leotard so I brought it along."
"This is for me?" I said as I stared at the leotard dangling from her hand.
"Its better to have these. We can move more easily."
"Don't boys wear tights and a T shirt?" I asked.
"When you start classes I'm sure your mum will buy you the right things." She replied.
I hesitated holding the leotard not quite sure what to do next. Hannah undressed down to her knickers and put her leotard on. I was frozen with confusion not only because Hannah had got undressed in front of me without any embarrassment but also because I was obviously expected to wear the girl's leotard she had leant me. I couldn't face another falling out with my mum so I slowly started to undo my trousers. I pulled the leotard up and stretched it over my left shoulder but it was too tight. I thought if I continued I would rip it so with a large amount of relief I took it off again.
"Oh Ollie, I'm sorry," she said looking crestfallen. "It's my old one and I have grown a bit since then."
"It doesn't matter," I said trying to sound sorry. At least I had tried and my mum couldn't blame me for the leotard being too small. Hannah, though, had rushed off downstairs with the sad news. I got dressed again but mum and Alison were in my room before I got my sweatshirt back on.
"Oh Ollie, I'm sorry. I thought it might be a bit small," Alison said.
"Its okay," I said.
"So I brought another in case. Try this one!" Alison said with just a hint of command in her voice taking a brand new leotard out of her plastic shopping bag.
I stared at it and knew I had been cornered again. I dropped my trousers for a second time and reluctantly stepped into the new leotard. It was a perfect fit. I somehow knew it would be.
"Is it okay?" Alison asked.
"Yes, it fits," I said.
"Come here then," she said and snipped the price tag off. "We wanted to be sure in case it had to go back but as it is such a perfect fit..." She stepped back to admire me standing in front of them in my leotard feeling very silly indeed.
"Come on Ollie, let's dance," said Hannah grabbing me by the hand and leading me away but not before I heard my mum say to Alison, "I'll settle up with you before you go."
To be honest, I forgot about feeling silly in the leotard all the while we were dancing. Hannah could be great fun to be with even though she was a girl and I didn't normally play with girls. She had the same infectious laugh as her mother and, I noticed, the same knack for getting her own way. We were giggling like… well, like girls… in no time. When we stopped for lunch we didn't bother to get changed and it was only when mum and Alison set up the table in the garden that I again became self- conscious about wearing a girl's leotard. I didn't want the neighbours to see me. I was already worrying about what Josh was going to say at school on Monday.
"I'll eat in the kitchen," I said, even though I knew it was a waste of time.
"You'll eat with us!" my mum retorted and I tried to slide onto the patio so that no one would notice me. As soon as I was seated I felt better. From a distance it probably looked like I was wearing a T- shirt- a T- shirt with a low neck but that was okay. Mr Thomas, our next -door neighbour on the right, was in his garden. I had known him ever for as long as I could remember and I was always going around his house with food my mum had cooked for him. He was an old soldier and I loved hearing his stories about places in the world he had visited and the things he had seen. It was because of him that I wanted to be a soldier when I grew up. He even called me 'Soldier'. It was like a little joke between us. At first he didn't see us but mum called to him and asked him if he wanted any of her carrot cake. He loved my mum's cooking and, as he lived alone, my mum liked to bake for him.
"Ollie, take some cake over to Mr Thomas," mum commanded.
"Hannah's closer," I replied and then regretted it because the look she shot me got me out of the chair as quick as anything.
"Can I get changed first?" I asked.
"Don't be silly, he's only over there," mum replied. I then had to walk across the garden in full view of Mr Thomas wearing the leotard. I was conscious of how long my legs looked and the fact that I had very little covering me.
"Hello soldier. Are you playing dressing up?" Mr Thomas asked not quite disguising the disapproval in his voice.
"We're doing ballet," Hannah replied breezily. I hadn't seen her arrive behind me.
"Ballet eh! I didn't know you went to ballet, soldier."
"I don't," I started to explain but Hannah interrupted,
"He's really good. My mum says he's as graceful as a girl."
I stared at her. I didn't know Alison had said that.
"We're becoming the terrible twins, or that is what my mum says," Hannah continued. I then went red. I hated the fact that she was announcing all this to the man who told me great stories about his life in the army.
"We had better go," I said trying to get away from the fence. It was horrible that Mr Thomas had seen me dressed like this and I wanted to get away as quickly as possible. This was all too embarrassing. I actually thought for a moment that it might be better to ask if I could go to a ballet class as then at least I would get to wear what boys wear. I didn't dwell on this though.
"Goodbye young miss and goodbye Oliver. Thank your mother for the cake for me." Hannah skipped away. I walked back across the lawn trying hard to think it wasn't significant that Mr Thomas had called me Oliver rather than soldier.
I wore the leotard all day. I tried to get changed back several times during the afternoon but each time Hannah insisted we kept them on in case we did some more ballet. I didn't want to but neither did I want to upset Hannah or her mother. I knew my mum was watching me…and listening to what I said. I didn't give her any reason to be cross with me again. At one stage I was so fed up with trying to pull the leotard down and stop it riding up over my bottom that I said, "I wish I had tights on."
"We should get you some," Hannah said.
"I can't see my mum buying me tights," I said. Which was true, I couldn't.
The biggest shock came at the end of the day, though, when Alison and Hannah were leaving. Mum called me down to say goodbye.
"I'll give you back the leotard," I said wanting to give it back.
"Don't be silly dear," said Alison, "That's yours to keep. Your mummy paid for it. See you next weekend" and she kissed me on the cheek as they left.
I was stunned. I had my own leotard. What was I going to do with it? Would I have to wear it again? I decided I had to ask my mum even though I knew it might cause a row.
"Why have I got a leotard?"
"What a stupid question. If you want to do ballet you need to wear a leotard."
"But don't boys wear tights and t shirts instead?"
"Yes, I think the boys do" she said as she went off to do the washing up.
Why did she say 'the boys' like that? And what did I need a leotard for?
The answer to that second question came on Monday at school. Josh, like a good friend, didn't tell anyone about my ballet dancing but he was a little cool when I approached him on the way to school.
"Hi," he said without stopping.
"Did you have fun with your girlfriend?"
"She's not my girlfriend Josh. Her mum is a friend of my mum that's all."
"And you've started ballet?" he asked.
"No. I was just joining in for fun, sort of making fun of it." This satisfied him and he didn't mention it again. He didn't have to.
When it was time for PE I collected my bag to get my kit out. It wasn't there. What was there instead was my leotard. I swallowed hard.
Perhaps the best thing would be to pretend I had forgotten my kit. That seemed best. I turned just as Mrs Vincent our teacher was declaring loudly, "And if anyone had forgotten their PE kit it is a letter home because I'm fed up with excuses."
There was no point going ahead with that plan. My mum would explode if she found out, especially as she had swapped my usual kit for the leotard. I decided to tell Miss the truth. So I did.
"What you are telling me then Oliver is that you have a leotard to wear for PE today?" she said when I had explained.
"Fine. We're doing gymnastics. It will be perfect," she replied.
"But Miss, everyone will laugh at me," I offered weakly.
She sighed deeply. I took this as a sign of sympathy so was surprised when she stopped the whole class so that she had their attention.
"Listen everyone. Oliver has a leotard to wear today and he thinks you will all laugh at him. Does anyone here find that funny?" She looked around the room at the class, which included my friends, all shaking their heads to suggest that no one would find that funny. Not that they would dare with Miss looking on. I was shocked that she had been so blunt.
"There we are Oliver! No one is going to laugh. You can get changed now."
That wasn't what I had in mind but I was getting used to being outwitted.
"By the way, Oliver. Does this leotard belong to you or have you borrowed it?"
There was a silence while she waited and the usual noise of children getting changed had died down too so that they could all hear the answer.
"Its mine, miss," I said quietly.
"Have you taken up ballet?" she demanded in a voice that was unnecessarily loud.
"Sort of miss," I whispered, looking across at Josh.
"Good," she said briskly before moving on. Josh glared back at me.
The PE lesson was a nightmare. Five of us had leotards and, of course, I was the only boy. I used to like PE but that day was terrible. I spent most of the lesson trying to pull down the back of the leotard to cover my behind. It felt as if I had nothing to cover my modesty and to make it worse I was aware of the bulge down my front which although not large was quite obvious especially when I stood next to a girl wearing exactly the same as me. Lots of the other kids noticed too. To be fair all the girls were sweet. One, Molly, told me she was going to get a leotard too because I looked so good in mine. Another, Faye, told me I was really brave and if I wanted she would give me the name of her ballet teacher so we could go to classes together. The boys didn't say a word. They didn't laugh- they wouldn't dare while miss was in the room but when we had to go back to class I couldn't get into the line. All the boys formed a close line up which kept me out and I found myself at the back with the girls. Josh, who usually let me slip into the line next to him, didn't even look at me.
Back at class we got changed in silence. I was so pleased my ordeal was over. It was playtime next and Mrs Vincent was on duty so she told those of us still in the room to hurry up, she was off to the playground. That was when the boys started. It was quiet at first but I heard it alright. "Girl, girl" they chanted and as the others joined in it got louder. I went red. I knew it was me they were getting at. "Girl, girl, girl," the chant went on. I felt like crying but I knew that if I did things would get worse so I kept my head down trying to ignore them. So I didn't see Jordan, a kid who thinks he's tough and hard, grab the leotard from my bag.
"Ah look," he mocked. "His mummy has sewn his name inside. She had as well. Unfortunately, the label didn't cover the 'Princess Wear' logo which Jordan found highly amusing. He threw it across the room where another boy caught it and chucked it back. This became a game where the boys threw it to each other with me chasing them around, which was exactly what they wanted. Tears were now falling. I couldn't help it and, even though it made me look more like a girl, I cried. Eventually someone threw the leotard to Josh. He hesitated, holding on to it with me looking at him through my tears. He held it for long enough for me to know that he wasn't going to join in. Instead he handed it back to me.
"Thanks, Josh," I said but he was already on his way out of the classroom and he didn't wait for me. The other boys lost interest and left too but I knew that they wouldn't let this matter drop.
Walking home that day, without Josh- he had rushed out of school, a girl in my class caught up with me. "I think its great that you do ballet," she said. I was going to say that I didn't but I couldn't think of a better explanation for having a leotard. I felt trapped. It felt better to let people think that I did ballet to hide the truth- that my mum had just bought one for me- for a reason I still hadn't worked out. I was still finding the truth a bit puzzling. I couldn't work out what was going on. All I knew was that I had gone from being someone who got on with all the boys to being an outcast in the space of one lesson.
To add to my confusion I knew that when my mum asked me how my day was I wouldn't tell her about how awful it had been at PE. I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew that something was going on and that, although Alison was behind it, my mum was heavily involved. I did ask her why I didn't have my PE kit, though.
"You did. I packed it myself," mum answered.
"You packed the leotard," I reminded her.
"Yes. The school uniform list says leotards can be worn for PE," she replied.
"But girls wear leotards, mum."
"As a matter of fact you wear a leotard, Ollie," she said. "I saw you this weekend, or have you forgotten?"
"That was just a bit of fun," I said. "I was just pretending to be a dancer."
"Oh, so you were lying to Hannah were you? She thought you were enjoying yourself."
"I was but, " I could see myself getting tied up in an argument I couldn't win. "Couldn't I just have my shorts and T shirt for the next PE lesson," I asked trying hard to keep the desperation out of my voice.
"No you can't. That leotard has replaced your old kit which needed throwing out anyway. I'm not made of money, you know. If you told the truth about disliking ballet you wouldn't be in this mess," she announced.
"But you were cross with me for upsetting Hannah," I said defensively.
"I'm cross with you for lying to her as well," she said. "I don't know what has come over you recently." It was quite clear that this was the end of the matter as far as she was concerned and I was stuck with a leotard.
The leotard was back in my bag later that week. I had tried pretending to be sick when I realised there was another PE lesson that day but it hadn't worked. I didn't really expect it too but the thought of another humiliation was too much. It was pretty much a re-run of the earlier lesson. The worse thing was no matter how I moved I felt that I looked like a girl. I couldn't move like the boys and they instinctively moved away from me every time I went near them. To add to this, I spent most of the time trying to stretch the leotard downwards to cover more of me. Nobody actually laughed or said anything horrible while Miss was in the room but as soon as we were getting changed the boys started chanting again, "Girl, girl." Josh didn't join in but he hadn't really spent any time with me for days and he rushed out of school every day so that he didn't have to walk home with me. At the same time, girls who had never spoken to me before starting treating me as a friend and talking to me, particularly on the way home.
I tried to solve the problem of the leotard by telling my mum a lie. I hadn't told her a lie before and as I did it I could feel my face burning. I thought she would surely realise I wasn't telling the truth.
"We're doing PE outside next week so I need to take my outdoor kit." I told her. I had a perfectly good kit so there should be no problem there.
"What do the girls wear?" she asked. I wasn't sure why she wanted to know but I didn't feel easy about it.
"The same as the boys, tops and shorts, " I said. "Or track suits."
"Right," she replied with a far away look in her eye. I didn't like it.
"Some even wear football tops like mine," I said, quickly. It was true. Molly did.
"Some do, do they?" she said. "So some don't." And that was that, or as far as I was concerned it was.
Hannah and Alison were back on Friday night to stay the weekend.
"Hannah has a surprise for you,' Alison announced shortly after tea. Hannah's face brightened and she rushed to get something from her bag. Alison and my mum had big smiles on their faces. They obviously knew what it was and I knew that I would be expected to play my part. I also somehow knew I wasn't going to like it but I wasn't expecting what Hannah was now holding out for me.
"Tights?" I said weakly.
"Yes, they're yours now. We're the same size so they're bound to fit," Hannah bubbled.
My mum and Alison grinned and shared a look. I was speechless. I still hadn't taken the tights off Hannah but I knew I was the centre of attention, again.
"Hannah told me you wanted some," Alison continued.
"I didn't," I protested. I knew I had said it too loudly and I could see my mum's face clouding over but surely she would realise this wasn't true. "I never said that," I continued.
Hannah looked upset. "Sorry, Ollie, when we were dancing I thought you said you wished you were wearing tights."
"Did you say that, Ollie?" my mum asked.
"No!" I protested.
"Hannah, how could you lie like that?" Alison said to her daughter. Hannah looked confused and looked at me.
Yes, well…" I began. "I did say it… but I didn't mean it like that."
"Sorry Ollie," Hannah said again.
"So how did you mean it?" Alison asked, her smile in place but her voice already changing.
"Well, I didn't like wearing…" I hesitated. I could see whatever I said my mum wouldn't like it. "I thought tights might cover more of my legs," I said finally.
"and you said you couldn't see your mum buying you any, isn't that right?" Hannah continued.
"Did you say that, Ollie?" mum asked.
I had said that- exactly that.
"So I thought you wanted some but were too shy to ask your mum to buy you some," Hannah continued.
"And she brought you a pair of hers to have," Alison added.
"Hannah, that is so lovely of you," my mum gushed.
"I'm so glad you didn't lie to me," Alison said.
"What a shame Ollie can't tell the truth," my mum joined in.
"They're not old or ruined or anything and they will go so well with your T-shirt," Hannah continued trying to make me feel better. I was wearing my blue and white hooped T-shirt. 'Like a French sailor,' Mr Thomas once told me. I said nothing in reply and I still hadn't taken the tights off her.
My mum took over at this point.
"Thank you Hannah, you are very sweet." She took the tights from her and gave me a hard look.
"We need to have a little talk, IN YOUR ROOM."
When we got there she left me in no doubt that I was in big trouble.
"How could you?" she hissed not wanting to shout because the others would hear. "How could you lie? Hannah has been so kind and you have thrown it back in her face."
"But I don't want to wear tights, mum," I said. "I'm a boy."
"Then why did you tell her you did?" she demanded.
"I don't know. I was bothered about the leotard and…" I didn't get the chance to explain properly.
"Take your trousers off," mum directed and I obeyed immediately. "AND your socks." She took the tights and gathered them up so that she had the feet ready to put on me. She pushed me and I fell backwards onto my bed. When she had the tights halfway up my legs she snapped, "Stand up" and, when I did, she worked the tights all the way up and snapped them into place. I didn't get the chance to argue anymore and I was in no doubt that complaining would be useless. I looked down and saw the legs of a girl in navy blue tights. I tried to tell myself that many boys wear tights for ballet but I was wearing girl's tights. It was obvious from the label. I wondered if I would have my name sewn into these as well. Mum pulled my T shirt back into place.
"Now you get downstairs and make sure you show Alison and Hannah how grateful you are," mum commanded.
I stepped back into my slippers and followed her down the stairs feeling stupid in the tights but grateful that at least no one else could see me. Alison was making coffee in the kitchen and Hannah was helping her when I edged in to the room. They both smiled. "You look great," said Alison. "Doesn't he, Hannah?" My mum turned to face me expecting me to respond.
"They are really comfortable. Thank you, Hannah," I said. It wasn't enough for mum who continued to glare at me. "I've always wanted a pair of tights of my own," I continued. "It was kind of you to think of me." This seemed to satisfy her. Her face relaxed.
"Coffee, cake and telly," said Alison breezily. "We can all celebrate. Ollie has always wanted a pair of tights and now he has got some and, if you don't mind me saying so, you look absolutely wonderful. What do you think Judy?"
Mum looked at me, and her smile returned. "You look gorgeous, Ollie," she said.
We all sat on the sofa together but I sat with my legs tucked under me. That way I didn't have to look at my own legs. I could feel the tights all over my legs constricting them. It was a strange feeling but at least I could keep this private, I thought. I was glad that Hannah didn't go to my school. I didn't know what I would do if everyone found out about this.
So I was shocked when mum said, "Oh, I nearly forgot the pie for Mr Thomas. Ollie take it round to him please."
"I'll go and get dressed," I said.
"Don't be silly, you are dressed," Alison said.
"And you can pop round in your slippers," mum continued.
I didn't feel able to argue and I knew I had been outsmarted again. I collected the pie and stepped out the front door wearing only tights, T-shirt and slippers. All I needed now was someone from school to see me and I was finished. I stood at the front door wondering whether I could just throw the pie away and pretend I had done the errand. I knew it wouldn't work but I hated the thought that Mr Thomas would see me dressed in tights. Luckily for me I couldn't see a single person in the street and I shuffled as quickly as I could into Mr Thomas's front garden. I rang his bell and hopped from foot to foot willing him to hurry to the door. Being old it seemed to take him ages. I kept looking up and down the road but, apart from a car which went past, nobody else was around. Eventually, Mr Thomas opened the door.
"Hello, Mr Thomas. I've brought a pie mum made," I said.
He didn't invite me in like he usually did. Instead he looked me up and down.
"That's very kind of you mother, Oliver. Please thank her for me," he said in a formal voice. One I wasn't used to hearing.
I wondered if I should tell him that I didn't want to wear the tights but I didn't know how to bring the subject up so I didn't and he didn't ask. In fact, he didn't mention the tights at all but his look made it clear he disapproved. I left and scuttled home as quickly as possible.
When I got back the three of them were watching television and mum and Alison opened their arms to welcome me onto the sofa. This was the bit I really liked and I snuggled up between them feeling safe and looking forward to doing nothing other than watching television. Doing this was the best thing because we all got on and it was like having a new family. We hadn't been like this since my dad left and although my mum and me had always got on well it wasn't the same as having other people there as well. People who made you feel like family.
"We're going shopping tomorrow," Alison said. "If you like we'll get you a couple more pairs of tights. Would you like that Ollie?"
Inwardly, I groaned but I replied, "That would be brilliant."
I could tell from the way my mum sighed that I had said the right thing. I was relieved for the time being. It felt good to have pleased her. I didn't seem to do that as much as I used to.
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