After a few moments, I turned to my mother and asked when it begins. "...this weekend or...?"
"Oh no, that's far too soon." Mum replied. "We've got to get your room ready first, plus you haven't got any dresses yet, and you'll need knickers, socks, tights, shoes, a nightie and maybe some nice pyjamas... and nappies of course."
I grimaced as she listed all the items. "What do you need to do to my room?" I whined.
"Well your football and fighter plane posters need to come down for a start." she replied. "...and you'll need new bedding, and we'll have to sort through your books and comics because you won't be indulging yourself in science fiction or war stories for a while... and you'll have to box up your models too."
"Ooh." I moaned. "But I'll get them all back after four weeks?" I asked.
"Well that depends. Like said, it's a trial to see how you get on." Mum replied.
On Saturday, Mum sorted through my books whilst I carefully packed my model kits; wrapping the tanks, planes, formula one and rally cars in several layers of kitchen roll before arranging them in a large cardboard box. The posters came down and the few that didn't get torn were put in a cardboard tube for safe keeping in the loft, along with all my other stuff.
On Sunday I woke in my empty and lifeless bedroom. Mum had me spend the morning wiping down all my shelves with a damp cloth, and I had to vacuum the carpet too, which is usually one of Mum's jobs. In the afternoon we went to one of those out of town retail parks where there's a big DIY store, a discount homeware and clothing store, a sofa and bed centre and a car showroom. The DIY store is big and exciting. I spent my time looking at power tools, spanners and screwdrivers whilst Mum spent ages looking at door and drawer handles.
The discount clothing store is big and boring... especially when Mum insisted that I browse the girl's clothing section with her. "Don't worry... we won't be buying anything today." she assured me. "We're just having a look." she said. And look she did. Skirts, blouses, dresses, little shorts, play suits, socks, tights, shoes and worst of all, underwear. I'd already been informed that petticoating means I'd be wearing knickers as well as dresses. Mum pointed out some girl's undies. "These are cute." she said, removing a three pack of training bras in pink, lilac and baby blue.
"I don't need those Mum!" I growled under my breath.
"They're only training bras." Mum replied as she checked the price and size before putting them back. "And you do need them." she added. she strolled into the next aisle and sheepishly, I followed.
After a few moments of her just staring at the racks and rails. "What are you looking at those for?" I meekly asked.
"I'm just having a look." she replied. This aisle features nothing but school wear and it's nothing but girl's school wear! Gingham summer dresses and woollen pinafores with zips up the front or buttons at the shoulders. Pleated skirts in black, grey, blue or plaid and shirts and blouses with long and short sleeves. "Oh now these look nice." Mum said, spotting a section further along that aisle.
"Those look awful!" I said as I spied the chiffon and taffeta, the satin and silk of the bridesmaid's section. "You not going to be making me wear stuff like that are you?" I asked.
"Well whilst I'd love to see you in one... I can't see it somehow... they're far too expensive." she told me. "Come on." she said, leading us away from the girl's clothing.
"Where now?" I moaned. Mum took me to the bedding section and told me that a couple of new duvet sets is what we came for. The aisle has boy's duvets on one side and girl's on the other and Mum's facing the girl's side. Thing is, I didn't have to ask why. She asked if I could see anything I liked. "No!" I retorted.
"I had a feeling you wouldn't." she replied. "I'll have to choose something."
"Oh not Barbie!" I said as she picked that one up
“I asked if you could see anything you like and you said no.” Mum replied. She tucked the Barbie duvet set under her arm and asked me again if I could see anything I liked.
I screwed up my face and cast my eyes across the selection. There's Peppa Pig, Care Bears, loads of Disney ones, My Little Pony, Sparkle the Unicorn, ballerinas, flowers and love hearts. “Errr... that one looks OK.” I said, pointing out a pink camouflage set. It didn't look OK because it's pink, but at least it's not covered in hearts or flowers or some girlie cartoon character.
“Oh no.” Mum replied. “That's for a tom-boy.” she stated. “We need something for a petticoated boy.” she added. “What about this?” she said.
“Noo.” I whined. “It's got ballet dancers on it.”
“OK, how about that one... you like castles.” she said. Of all the duvets, this could be one of the best of a bad bunch. It might have a castle printed on it but it's a fairy castle with toadstool turrets and little fairies fluttering around them. Since I didn’t immediately say no, mum took that as a yes and marched away from the selection of duvet covers. Timidly I followed her to the sheets, where she took three fitted sheets, all in pink, and a plastic mattress protector.
“I don't need that.” I whined.
“You probably won't because you'll have a nappy and a pair of rubbers on... but it's better to be safe than sorry.”
“Rubbers?!” I gulped. Mum didn't reply. She just took the items to the counter and paid and I followed. I didn't see the duvet sets after we returned home and I didn't enquire about them either. I couldn't help but think about my new duvet covers though. I'm not looking forward to climbing under Barbie every night and don't want to think about waking up the next morning. Hateful as the Fairy Castle duvet is, it's the best of the two, I figure... but maybe my duvet sets are the least of my worries. It's the thought of being put back in nappies that worries me most of all.
On Thursday after school, Mum tells me that we're going to the shops on Penton Road, which is about a mile away. She needs to go to the haberdashery store but I'd rather stay home and get on with my homework. However the offer of a fish & chip supper on the way back changed my mind. The twenty minute walk took us down several residential streets, through a snickett and a small park, along and avenue and eventually to Penton Road. There's a butcher and a baker, a newsagent, the fish and chip shop, a closed down DVD rental store, a greengrocer, off licence and haberdashery. I gulp as we enter. Having glanced in the window and noticed the 'bespoke dressmaking' notice, I have a feeling this has something to do with me.
The shopkeeper welcomes us and Mum says she's interested in the bespoke dressmaking service. “Oh yes... is it for yourself?” the lady asked. I felt myself blush when Mum proudly said that it was for me, her son. “Very good.” the lady said, smiling at me. She explained that it's a simple case of choosing a fabric, choosing a pattern, taking my measurements and waiting a week or two for the garment to be made.
Mum suggested that I have a look at the fabrics, of which there seemed to be hundreds, whilst she looks at the patterns. “And don't touch anything.” she added.
“I won't.” I moaned before sauntering amongst the resplendent shelves packed with bolts of material. My eyes kept landing on the pinks and the floral patterns and I feared that's what I’d end up having to wear. As I sheepishly stroll down the aisle, I can't help but over hear the shopkeeper advising my mother. Apparently the vintage patterns are popular, and styles with back fastenings are essential. I shut my ears and try not to think about the prospect of actually being petticoated, but that's easier said than done. Mum's being so vague about when it's going to happen, which doesn't help. It could be next week or next month for all I know. I put my thoughts aside and focus on the fabrics. I'm surprised to find some cool patterns amongst the spots, strips, flora and fauna. Patterns including zombies, skulls, footballs, flying saucers, fighter planes and racing cars. Some of them are a bit childish but they're definitely better than the rest. My stroll takes me past yet more unnerving designs; some plain, some garish and plenty in between.
“Have you seen anything you like?” Mum asked as she approached me, clutching a cuiple of sewing patterns.
“Not really.” I replied, before mentioning the zombie and skull prints.
“I don't think zombies would be very appropriate.” mum replied. “Or skulls.” she added as she began to peruse the selection herself. Worryingly, but not surprisingly, Mum lingered at the pinks, the peaches, the pretty, cute girlie fabrics. I pointed out the zombies and the skull prints and despite smiling at them, she clearly wasn't interested. “These are quite nice.” she said, running her fingers of the fabrics depicting motorcars, aeroplanes and steam trains.
“This one's cool.” I said, pointing to one with formula one racing cars on it. “Or that's well cool!” I added, drawing her attention to the one printed with fighter planes.
“We're looking for cute rather than cool Gavin.” Mum replied. “You can have one of these if you like.” she said, reverting my attention back to the childlike images of cars, planes and trains.
Knowing that the fabric would be made into a dress that I'd be expected to wear, I didn't want any of them. But if I don't chose something, mum will and it'll be kittens or flowers or worse. Mum liked the 'cute' motorcars, in particular those with the white and yellow background, whilst I preferred the dark blue one. Sky blue was the compromise and Mum prepared to grab the bolt. “Here, hold these.” she said, passing me the patterns.
I audibly gulp as I discover what she's got in mind.
My jaw dropped. I couldn't help but glare at the images. Mum's fingernail landed on the right hand pattern, specifically the girl in the blue dress. “I think that one would be nice in this.” she said, drawing my attention to bolt of fabric in her arms. She tapped her nail on the other pattern. “And this one's going to be your Sunday dress.” she told me.
I grimaced at the pale green frock with it's dainty floral pattern, but more than anything it was a the frills around the shoulders that worried me most. “Do I have to have a flowery one?” I meekly asked.
“I was thinking about stripes.” Mum said, leading me to some fabrics that had caught her eye.
“Now I know you won't want the pink one, but I like the lilac and green one.”
If I sneer at these, she might have something worse in mind; flowers, hearts, butterflies and kittens flash through my mind. I express my preference for the blue one, but I've already got blue, so mum settles on the green one. I sneer the slightest of sneers. “Green?” she asked. I gulp and nod. She removes the bolt and takes them to the counter where the shopkeeper compliments our choices and opens her order book. Shoving the car print fabric toward the shopkeeper, Mum says “This ones for style er... Have you got the patterns Gavin?”
With a trembling hand I place them on the counter and can't help but listen as Mum specifies the details such as sleeve and collar style and skirt length. After a few minutes of enthused chatter, the lady steps from behind the counter and tells me that she needs to take my measurements and take them she does, right in them idle of the shop. Anyone could walk in, I feared as she measured my shoulders, chest, waist, neck to waist (back), shoulder to waist (front), waist to knee and even around my arms! One by one, she jots my sizes down and once done, informs my mother that it usually takes ten to fourteen days. “So don't put any weight on young man.” she says to me in a friendly tone. I couldn't help but feel threatened though.
Knowing that my mother had ordered two handmade dresses didn't sit easy with me... nor did knowing that I'd chosen the fabrics myself. I guess it'll be at least two weeks before I'm actually petticoated, since that's how long it'll be before my dresses are ready. If I’d got myself in big trouble for something I'd understand why I'm being petticoated. Mum said that it should do me some good... but what good can making a boy wear girl's clothes do? I just don't get it.
We sat and ate our fish & chip supper in the park and Mum said that she was looking forward to seeing my dresses, before asking if I was too. “Not really.” I diplomatically moaned. “I don't want to be petticoated.” I told her. “It's not fair.”
“I know it doesn't seem fair at the moment Gavin, but it's just something we're going to try.” Mum said. “Just for a few weeks.” she added.
“You make it sound like it's no big deal.” I sighed as I slumped onto my palm. “It's a huge deal for me.” I said in a pleaful tone. “Especially if I have to wear nappies again.” I grumped.
“They're only for bedtime.”
“But why?” I whined.
“So you don't wet the bed.”
“I don't wet the bed.”
“So you won't wet your nappy either.”
“I will if I'm locked in my bedroom... I always go for a wee in the night.”
“And you either wake me up with the flush or leave it to fester 'til morning.” Mum replied. “...and you only go in the night if you don't go before bed.” she claimed.
Maybe she's right, but that doesn't make the prospect of having to wear a nappy for bed any easier. Just talking about it makes me feel very uneasy.
At the weekend, Mum and I went into town and just as she's done for the last two weeks, we browsed the girl's department in seemingly every high street store. We also went into shops such as Pop Tickle and Juzt Girlz. Mum made it clear that she wasn't buying anything, and I was thankful for that, but merely browsing the girl's clothes stores was a mind boggling experience. There's tea dresses, pinafore dresses, skater dresses, shift dresses, shirt dresses, shift dresses... many of which all look the same to me. Then there's straight skirts, pleated skirts, pencil skirts, A line skirts, circle skirts, rara skirts... not mention the play-suits, jump suits, dungarees, culottes, pedal pushers... Why so many different nouns for items that look more or less the same? I wonder.
Eventually we went into MotherCare and Mum accosted the first store assistant we saw. “Hello. Could you tell me where the nappies are?” Mum asked.
“Baby's nappies or...” the assistant glanced at me. “...big boys?”
“Big boys.” Mum confidently replied as I felt myself begin to blush.
Toward the back of the large store is the PettiCare section where the assistant explains all the different types; disposable, reusable, wicking and non-wicking, discreet day nappies, ultra padded 'comfort' nappies, traditional flat nappies. “These require a black belt in origami to fit.” the assistant joked, before discreetly asking if I'm a bed wetter or a petticoatee.
“A petticoatee.” Mum answered, adding “Soon to be.” She glanced at me and I gulped. “Now I don't want to spend too much because we're just giving it a try.” she explained. The assistant recommended the budget non-wicking disposable type, which are available in packs of seven, fourteen or twenty-eight. “Do they come with rubbers or are they separate?” Mum asked. The assistant pointed to the packs of rubbers which are available separately, and their range of cotton over-knickers. “Oh they look lovely!” Mum said as I grimaced at the frilly monstrosities.
“I don't have to wear those too do I?” I gulped. Mum said I'd need something to cover my nappies and that 'something' is a pair of over-knickers. “You'll only have them on in bed... no one's going to see them.” she claimed as she turned them to reveal row upon row of horizontal frills sewn across the rear.
“Don't they do boy's ones?” I asked.
“These are the boys ones.” Mum told me. “But I'll not get you any with pink on if that's what you're worried about.”
“I'm worried about the frills.” I dryly replied.
“Well like I say, you'll be tucked up in bed so no one will see them.”
Mum turns her attention back to the assistant and enquired about the sizing. I felt so uncomfortable in this corner of the store, surrounded by packs of nappies, rubbers and frilly cotton over-knickers. There is another boy with his parents who looks just as sheepish as I feel. I can't help but eavesdrop on their conversation. He's maybe a year or two my junior and is humbly telling his mother that he prefers disposable nappies, and his mother is explaining that reusable nappies are far cheaper in the long run. “All they need is a quick wash in the machine.” she tells him.
Meanwhile, my mother is choosing my over knickers. I glance but I can't look at the pairs she's selected. There's too much lace and too many frills for my liking, but thankfully no pink. “Gavin.” she says. “Come on.”
Sheepishly I accompany her to the counter. “We don't need that many Mum!” I quietly gasp as I notice that she'd got me a pack of twenty-eight nappies. She ignored me as we approached the counter so I reiterated my point after she'd paid. As we headed through the exit, Mum told me that she'd got me enough to see me through the four week trial. “But it's just weekends though.” I said. “That's...” I counted on my fingers. “...eight nights.”
“I think you misunderstand.” Mum replied. I was gutted to learn that I'll be wearing my nappies every night and not just on the weekend as I'd presumed. I felt like I'd been deliberately mislead. All this talk of it just being a trial and just on the weekends made the prospect of being petticoated not seem too bad. Mum said I was getting upset over nothing and reminded me that at thirteen years old, I probably won't even need my nappies.
“At thirteen I shouldn't have to wear them at all... not every night anyway.” I retorted.
“I've told you often enough that it's the same for all petticoated boys... the only difference between you and them is that you'll only be wearing your dresses over the weekend rather than everyday.” she informed me. She claims that I'm fortunate that I’m not being dropped in at the deep end, but even the thought of merely dipping my toes in the water evokes a deep sense of dread.
We arrive home and mum wastes no time having a look at her purchases. “Oh I didn't know they had frills on as well!” I whined as she unfolded a pair of rubbers. The milky translucent garment has an elasticated waist and legs, but the legs have a broad lace trim all the way around. She removes one of the nappies from the big plastic wrapped bundle and is impressed that they're all individually wrapped in clear cellophane. I can't help but whine when I notice the girlie design printed on the front. “You got me girl's ones on purpose didn't you!” I sulked.
“These are boy's ones Gavin.” my mother claimed. A claim that was confirmed by the age group and gender clearly stated on the packaging. She didn't deny that they were girlie though. They clearly are. She began to read the blurb on a big plastic tub and I asked what it was. “This is your nappy rash cream.” she said, briefly explaining its purpose.
“I know what it's for Mum!” I blurted as she opened its lid.
“Hmm... smells quite nice.” she said.
She offered me the tub but I refused it, screwing up my nose, shaking my head and recoiling away. “I'm going to my room.” I moaned, grimacing at my mother's smug expression. I glanced at the items on the table before leaving.
It's been two weeks since Mum packed up most of my things and put them in the loft.
After half an hour or so, Mum checks in on me. “Oh Gavin... how on earth you can still make a mess when you've got hardly any stuff I'll never know.” she said as she picked up the discarded socks and shifted my trainers from where I'd kicked them off. I half heartedly apologised before timidly asking exactly when she was planning on petticoating me. “Well... I was thinking the week after next, or maybe the week after that.” she replied.
“Two or three weeks?” I whined. “Why can't you just get it over with?” I asked. “It's so boring not having any of my own stuff.”
“Well there's still a lot of things you'll need... shoes, socks and tights, underwear of course...” My frown deepened as each item was added to the list. “...a nightie and maybe some PJs, new curtains and pictures for the walls...”
“You're going to turn it into a girl's room.” I moaned. Mum insisted she wasn't, but contradicted herself by saying she was just adding some girlie elements. “It's the same thing.” I claimed.
“Well I'm not planning on painting the walls pink Gavin.” she said as she cast her eyes around the bare blue walls.
On Tuesday, one of the neighbours called round for a cup of tea and a natter with my mother. They chatted in the kitchen whilst I watched TV in the sitting room. I sauntered through to fetch myself another glass of cordial and the neighbour asked how I was and how I was getting on at school. I replied positively to both questions, then Mum casually told her than I’m going to be petticoated in a few weeks. The neighbour presumed I'd got in trouble for something but Mum assured her that I hadn't. “I'm not sure I agree with petticoating.” the neighbour said. “Dressing boys in girl's clothes just seems wrong to me.”
“Same here.” I mournfully said.
“Well if it's good for a girl it's good for a boy.” Mum chirped, quoting from the pro-petticoating propaganda she's been reading. “What seems wrong to me is the fact that, as a result of letting boys be 'boys'...” Mum mimed the quotes. “...the country's prison population is ninety-four percent male and only six percent female.” Mum stated. “I read about a juvenile detention centre in Didsbury that adopted correctional petticoating a couple of years ago and the re-offending rate dropped from around seventy percent to twenty percent!” she claimed. “And the schools that promote petticoating have reported that the boys are less disruptive, are less likely to truant and perform far better than those in the standard coeducational environment.” she said. “They're topping the league tables you know.”
“Maybe.” the neighbour cynically replied. “But boys will still be boys, even if they're dressed as girls.” she said, glancing at me and probably imagining what I'd look like.
“They'll still be boys but they'll not be quite so boyish.” Mum replied, listing characteristics including boisterousness, fearlessness, recklessness, arrogance, aggression, apathy, deceit, etc.
“Girls can be all those things too.” the neighbour stated.
“Yes but not typically.” Mum replied. “We raise boys and girls so very differently... they have different clothes, different toys, different books and films...” Mum explained at some length how the different approaches to our upbringing might be a factor in the fact that so many more males get themselves into trouble than females.
“Oh I don't know.” the neighbour replied. “It's a bit tenuous don't you think?”
“Well it's worth a try.” Mum replied. The neighbour reiterated that she feels that putting a boy in girl's clothes is fundamentally wrong, as she cast her eyes over me once more.
Mum also cast her eyes on me. “A bit of girl time certainly won't do any harm.” Mum claimed. “...and it's just a trial. Four weeks to see how he gets on.”
“Well nothing ventured nothing gained I suppose.” the neighbour replied.
“Exactly.” Mum said, before telling her that I'm getting two dresses made.
“Are you looking forward to that Gavin?” the neighbour asked in a somewhat patronising tone.
“Not really.” I groaned.
“Part of you wants to get it over and done with though doesn't it.” Mum said to me before turning back the the neighbour. “I've been holding back a bit because it's his birthday next month and I'd like that to fall within his trial period.” she informed the neighbour.
“Oh Mu-um! I don't want to be petticoated on my birthday!” I whined.
“Well I think it'll be nice if you are.” Mum replied. She held my gaze for a moment and I knew she wasn't joking. I gulped and skewed my jaw, before returning to the lounge where I tried and failed to escape into TV land. I hadn't given my birthday much thought until now and the last thing I want to do is spend it wearing a stupid dress! After the neighbour had left, I mournfully asked my mother why she wants to petticoat me on my birthday. “Because it gives me an excuse to buy you a really nice party dress.” she told me.
“I'm not having a party too am I?” I gulped as a vision popped into my skull.
“Well that depends.” Mum said.
“On whether or not you deserve one.” she replied in a semi-threatening tone. I wondered what she meant by that but didn't want to ask. “But party or not, you will be wearing a party dress.” Mum added.
“It's going to be the worst birthday ever!” I growled.
“Not necessarily Gavin.” Mum said in an empathetic tone of voice.
The following week at school, Jason, one of my mates asked why I was being so quiet lately. “Oh it's nothing.” I glumly replied.
“It must be something.” he replied. “You've not been petticoated have you?” he jovially suggested.
“No!” I said. “What makes you think that?!”
“I was only joking.” he defensively claimed, before telling me that when his cousin was petticoated he went from being a proper loud mouth to being as quiet as a mouse in a flash.
“I didn't know you had a cousin who'd been petticoated.”
“I'm sure I told you... it was ages ago.” he replied.
“What's he like?” I asked. “Does he live round here?”
“Yeah. On the east bank... he's okay. It was weird seeing him wearing dresses and stuff but... I'm kind of used to it now... and so is he.”
“I don't think I'd get used to it.” I grumbled.
“Well you won't have to unless you've got one of those mothers.”
“Yeah.” I nervously agreed. “Thing is... my mum has mentioned it, on more than a few occasions.” I confessed.
“My mum's always threatening to petticoat me but she won't.” he said.
“I hope mine doesn't.” I replied, knowing full well that she will, and in the foreseeable future.
“She won't.” he reckoned. “You never get into trouble.” he told me. “You don't even hand your homework in late.”
“Yeah.” I reluctantly agreed. “So... this cousin of yours... is he petticoated all the time?” I asked. He nodded and told me that his cousin has to wear nappies for bed. “Blimey!” I grimaced.
“I even had to wear one when we stayed over a few months back!”
“No way!” I exclaimed. “What was that like?”
“Well... I didn't use it if that's what you're thinking.” he claimed. “But it was a bit worrying... if I did need to go, I’d have had to.” he added, before telling me that Callum Morris, the boy in our class who's being sent to PettiCamp, also wears nappies for bed.
“Yeah but don't tell anyone... he's bit shy about it.”
“I bet he is.” I nervously chuckled. I knew that Callum was being sent to PettiCamp this summer but presumed that was going to be his initiation. I had no idea that he was already a petticoatee. I spent a split second wondering if I should ask him about it, to find out if being petticoated is as bad as I expect it to be, but quickly decided not to. I've already said too much and I don't want word getting around.
“Isn't it your birthday in a couple of weeks?” he asked.
“Five weeks.” I replied.
“You doing owt?” he asked.
“Prob'ly not.” I replied, claiming that I'm too old for parties, there's nothing spectacular coming out at the cinema and Mum can't afford things like paint-ball or Go-Ape. I dread to think what I will be doing, or wearing!
The next weekend, we ventured into town to get the weekly grocery shop and as usual, Mum took me on a tour of the girl's departments again. She'd point out little pairs of shorts and say they're 'cute', or describe a little skirt as 'sweet'. She'd draw my attention to T shirts, blouses, little tops, playsuits, pants and leggings or whatever else caught her eye. “Why do you keep showing me all this stuff Mum?” I moaned after sauntering around the fourth department store.
“Just getting you used to all the different styles.” she replied. “There's so much more variety don't you think.”
“There's too much variety.” I glumly retorted. No wonder Mum spends so much time trying to decide what to wear!
We wondered along the high street and Mum stopped to look in the window of a shoe shop. She took me inside and Mum made a bee line for the girl's shoes with straps, buckles and little heels. I moaned about the styles she preferred. “Why can't I just have plain lace up shoes? Like those.” I said, pointing out a style that could easily be classed as unisex.
“They're school shoes Gavin.” Mum replied. “I like these.” she said, removing a pair with a low cone shaped heel.
“But I can't wear heels!”
“They're only little ones Gavin.” Mum replied. “Wouldn't you like to be bit taller?” she asked.
“Do you need any help?” an assistant asked. Mum told her that she's looking for some nice shoes for me. “Have you worn heels before?” the assistant asked. I shook my head. She turned to my mother and asked if she was looking for school shoes.
“No just some nice shoes that'll go with a variety of outfits.” Mum replied.
“Well you can't go wrong with black.”
“They are nice.” Mum said, before presuming they'd be a little too high for me; a beginner.
“They're way too high.” I whined. The heel looked like a good three inches, maybe more!
The assistant explained. “It sounds counter intuitive but I'd always recommend dropping them in at the deep end with a higher heel rather than starting low and working up.” she said. “A few days in these...” She raised the shoe. “...will mean he'll take to those...” she gestured to some shoes with a lower heel. “...like a duck to water.” she claimed.
“That makes sense.” Mum said. “I know they look quite high Gavin but they're not that high.. no more than two-and-a-half inches.” she claimed. “...maybe three.” she added. “Let's get your feet measured and we'll see how they look.”
I've always enjoyed getting my feet measured at the shoe shop. But today it was embarrassing for two reasons; one, I'm getting girl's shoes. Two, Mum made me wear a pair of my new socks. “These are pretty.” the assistant said when she noticed the ruffled lace trim around my ankles.
I gulped and grimaced and looked up at my mother, who prompted me to say thank you. I gulped again. “Thank you.” I timidly said.
“My little brother used to wear socks like this.” the assistant added as she drew the gauge down to my toes. “He was petticoated long before it was fashionable.”
“That's interesting.” Mum replied. “Did he enjoy it?”
“Well he felt a bit silly to begin with, like all boys do...” the assistant glanced at me. “...but he eventually came to terms with it. He's at university now.”
“See Gavin... I told you you've got nothing to worry about.” Mum said as the assistant placed my other foot on the Brannock device.
“So you keep saying.” I thought as the assistant declared me a size five-and-a-half.
“Shall I fetch pair of the patent Mary Jane's?”
“Yes please.” Mum replied.
“I'd rather not wear heels Mum... what if I can't walk in them and twist my ankle?”
“Girl's can walk perfectly well in them Gavin, so I'm sure a boy can too.”
Maybe so, but that doesn't make the prospect of wearing shoes with heels any more bearable. A few moments passed before the assistant returned. Those were filled with me sitting nervously on the bench and Mum perusing the shoes on display, pointing out the odd pair and telling me that they're nice. One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks is that my opinion doesn't matter, but that doesn't stop me from offering it. “I don't like them.” I mumbled after the assistant had strapped the shoes to my feet.
“Stand up, let's have a proper look.” Mum said. With caution, I stood and didn't take my eyes off my feet as I did so. My pants dropped to cover the tops of my frilly ankle socks and the buckled straps, leaving my thin white socks in stark contrast to the shiny black shoes. “You're almost as tall as me now.” Mum said as I reached my full height. I gulped.
I felt the assistant's fingers take hold of mine. She gently lifted my hand. “Take a few steps.” she said. “Carefully.” she added. Fearful of the heel, I put most of my weight on my toes as I took one step then another. I felt tall yet meek as she held my hand aloft like some delicate thing. “Try to walk on both toe and heel.” she advised. “The biggest mistake you can make is to forget you're wearing heels.”
“I don't think I'll forget I'm wearing these.” I said as I turned and walked to the few paces back to my mother, escorted by the store assistant who gently clasped my hand.
“You're doing very well.” my mother commented, but she would say that. “How do they feel?” she asked as the assistant let go of my hand.
“Scary.” I replied. “I think they might be a bit too high.”
“I think they're just about right.” the assistant claimed. According to her, someone my age with my foot size can easily wear a three and a half inch heel and the shoes I'm wearing are lower than that. “Would you like to try something higher as a comparison?”
“Er... no... thanks.” I said.
“I think those are perfect.” Mum said, before suggesting we have a look for a nice pair of flat shoes too. I suggested I took the Mary Jane’s off but mum suggested I keep them on for a few more minutes to get accustomed to them. “Can you see anything you like?” she asked.
“Those!” I said, pointing to the range of Converse. “But not the pink ones.”
“I think they're a bit too boyish Gavin.” mum replied as she strafed the display. “Oh!” she exclaimed at a resplendent display of jelly shoes. “These'll go perfectly with your blue dress, and those blue shorts I got you.” she said, picking up a pale blue one.
“What blue shorts?” I quizzed. Mum informed me that she's been picking up a few 'bits and bats' during the week, including tops, socks, a cardigan, some T shirts and a pair of pale blue shorts that she describes as 'very cute'.
I wasn't keen on the pale blue jelly shoes but at least they were flat. Mum was keen because they're cheap and the assistant claimed that jelly shoes are a popular choice for petticoated boys. “Colourful, affordable, timeless.” she said. “...and perfect for paddling.”
I sat whilst the assistant fetched a pair in my size. Mum unbuckled my Mary Jane's and admired them for a moment before putting them back in their box. I briefly tried the jelly shoes for size before putting my plimsolls back on. I sighed as I followed my mother to the counter, but was glad that we'd soon be out of there.
We headed toward the end of the high street, calling in at the fishmongers and butchers. They're always the last ports of call when grocery shopping, then it's directly home to get them in the fridge.
“I think we've pretty much got everything now.” Mum casually said as we headed home. “Your dresses should be ready this week.” she reminded me, before asking how I felt about starting next weekend. “Or we could leave it another week if you prefer?” she suggested.
“If you'd just gone ahead with it when you first mentioned it my four weeks would have been pretty much over by now.” I glumly replied.
“I know but you didn't have anything then.” she replied. “Is that a yes to next weekend?” she asked.
“I guess.” I gulped.
“I'm quite looking forward to it.”
“I'm not.” I grumbled.
“Not even a little?”
“No boy in their right mind would get excited over being petticoated Mum.” I retorted. “Everyone says we get used to it eventually but no one says it's something to look forward to.”
“I suppose.” Mum replied. “So it's more nerves than anything then?”
“I just want to get it over and done with.” I flippantly retorted.
“That's understandable.” Mum replied. “Next weekend it is then.” she said in a worryingly joyous tone.
“I'm glad one of us is looking forward to it.” I dryly replied.
“I'm more intrigued than anything. From what I've read, most boys adapt quite well once they've got over their initial stage fright.”
“And what about the rest?” I grimly asked.
“They don't have any stage fright.” Mum replied, before claiming that everything she's read about petticoating has been positive.
“Mrs Webster didn't sound very positive when you told her.” I said, recalling the neighbour's comments.
“But she did say nothing ventured nothing gained.”
“What's to gain from dressing me like a girl?” I grumbled.
“Well... that's what we're going to find out.” Mum replied.
I went to my room when we got back home where I slumped on my bed and had a little sulk. I cast my eyes over my empty shelves and the dressing table mirror on my desk. I recalled all the stuff Mum's been buying me; the girlie duvet covers, the dresses, the socks, today's shoes and worst of all, the big pack of nappies. It was weird when Jason told me that he had to wear one when staying with his petticoated cousin. Maybe they're not so bad after all, providing they're not needed... but I guess I'll just have to wait and find out for myself.
At school on Monday, Jason approached me at break and said, “You still down in the dumps?” Jason said. I nodded. “What's up?” he asked.
“Remember you mentioned your cousin last week... the petticoated one.” I replied. He nodded. “Well... don't tell anyone but... my mum's decided that she's going to petticoat me.” I confessed.
“Oh no!” he gasped. “When?”
“This weekend... for four weeks.”
“Blimey.” he replied. “Why only four weeks?”
“Mum says it's just a trial, to see how I get on.”
“Do you believe her?” he asked.
“Dunno.” I shrugged.
“When did you find this out?”
“A few weeks ago.”
“That explains why you've been keeping yourself to yourself recently.” he said. “You gonna do it?”
“I don't really have a choice.” I frowned. “I'd understand if I kept getting into trouble or if my grades were really bad... I feel like I’m being punished for nothing.” I sighed.
“My mum keeps threatening me with it... but she won't actually do it.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because she's not one of those mothers.” he replied. “My mum thinks boys should be boys and girls should be girls.”
“My mum says if it's good for a girl it's good for a boy.” I mournfully replied.
“My aunt says that too.”
“How long's your cousin been petticoated for?”
“Err.... three or four years I guess.”
I bit my lip at the sheer thought of being petticoated for as long as that. “Does he have to wear a girl's uniform too?” I asked.
“Not for school.” he replied. “But he wears one after school... when he's got homework to do.” he added
“What's he like?”
“He's OK... considering.”
“How old is he?”
“Blimey!” I exclaimed. That means he's been petticoated since he was my age! “What about Callum Morris? Do you know how long he's been petticoated for?”
“No.” he replied. “A while I guess. Why don't you ask him?”
“Nah... I doubt he wants to talk about it.” I have toyed with trying to talk to Callum, to get the 'low down' or some tips, or to find out of there's any way out of it... but I just can't bring myself to approach him and say 'Hi Callum... I'm gonna be petticoated just like you, let's talk!'.
“Well if you explained he might.”
“He might tell everyone as well.” I said. “I trust you won't.” I asked.
“Nah, your secret's safe with me.” Jason assured, before asking if I'll have to wear nappies too.
“I don't wanna even think about that.” I said. Feeling that I'd already revealed too much, I let Jason believe that I didn't know. The last thing I want to describe is the big pack of disposable nappies, the lace trimmed rubbers or the frilly cotton over knickers.
When I got home, Mum asked if I’d had a nice day at school. As usual, I said it was OK, but chose not to tell her about the chat I'd had with Jason about his cousin Peter. I haven't even told her about Callum Morris, the only petticoated boy at school as far as I'm aware. I imagine Mum might encourage me to get chummy with him and maybe invite him around for afternoon tea or something. I sit at my desk to do my homework and count the days on my fingers... five nights of normality, then it's four weeks of petticoating.
The next few days go far too quickly. On Wednesday, my mother gleefully informs me that she collected my dresses today and claimed that they look absolutely lovely. “Do you want to see them now or save them 'til Saturday?” she enthused.
“I don't even want to think about them 'til Saturday.” I glumly replied. That was easier said than done. I could think of little else as the weekend loomed.
I felt mournful as I sauntered home from school on Friday afternoon. Tomorrow morning I'll have to start wearing the girlie clothes that Mum's been assembling over the last few weeks and I'm really not looking forward to it. “How was school?” my mother cheerfully asked when I returned.
“OK.” I replied. She asked if I had any homework. “A bit.” I replied.
“Well you'd best get on with it now.” Mum chirped.
“I'll do it later, after supper.” I replied.
“I'd rather you did it now... then it's done.” she insisted.
“OK.” I said. I removed my coat and carted my school bag up to my room. I expected to be greeted by the same bare walls and empty shelves I'd got used to since mum put most of my stuff in the loft, but when I opened the door I just stopped and dropped my jaw. “Oh Mu-um!” I groaned to no one but myself. On my bed is the Barbie duvet cover she'd bought me and flanking my window is a pair of pale pink curtains. Obscuring the view is a white lacy net curtain, and there's a fluffy pink rug beside my bed. I gulp as I cast my eyes across a series of framed pictures hanging on the walls.
I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard my mother's voice from right behind me. “What do you think?” Why does she have to appear out of nowhere like that!?
“What've you done Mum?” I gasped as my heart palpitated erratically.
“I've brightened the place up a bit.” she joyously replied.
“With pictures of ballet dancers?” I gulped and the art on the walls.
“They make a nice change from posters of fighter planes, footballers and racing cars.” Mum smugly replied. I gulped and frowned. “Oh don't look so glum... you knew what to expect.” she jovially added as my eyes panned my room and found three dolls perched on my bookshelf.
“I didn't expect dolls!” I exclaimed, gulping at the fearsome threesome.
“They're just for decoration Gavin, you won't be expected to play with them.”
I gulped and cast my eyes around once more; Barbie duvet and pillow case, heart shaped rug, pink curtains, a Disney princess bedside lamp and a larger princess lampshade around the big light on the ceiling. “I suppose I should be thankful that you didn't paint the walls pink.” I frowned.
“Well it did cross my mind.” Mum replied. She threw me a pursed smile as I glared at the bookshelves. “There's some books and magazines.” she said as I gorped at my shelves.
The pink, peach, lilac and white spines hinted at a selection that wouldn't normally be aimed at teenage boys. I focused on the titles; Alice in Wonderland, Heidi, One Hundred Dresses, Anne of Green Gables, The Princess and the Pauper, A Little Princess, The Disney Princess Annual, The Dolly Dress-up Sewing Book, Paper Dolls, Fun Crafts for Girls...
“They're all girl's books.”
“Of course.” Mum replied.
I gulped having spotted a ballet book, worryingly alongside one titled Skipping and Rhyming Games for Girls. “Skipping and rhyming games.” I gasped. I gulped, then grimaced when Mum told that I've also got a skipping rope. “Why?” I cautiously asked. Mum, somewhat smugly informed me that as a petticoatee I'll be excused from PE at school. “Why?” I said, feeling like a stuck recordd.
“To spare your blushes.” Mum replied. Huh? I thought. “Petticoated boys get their exercise at home after school. Half an hour a day of active play.” she said.
Hmm.... that doesn't sound like much fun, I thought. I was told that instead of doing PE at school, I'll be joining the homework group with the other kids that don't do PE for whatever reason. I always figured that Callum Morris must have had asthma or something since he never does PE, and now I know the real reason... “But... what does being petticoated at home have to do with PE at school?” I quizzed.
Mum gave me one of those looks that suggested I was missing something obvious. “Petticoated boys wear girls underwear all the time... even under their boy clothes.” she told me. “I don't think you'll want the other boys seeing your knickers and training bra when you're getting changed.”
“I thought I’d only be wearing those at the weekend?” I frowned.
“I said you'd only have to wear dresses at the weekends.”
“But I thought that meant...”
Mum cocked her head and slowly shook it. She told me that I've clearly not been paying attention when she's been talking to me about petticoating. “I made it quite clear that you'll be wearing a nappy every night and knickers every day. The dresses I bought are for the weekends and the skirts, shorts, tops and blouses are to wear in the week... after school of course.” she revealed.
“So... the only boy's clothes I'll be allowed is my school uniform?” I realised. Mum nodded. “That's not fair!” I whined.
“Would you rather no boy's clothes at all?” Mum sternly suggested. “I'm sure I could arrange special permission from your headmaster so you could wear the girl's uniform for school...” she claimed. I had a gut feeling that she was bluffing but wasn't willing to risk finding out. “...because there's plenty of petticoated boys who do precisely that.” she added. I gulped and would my neck in.
Mum asked if I had any homework. “Yeah a bit.” I replied.
“Well you'd best get started on that.” she said. “I'll make supper for six... will you be finished by then?” she asked.
“Yeah I guess.”
“Good because you'll need a bath and bedtime's eight o'clock.”
“Tonight?!” I exclaimed. Mum nodded. “I thought we were starting all that tomorrow.” I added.
“Well we are really.” Mum replied, “First thing in the morning so you need an early night.” she said.
Mum left me alone and I unpacked my school bag, putting the books and stationary I'd need on my desk which, with the addition of a vanity mirror, looks more like a dressing table than a desk. It's hard not to intermittently glance at my reflection or cast my eyes around my room. I can't wait to get my own stuff back. Pictures of ballet dancers, pink curtains and Barbie bedding really don't belong in a boy's bedroom.
After spending an hour or so on my homework, I sauntered downstairs where Mum was reading a magazine with the TV on quietly in the background. “All done?” she asked.
“Yeah.” I replied.
Mum put the magazine down, picked up the remote control and turned off the TV. “Are you looking forward to tomorrow?” she asked.
“Noo!” I said in a whiny voice. “I'm looking forward to four weeks tomorrow when things can go back to normal.” I optimistically added.
“I'm sure you are.” she smiled. “Now... there's a lot more to being petticoated than just wearing girl's clothes.”
“I know.” I whined.
“There's lots of rules you'll need to abide by and every time you break one means one day will be added to the four week trial.” she said. “I don't expect you to like the rules but I do expect you to follow them... understand?”
I frowned, gulped and nodded.
“Good. Now, rule number one is... when you reply to a question, rather than just nodding or saying 'yeah' or 'no', I want to hear 'yes mummy' and 'no mummy'.”
“Mummy?” I baulked.
“Yes.” she said. “I don't want to hear 'mum' or 'mam' because they're not polite, and petticoated boys need to always be polite.” she said.
“But I'm thirteen mum!” I protested. “I'm far too old to start calling you mummy again.”
“Every time you fail to address me as 'mummy', I'll add one day to your four week trial.” she said. “It could easily become five, six or even seven weeks in the space of just a few hours if you're not careful.” she warned. I stuck out my lip. “It's not really a big deal Gavin.” she claimed.
“It is.” I whined.
“You'll be back in nappies so it stands to reason that you'll be calling me mummy again... and if you can't manage to address me properly, you'll be wearing your nappies for a lot longer than four weeks.” she said. I didn't reply but I did screw my face to express my disapproval. “Pulling faces like that will also result in one extra day.” she told me.
“Sorry.” I murmured.
“I hope so.” Mum replied. “And I hope from tomorrow morning, you'll add 'mummy' when you apologise... in fact I want to hear you saying mummy whenever you address me.” she stated. After a short pause, she went on to tell me about rule number two. She reminded me of all the 'nice' new things in my room; the pictures, curtains, books and dolls plus the new clothes in my drawers and wardrobe, before telling me that if I damage them in any way, either deliberately or accidentally, then the petticoating trial will be over.
“Really?!” I enthused.
“Yes.” she replied. “And before you think that's an easy get out clause, think again.” she quickly added. “The trail will be over and your petticoating will continue for as long as I feel fit.” she informed me. “...which will be a lot longer than four weeks.”
I gulped, claimed it wasn't fair and described a scenario in which my clothes get damaged but it wasn't my fault. Mum said I’d just have to take extra care to make sure anything like that doesn't happen. “...and it's not just your clothes that you have to look after Gavin. It's your books, your comics, your dolls, the pictures on your wall, your bedside lamp, your...”
“Yeah yeah I get it!” I growled.
“Taking that tone with me will also result in one day being added.” she said before claiming that in just the last five minutes I've earned myself at least an additional week. “Think yourself lucky that I'm not keeping count.” she told me. “But come tomorrow.” she added, giving me one of her serious looks.
The next few rules were relatively mundane; doing what I’m told, wearing what I'm told, no answering back, no devious or disobedient behaviour, no pulling faces, keeping my room tidy and orderly at all times, tidying up after myself, helping with the household chores, being quiet and polite and on and on she went... “No way!” I gasped.
“Gavin, you're really going to have to start thinking before you speak. You might have just earned yourself yet another day.” she said.
“Sorry.” I muttered, before gulping and humbly adding “Mummy.”
She smiled. “Now, the reason you have to sit down to pee is to stop you from tinkling on the seat or splashing the floor...”
“I don't!” I interjected.
“You do occasionally Gavin.” Mum stated. “Now, if you can't manage to sit when you pee you'll have to wear your nappies in the daytime too.” she threatened. “Do you understand?”
I gulped and nodded. Mum raised an eyebrow. “Yes... mu... mummy.” I said.
Mum makes an omelette with boiled potatoes and green beans for supper. “You're being very quiet Gavin.” she says, before suggesting that I'm worrying too much about tomorrow. Of course I'm worried about tomorrow! The last thing I want is to wear girl's clothes. Even one day would be bad enough but wearing them for weeks on end will be turmoil. Mum said that I'm worrying too much and claimed that lots of boys respond incredibly well to petticoat training. “Once you've got into the swing of things you'll realise that it's not so bad.” she claimed.
“You keep saying that but it's going to be awful. It'd probably be OK if it was just dresses but I have to wear nappies and call you Mummy... I'm not a little kid!”
“But you are Gavin.” Mum replied. “The problem with teenagers these days is they're growing up too quickly. Adolescence is a confusing time. You're beginning to develop grown-up hormones but you're still a child.” she said. “Infantilisation will help.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“Treating you like a child.” she replied. “And before you claim you're not a child... you absolutely are and will be for some years yet. Putting you back in nappies will help you realise that fact.”
“...and having to call you mummy.” I glumly added.
“Yes.” she smiled. “It's going to be nice being a mummy again.”
“It's gonna be really embarrassing.” I moaned.
“Give it a few days and you'll think nothing of it. It's just a word.”
I rested my jaw on my palm and sighed. The clock on the wall read twenty past six which means I've got barely an hour of normality left. Mum asked if I was going to help her wash the dinner plates. “Yeah I guess.” I half heartedly replied. “I mean... yes mummy.”
“I hope you're not being sarcastic Gavin.”
“I'm not.” I claimed as I grabbed the dishcloth.
“I certainly hope so.” she said.
After helping with the dishes, I watched TV for a while whilst Mum pottered around in the kitchen. Then at about ten to seven, she came in and told me she was going to run me a bath. “You've got ten minutes.” she said. I gulped. I spent more time watching the clock than I did watching the TV. Eight minutes. Six minutes. Three minutes... “Gavin!” Mum yelled from the landing to moment the clock struck seven.
Feeling condemned, I slowly climbed the stairs. Normally I'd undress in my bedroom and don my bathrobe, but Mum summoned me into the bathroom where a bath full of bubbles awaited me. Mum stood with her arms folded and bore a stern expression. “You're not going to actually bath me are you?” I fearfully asked.
“I'll do your hair and your back. The rest you can do yourself.” she said. I began to unbutton my shirt before asking for some privacy, but Mum declined my request. “You've got nothing that I haven't seen a hundred times before.” she said.
Thing is, I have. I can't remember the last time Mum saw me naked but I’m certain that I didn't have any pubic hair... not that I’ve got much. Mum took my shirt and slung it over her arm. I pulled off my socks and she took those too. I stepped out of my trousers, folded them and handed them to her, and finally let my undies drop to the floor before quickly stepping into the bath. “Gavin that was reckless... you had no idea how hot that water was!” Mum barked.
“It's not hot at all.” I said as I sank below the bubbles.
“Well it's a good job I ran you a warm bath isn't it?” she said. “In future you should test the water before jumping in.”
“Sorry.” I said, before asking if I could have some more hot water.
“It's plenty warm enough.” Mum claimed. She proceeded to rinse, then shampoo and wash my hair, before rinsing it again. I told her that I was perfectly capable of washing my own hair but Mum said she wanted it doing properly, before rinsing it again and adding some conditioner. She scrubbed my back before giving my hair a final rinse. “You can do the rest yourself.” she said before leaving me alone and the door wide open. I sat and sulked for a few moments before bathing properly and no more than five minutes later, Mum returned. “Nappy rash cream, a nappy and some rubbers.” she said, placing the items on the cistern. “You should at least try to use the toilet before you put it on.”
“I thought we weren't starting that 'til tomorrow.” I whined.
“Tomorrow starts at midnight Gavin.”
“But...” I gulped.
Mum's expression strongly suggested that she wasn't in the mood for accepting any buts. She told me where to apply the cream, to use plenty and to rub it in thoroughly. “You'll need to wash your hands before you put your nappy on...” she explained. “...and if you continue whining and kicking up a fuss, I'll start adding extra days to your four week trial. Understand?”
I hung my head. Mum asked if she needed to stand and watch over me whilst I donned my nappy. I swallowed my pride and shook my head. I'd imagined that I'd be put into the nappy like a baby, which would have been a humiliation beyond belief. Donning it myself in private I guess is one consolation, albeit a small one.
I climbed out of the bath and dried myself on a big fluffy towel, all the time glancing and gulping at the items on the cistern. Once dry, I apply the cream as instructed and screw up my nose at its pungent fruity scent. After rinsing the cream of my fingers, I hesitantly unwrap and unfold the nappy. Printed on the front is a pastel coloured design of a butterfly and some flowers, which is far from desirable. Within its folds is a slip of paper with a set if simple pictorial instructions. The nappy pulls on like a normal pair of underpants and features perforations down the sides for its removal. It's a lot thinner than I’d expected, no more than five or seven millimetres thick. I hesitated before stepping onto it and pulling it up, all the way to my waist. I can't believe that at thirteen years old, I’m actually wearing a nappy again. I can vaguely recall wearing night-timers when I was about six but at least they had boyish designs. “You've at least got it on I see!” Mum's voice said. I turned to face her. My cheeks were crimson with embarrassment. She asked if I'd put plenty of cream on and rubbed it in. Glumly I nodded. “Put your rubbers on.” she instructed, handing them to me.
With a trembling hand I took them. “This is horrible mum.” I moaned.
“Nappies aren't supposed to be nice but they are a necessary part of petticoating.” Mum sternly replied. “It won't seem so bad tomorrow night.” she claimed. “...or the night after that.”
I wasn't so sure, but I wasn't going to argue. Wearing a nappy for bed for the next four weeks is going to be bad enough and I don't want to make it five or six weeks. I stretched the waistband of the opaque rubber knickers and pushed my feet through the elasticated leg holes. They tightened their grip as I pulled them up over my knees, and as I pulled them over the nappy, I complained that the elastic felt too tight. “It's supposed to be tight Gavin, otherwise they'd leak.” she replied. “Have you brushed your teeth?”
“Not yet.” I replied.
“Well hurry up... it's twenty to eight and I need to make sure your hair's dry before bedtime.”
The pastel coloured design on my nappy is clearly visible through the translucent plastic pants. The elasticated legs and waistband seemed to bite into me as I brushed my teeth, but the worst thing about them is the two inches of frilly lace around the legs. If any of my friends could see me now, I thought. I spared a thought for Callum Morris and wondered if he was doing much the same thing at this very moment. Mum did say that it's the same for all petticoated boys; bedtime at eight and a nappy every night. My electric toothbrush is on a three minute timer so much as I'd like to, I can't cut this nightly task short. I sense my mother's presence and turn my head. She's stood in the doorway just watching me. “There's some pyjamas on your bed.” she said.
“Hmm hmm.” I say through my toothbrush. Girl's pyjamas, I presume. My toothbrush turns itself off and I spit and rinse and rinse again. I quickly scurry to my room, covering the front of my nappy with my hands. It feels a little thicker than it did five minutes ago.
On my bed is a pair of the frilly cotton over knickers Mum had bought from MotherCare, and a white pyjama top. It's clearly a girl's one, with its round lace trimmed collar, short gathered sleeves, plastic flower shaped buttons and a frilly hem. I quickly pull on the cotton over knickers to conceal my humiliating nappy and rubbers... but having row upon row of ruffled frills running across the bum, and a satin bow on the front of the waistband, they're not much better. Mum returns with a hairdryer as I'm buttoning myself into the pyjama top. She tells me I look nice. I tell her I feel stupid. “Where's the pyjama pants?” I meekly ask.
“It's summer. You don't need any.” Mum replied.
My legs are completely exposed. My pyjama top just and so covers my waistband and there's nothing to cover my frilly over-knickers. “But I can' just wear this!” I moaned.
“Of course you can Gavin.” Mum insisted, before telling me to pull out the lacy trim that's scrunched up inside my over-knickers.
“Do I have to?” I moaned. The only good thing about the over knickers is that they hid that particular detail on my rubbers, but Mum insisted that the two inch of lacy trim needs to be seen. “Why?” I asked as I exposed the ruffled lace trim.
“So I can see that you've got your rubbers on.” she replied. “Now you need to get into the habit of calling me Mummy remember.” she said in a most patronising tone. “...and you need to get out of the habit of moaning every time you're told to do something.” she added. “From tomorrow morning I'll be adding an extra day every time you don't follow the rules. Understand?”
I skewed my jaw and swallowed my pride. “Yes Mummy.” I timidly replied.
She sat my at my desk and plugged in the hairdryer. The nappy feels even thicker than it did when I donned it. After being vacuum packed in its cellophane wrap, my nappy is slowly but surely expanding around me. Through the noise of the dryer, Mum tells me that my hair feels lovely after being conditioned. She also mentions something about maybe putting it in rags after my bath tomorrow. “What's rags?” I ignorantly asked. Mum momentarily turned off the dryer and told me what they are and what they do whilst pulling a broad toothed brush through my hair. “I don't want curls.” I whined.
“They'll only last for the day.” Mum claimed, telling me that they'll easily brush out in time for school on Monday. She gave me one final blast with the hairdryer to ensure my hair was bone dry before telling me that it's time to get into bed. My baggy cotton over knickers don't seem quite so empty now. The nappy beneath them is becoming obvious and I wasted no time hiding beneath my Barbie duvet cover, pulling it all the way up to my chin. Mum perched on the edge of the mattress and looked lovingly into my eyes. She reminded me that bedtime means bed time, that she'll hear me if I get out of bed, that my door will be locked from the outside until morning, and that I’m not to remove my nappy for any reason.
“What time am I allowed out?” I asked, adding “Mummy.” for good measure.
“Well it depends what time I get up.” she replied. “It'll be seven or eight.” she supposed, before telling me that she doesn't want to hear me banging on my door before she unlocks it. “You've got your nappy if you need the toilet and I won't accept any excuses, understand?”
I frowned and nodded. “Yes mummy.” I said in my meekest voice. She kissed my forehead, closed my curtains and left. A distinct 'click' after closing my door determined that it was in fact locked. I was tempted to creep out of bed to try the handle... but if I want this trial to last no more than four weeks, I'd better do exactly as I'm told.
I turn on my side, emit a long sigh and spend a few moments feeling sorry for myself. I've lost track of how many weeks it's been since my mother first told that I'd be petticoated and I've thought of little else since. A nervous hand creeps down to my nappy which wasn't even a centimetre thick when I donned it. Now it feels closer to two inches thick. Inside it feels moist and gooey, yet warm and spongy too. It's certainly not nice but it doesn't feel as bad as I'd imagined. I only hope that I won't need it.
My new curtains don't do a great job of blacking out the light and darkness is still a couple of hours away. I doubt I'll get to sleep until then. In the half-light I spy the dolls on my bookshelves. I roll onto my back peer along my bedding. Thankfully I can't make out the huge image of Barbie printed on my duvet, but I can see its overt pinkness. I know that Mum's not actually trying to turn me into a girl but with a my room and clothing so overtly girlie, I might forget what it's like to be a boy... as normal one anyway. Mum says I’ll get used to being petticoated in no time but that's the last thing I want.
I'm not sure when I eventually drifted off to sleep, but I laid awake for ages before doing so. I awoke early but felt incredibly drowsy. I needed the toilet but knew I wasn't allowed to use it. I cupped my hands over my crotch. I could feel the plastic pants beneath the frilly cotton over knickers, and beneath those is my thick and spongy nappy. I clenched my eyes shut and squeezed, trying not to let myself go. All the while my mother's words echoed in my head; it doesn't matter if you do wet yourself, that's what your nappy's for.
Mum assured me that at thirteen years old, I wouldn't need my nappy, but after such an early bedtime and no access to the bathroom I inevitably did. The feeling of relief when I finally let go was short lived. The sense of total and utter shame as I lay in a sodden nappy lasted much longer. There's no clock in my bedroom so I wasn't sure of the time, although it does appear to be light outside. I've no idea if it's 5.00am or 7.00am. The new curtains give the half-light a pink hue. I emit a quiet yet menacing groan as I stare at the Disney Princess lampshade hanging from my ceiling, then the five ballerina paintings that decorate my walls. I can also make out the dolls on my bookshelf. All of a sudden I erupt in goose-pimples and emit a shudder when my warm wet nappy cools considerably. I hope it's not like this every morning, I thought as I shut my eyes and sighed.
A distinct click forced me to peel my eyes open. My vision was blurry to begin with, but I knew the figure entering my room was my mother. How I'd managed to drift off back to sleep I've no idea but I must have. “Sleep well Love?” she asked as she cast the curtains open, flooding my room with light.
“Not really.” I groaned before rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “What time is it?”
“Almost seven thirty.” she said. “And it's what time is it 'mummy'.” she reminded me.
“Sorry... mummy.” I gulped.
“That's OK.” she smiled. “How's your nappy?” she asked. I frowned and gulped and told her it was soaking. “Well let's see if it's leaked.” she said, grabbing the corner of my duvet cover. “If it has you'll need clean sheets.” she said, pulling the duvet to one side. “Come on, up you get.” she said.
I felt ridiculous in my nightwear; the girl's white pyjama top with its little gathered sleeves, lace trimmed collar, flower shaped buttons and ruffled hem. It did nothing to conceal my frilly cotton over knickers nor the bulbous nappy beneath them. Mum checks my bedding and proudly states that my rubber knickers have done their job. “Can I get dressed... please... mummy?” I timidly asked. She smiled at me. “It's cold and soggy.” I meekly added.
“Yes but in a moment Gavin.” she told me. “First you need to straighten your bedding and pillows.” she instructed. I did as she asked and felt her eyes following my every move. I grimaced as I straightened out the duvet with its huge Barbie print. Part of me still can't quite believe that it's on my bed. Mum tells me to make sure that it's perfectly flat so I smooth it once more. “Good boy.” she said. “Next you need to lay out your clothes for the day.” she said, directing me to the top drawer of my chest in which my underwear is kept. I pulled the drawer open and discovered a neat pile of white knickers alongside an orderly array of folded white bras. My jaw dropped a little. “Well don't just look at them Gavin.” Mum said after a short while. “You need one pair of knickers and one training bra. Your socks are in the bottom drawer.”
With a trembling hand, I reached in to the drawer and removed a pair of knickers, then quickly grabbed one of the bras. Meanwhile, Mum removed a dress from my wardrobe and laid it neatly on my duvet. I was instructed to lay out my underwear just as neatly, before being told to get some socks from my sock drawer. My socks used to be in the top drawer but that's where my underwear is now. Mum directed me toward my bedside cabinet which holds three small drawers. I pull open the top drawer. “No love, that's your nappy drawer.” Mum said. “Socks are in the bottom drawer.”
A shudder went down my spine to see the top drawer packed with nappies. I quickly shut it and open the bottom drawer. “Which ones?” I asked.
“Any you like... and you're supposed to call me mummy remember.”
“Sorry.... mummy.” I glumly replied. “I keep forgetting.”
“I'd have thought the fact that you're wearing a nappy would be enough to remind you.” mum said.
I felt myself blush. “When can I take it off? ...mummy.” I humbly asked.
“When you've got your clothes ready.” she said. “Put your socks neatly by your knickers.” she instructed.
I did as asked. Mum said she was looking forward to seeing how my dress looked. I certainly wasn't, but I was keen to get out of my soggy nappy. I unbuttoned my pyjama top and dropped my cotton over-knickers to my ankles before stepping out of them. “Do these go in the laundry?” I asked as I picked up the frilly garment, adding 'mummy'.
“Let's see.” Mum replied, taking them from me. “No they're perfectly dry so put them under your pillow ready for tonight.” she said. I trotted to the bathroom in only my nappy and rubber knickers. Mum followed and told me how to remove the nappy; it has perforated sides which tear open and goes into a lidded bucket. “Here put this on.” she said, handing me a shower cap to keep my hair dry. “And make sure you rinse all that nappy rash cream off.” she said as I stepped under the shower.
Afterwards, I scurried back to my room with a towel wrapped around me. Mum hovered and I meekly asked if I could have some privacy. Predictably she declined and told me to put my knickers on, and knowing that there'd be no getting out of it, that's exactly what I did. To be honest, after the humiliation of the nappy, the rubbers and over-knickers, a pair of frilly white knickers didn't seem so bad. Mum said they looked nice. I wasn't so sure but with their lacy trim and little satin bow, I could see where she was coming from; they'd probably be nice if I was a girl. The training bra proved to be an awkward garment to don. The straps have a mind of their own and seemingly wanted to tangle, and the back fastening was fiddly and frustrating, even after mum had shown me the 'easy' way. Mum held the dress open and I stepped into it and pushed my hands through the sleeves. She turned me around and buttoned me in. “This would be a lot easier if the buttons were on the front.” I said.
“I know but it wouldn't look as nice.” she replied. “There you are.” she said once the button was fastened. “Sit down and put your socks on.” she told me. “Good boy.” she said as I sat.
“For smoothing your dress first... I thought I'd have to tell you.”
“That's what girls do.” I humbly replied. I pulled on the socks; white and knee length. Mum complimented me again when I made sure the tops were both level. “Girls are always straightening their knee socks.” I said, before asking if I'd have to wear my new shoes with the heels today.
“I thought your blue jelly shoes would be nice today.” she said. “They match your dress.” she added. I wasn't going to argue because I’m dreading wearing those heels.
With my shoes on, Mum stepped back and told me that I looked lovely. “I feel a bit silly.” I confessed.
“Only because you're not used to looking so nice.” Mum smiled. “Now, you seem to keep forgetting to address me as 'mummy'.” she added in a more serious tone. “Remember what we talked about last night?” she asked.
I cast my mind back to 'the rules'. “Yes... sorry... Mummy.” I glumly replied. Mum smiled down on me and asked if I’d like some breakfast. “Yes please... Mummy.”
In many ways, wearing a dress isn't too dissimilar from wearing my bathrobe. That falls just below my knee whereas my dress lands a couple of inches above it. However unlike my bathrobe which hangs straight... this dress sticks out somewhat and only really brushes against my legs as I descend the stairs. It doesn't feel as bad as I'd imagined but as I catch a glance of my reflection in the hallway mirror, it does look as bad as I’d thought it would. “Corn flakes or Wheatabix?” Mum asked as we entered the kitchen.
“Err... Wheatabix please.” I replied. “Mummy.” I reluctantly added.
“Good boy.” she said as I sat. “Tuck yourself all the way in...” she suggested, pushing my chair in so I was as close to the table as possible. “...that way you're less likely to get anything on your dress.” she said.
I recalled the rules. In particular the one about damaging my clothes. It doesn't seem fair that if I accidentally got some crumbs on me means that I'd be petticoated for far longer than four weeks. It doesn't seem fair that every time I do something wrong an extra day will be added to the four weeks. In fact everything about being petticoated doesn't seem fair. Mum put a bowl of cereal under my nose, along with a glass of orange juice. “Thank you Mummy.” I meekly said. I despise calling her 'mummy' but if not doing so means extra day of petticoating then I'll use it, albeit begrudgingly. “What are we going to do today Mummy?” I asked.
“I need to do the shopping and I thought we could call in to see Granny.” she replied.
“Granny?” I gulped. It's bad enough wearing a dress in front of my mother, let alone my grandmother!
“Yes... unless you'd rather come shopping with me?”
Weighing up the options, I guess I'd rather go to my grandmother's house than shopping. But given the choice, I'd rather stay home on my own where no one can see me... but that's not going to happen. “When are we going to Granny's?” I asked before gulping and adding “Mummy.”
“Later this morning.” Mum replied.
“Does she know?”
“That you're giving petticoating a try?”
I nodded, albeit hesitantly. I hate it when she phrases it as if petticoating is something that I’m willingly participating in. But thinking about it, I guess I am willingly participating. If only to ensure the trial lasts no longer than four weeks. “Can I watch TV for bit please?” I asked, before again timidly adding 'mummy'.
“Petticoatees don't really watch TV.” Mum replied. “But you can watch one of your new DVDs if you like. Or read one of your new books.”
Having perused the titles of my DVDs, I had little interest in watching any of them, so I settled for one of the books. I don't want to read any of the girl's story books and have no interest in paper dolls or or the dolly dress up book. Fun Crafts for Girls and the cross-stitch Book seem like the best of the bad bunch to a select those and saunter downstairs with them. This time I halt for a moment and look at my reflection in the hallway mirror. It looks like someone’s put a boy's head on top of a girl's body, and the tops of my knee socks are already wonky. I frown and continue to the lounge. Mum sits listening to the radio whilst perusing the newspaper supplements. I sit myself down and glumly open the cross-stitch Book. Mum asked what I'd chosen and described them as 'nice', adding “Needlework will make a nice change from making plastic model kits.”
I might if the designs weren't all of flowers and squirrels and teddy bears. A racing car could be cool, but there's nothing like that in this book. I flick through Fun Crafts for Girls which includes pressing flowers, making pasta jewellery, macramé, crochet, collaging, bead work, origami... all sorts of stuff. Much of it looked boring but the miniature garden was quite cool, as were some of the origami animals and the string art. But most of it was sticking glittery stuff to bags, flip-flops, pencils and lollipop sticks. “Mummy.” I asked.
“Can I make a miniature garden... please?”
“Let me see.” she replied, prompting me to sit beside her. I could tell by the expression on her face that she's thoroughly enjoying seeing me wearing my dress. I felt such a ninny as I approached. Her eyes flicked from my shoes to my collar, my sleeves then my knees. She reached for the book and I sat beside her. Mum wasn't keen on the miniature garden since it involved soil and glue for the mini log cabin. “You don't want to be getting any dirt or glue on your clothes do you?” she said, before suggesting I try some of the less messy projects first.
“Yes, and cross-stitch.”
“I'd prefer origami... some of the animals are really cool.”
“There's no reason you can't do both.” she said. “In fact I’m hoping that Granny's still got some cross-stitch fabric and a frame.”
I don't really want to do any cross-stitch but if I have to, I’d rather not do any of the designs in the book. It has a section about making your own designs on graph paper, and I suggest maybe doing that. Mum tells me that the first cross-stitch project is always a sampler. “What's a sampler?” I ask. Mum flicks through the book to find an example. It doesn't look at all inspiring, just being a name, the letters of the alphabet, the numbers one to ten, some floral motifs and a patterned border. “I'd like to do a racing car or something.” I suggested. “Or does it have to be something girlie?” I asked.
“You can do anything you like.” Mum said. “...when you've done a sampler.” she added. “However we are supposed to be moving away from things like fast cars and fighter planes for the next few weeks.”
“So it does have to be girlie?” I frowned.
“Not necessarily... something 'nice' rather than 'cool'.” she replied. “You could copy the cars from your dress and put those on the sampler.” she suggested. “...instead of the floral motifs. ” she said. I fell silent and I felt embarrassed. All of a sudden I realise that I’m talking about learning how to do needlework and for a couple of minutes, it felt normal. Until Mum mentioned my dress. “How does it feel now you've had it on for a while?” she asked.
“I don't know.” I said in a slightly whiny voice. “The same I guess.” I added as I straightened the tops of my socks.
“A bit silly?” Mum knowingly asked. I frowned and nodded. She smiled and reiterated that I only feel silly because I’m not used to wearing nice clothes. “At least you're remembering to keep your socks nice and straight.” she said.
“Well you did tell me that I had to.” I glumly replied. Mum responded with a smile and asked if we should go to see Granny soon. “Can't I stay here?” I asked, adding 'please' and 'mummy'.
“You know that's not an option Gavin. You're only thirteen.” Mum replied.
I knew it was a long shot but felt it was worth a try. I took my books back to my room, combed my hair as instructed and returned downstairs. Mum was writing a shopping list so I lurked in the background whilst she checked the fridge and cupboards.
“Mum... I mean, Mummy?” I humbly asked.
“Yes?” she replied.
“Does Granny know that I have to wear nappies again?”
“Yes.” Mum told me. I frown swept my face. “You don't seem too happy about that.”
“I just don't want everyone knowing.” I glumly replied.
“It's common knowledge that most petticoated boys wear nappies for bed Gavin.” Mum informed me, before suggesting that I worry too much.
Maybe I do worry too much... but I've had a lot to get worried about over the last few weeks. Part of me wishes that she'd dropped me in at the deep end and went ahead with the petticoating the when she first mentioned it. Instead I’ve spent four weeks worrying about having to wear dresses every weekend, then worrying about having to wear a nappy every night. Then I learned that I'd also have to wear girl's underwear everyday too, even at school! And then Mum informed me that I'll be wearing girl's clothes everyday after school. I've had plenty to worry about and with no books, comics or anything in my room to distract me, I've spent much of the last few weeks thinking about how horrible being petticoated must be. The nappy certainly lived up to expectations but the dress, if I'm perfectly honest, feels a bit underwhelming. It fits me but not snugly and covers me to just above the knee, and hanging as it does from my shoulders it actually feels quite comfy. It wouldn't be so bad if the fabric wasn't quite so infantile, I wonder... before quickly chasing that thought from my mind.
The drive to my grandmother's house was uneventful after the quick dash from the front door. Mum's car has tinted windows which make it hard to see in from the outside and I willingly put myself on the back seat rather than riding 'shotgun'. My apprehension does grow as we cross town to where Granny lives. I expect she'll be fussing over how pretty I supposedly look, just like my mother's been doing all morning.
“Here he is!” Mum gushes when I'm presented to Granny. “Isn't it lovely?!” she says, drawing her attention to my dress.
Granny sighed and said it was indeed a lovely dress. “...but not for a boy.” she added.
“It's perfect for a boy.” Mum claimed. “It's got cars and trucks on it.” she added, holding out my skirt.
Granny asked me if I liked my dress. “Not really.” I frowned.
After a quick chat with Granny, Mum took herself into town and I stayed behind. “So she's finally done it.” Granny said. “I was hoping she wouldn't but she seems quite convinced that petticoating is beneficial.” she told me. “How does it feel?” she asked.
“Horrible.” I replied in my whiniest voice, before moaning about having to wear a nappy for bed.
“Well that's not so bad I suppose.” she optimistically replied.
“It's horrible!” I retorted.
“They do recommend that new petticoatees wear them day and night for the first week or two.” Granny informed me.
“Really?” I gulped.
My grandmother nodded and told me that she's also been reading all about petticoating since my mother suggested giving it a try. She also said that she doesn't really agree with it. “...but I do agree that children these days are growing up too quickly.” she added.
“I can't help it if I'm growing up too quick.” I said.
“No... but but your mother feels that petticoating can help, so you'll just have to go along with it.” she replied. “Is it as bad as you imagined?” she asked in a patronising tone.
“Worse.” I replied, sticking out my lip for effect. “Wearing a dress isn't so bad but having to wear a nappy is horrible.” I grumbled.
“Well you're old enough not to need it.” she optimistically replied. “...and now I’ve had chance to get used to seeing you in a dress, it does look quite nice, if a little 'young' for you.” she said. I felt uncomfortable as she looked me up and down; from my blue jelly shoes and white knee socks to my pale blue frock with its infantile print and broad white collar. “Did you really choose the fabric yourself?” my grandmother asked.
“Not really.” I replied. “There was one with racing cars on and another with fighter planes, but Mum wouldn't... er... Mummy wouldn't let me have those... so I ended up with this.” I explained, smoothing the fabric over my lap. “It's better than flowers or butterflies or something really girlie... but it's still a dress.”
“Well at least you're being optimistic about it.” Granny smiled. “And like you say, it could be worse.” she added.
“Yeah I guess.” I replied, before reiterating that the dress isn't so bad. “...it's being treated like a little kid.” I frowned.
“Yes... it must seem strange saying 'mummy' again.” Granny replied. I felt comfortable taking to Granny. Unlike my mother who just keeps saying that I'll get used to it, my grandmother's empathy means a lot. We watched TV and in spite of me telling her that I'm not supposed to watch TV now I'm a petticoatee, Granny said that she wouldn't tell. “What are you going to do all day if you can't watch TV?” she asked. “I doubt you'll be wanting to spend much time with your friends now you're...” she tailed off.
“I've got loads of Barbie and Princess DVDs.” I frowned, before mentioning the craft books that I'd flicked through. “I wanted to make a miniature garden but Mum said... I mean Mummy wants me to learn cross stitch first.”
“Oh yes. She asked me if I had some fabric and threads for you.” Granny replied. “I should have some graph-paper too.” she added. My grandmother is typical granny; she knits and sews and makes and mends and has a cupboard full of sewing, knitting and craft supplies. She removes bags and boxes, peeking inside each one before passing them to me to put aside. There's jars of buttons, old tins full of ribbons, lace and broderie anglaise trim. I twizzle the embroidery hoops around my wrists as Granny roots. “It always amazes me just how many things I start but don't finish.” she said, finding yet another unfinished bit of knitting or stitching.
Eventually she found the bag she was looking for. It contained several blank canvases as well as a couple of projects she'd started years ago yet had never finished.
“It's like pixels!” I said as I observed her handiwork. Granny agreed before confessing to having no idea what 'pixels' are, so I explained further. It was only when I described the blocky nature of the classic space invader sprite did she finally understand. Then I had a brainwave.
We soon returned to the lounge where I sat quietly with a pad of graph-paper on my lap and a pack of crayons on the chair arm whilst Granny completed her jigsaw. The dulcet tones of Radio 4 was the only sound until my mother returned from her shopping trip “How's he been?” Mum asked.
“As good as gold.” my grandmother replied.
Mum asked what I was doing and I showed her. “They're space invaders.” I said. “For my cross stitch sampler.” I added.
“I don't think space invaders are suitable for a sampler Gavin.” Mum replied. “We're supposed to be steering you away from things like that.”
“I think it's very creative.” Granny chirped. “If he's going to learn cross stitch he'll enjoy it all the more doing something that sparks his enthusiasm.”
“Well I suppose.” Mum replied, before suggesting that I make she and Granny a pot of tea. This was nothing unusual. Ever since I was old enough to boil a kettle I've been making cups of tea and coffee for my mother. I loitered in the kitchen whilst the kettle boiled. I'd somehow managed to put my attire out of my mind whilst I was busy drawing on the graph-paper, but now I can't help but look down at myself.
I carefully deliver the tea tray to the lounge and place it on the coffee table. Mum was showing Granny what she'd been buying. “Oh you should have said... I’ve got a bag full of ribbon.” Granny told her.
“It didn't cross my mind.” Mum replied, before saying that she wanted some in the same shade of blue as my dress.
“That's not for me is it!?” I grimaced, adding “Mummy” when my mother glared at me.
“It is.” she replied. “I bought you these too.” she added, removing an item from the bag. I gulped as she handed me a blister-pack of girl's hair accessories. It contains three Alice bands in white, pink and pale blue, six hair slides in the same colours and six bows; one pair in plain white, another with pale blue spots and a pair with pale pink spots. “I know you're not keen on pink but I bought it for the white and blue ones.” Mum informed me.
I recalled the rules and made damn sure that my four weeks of petticoating didn't get extended. “Thank you Mummy.” I meekly said.
“You're welcome.” my mother smugly smiled.
Granny gave me an empathetic smile and I forced a smile in return. Mum told her that she'd completely forgotten about hair accessories when she was buying my new clothes. “Do I have to wear some now?” I meekly asked.
“No.” Mum smiled, taking the pack from my hands. “We'll save those 'til we get home.” she said. “...but I’d like to try some of this ribbon in your hair.” she added, holding it against my dress and declaring it an almost perfect match. “Have you got some scissors Mum?” she asked.
“In the kitchen drawer.” Granny replied.
“Would you mind Gavin?” Mum asked. I sheepishly went to fetch them and emitted a huge sigh once I was out of earshot. She'll be buying me lipstick next, I feared. I returned with the scissors and before long I found myself wearing a pale blue satin ribbon in my hair with a floppy bow tied just off centre. I couldn't see it but could certainly feel it. Mum said it looked nice but I didn't believe her. I resumed drawing on the graph paper but struggled to put the bow in my hair out of my mind.
After half an hour or so, Mum said it was time for us to leave. As usual, Granny said goodbye with a hug and a kiss. “I'll see you next Saturday?” she asked.
“Actually Mum.” my mother chirped before I could reply. “...would you like to join us for lunch tomorrow.” she asked. Granny declined since she already has a lunch arrangement with some old friends. “Oh that's a pity... I wanted to show you Gavin's Sunday dress.”
“Well maybe next week?” Granny said.
Mum asked if I'd had a nice time as she drove me home. “Yes.” I honestly replied, hastily adding 'mummy' before I got that look. “Am I going again next week?” I asked.
“Yes... unless you want to come shopping.” Mum replied.
“I'd rather go to Granny's.”
“I'm sure you would.” she smiled.
We arrived home and my attempted dart from the car to the front door failed. “Not so fast young man!” Mum said, “You can take these in.” she told me as she passed me two bags of shopping. I hurried indoors. Mum followed, also carrying a bag in each hand. “There's two more.” she told me.
“Oh but Mummy what if someone sees me?” I whined.
Mum reminded me of the rules, in particular the one about doing what I'm told, when I'm told. “It's your first day and you've been very compliant so far... so I'll let you off this once.” she said, before telling me to fetch the remaining bags from the car.
I couldn't help but glance down the driveway to check if anyone might see me. I suppose from a certain distance anyone who does see me will presume the kid in the dress is a girl, especially with the floppy bow tied in my hair. I turn my back to the street, lean into the boot and grab the remaining carrier bags. I place one by my feet and slam the boot shut before picking it up. “Hello Gavin!” a familiar voice says. I gulp and turn the see the neighbour stood right behind me. “I see your mother gone ahead and done it.” she says, looking me up and down.
“Yes.” I glumly reply as I feel myself begin to blush.
“Is she in?” the neighbour asked.
“Yes.” I replied, before leading her indoors. “Mummy...”
“Oh hello!” my mother said the the neighbour.
“Hi.” the neighbour replied. “I noticed Gavin was wearing a dress so I though I'd pop round to see how he's getting on.” she said. “He looks quite sweet considering.” she added, looking me up and down.
Mum agreed and proudly told her that I'd chosen the fabric myself, before suggesting I take my things to my room. She put the blister pack of hair accessories in with the cross-stitch fabric and pad of graph-paper that Granny had given me. A wry smile crossed the neighbour's face as I took the bag and meekly said “Thank you Mummy.”
“Coffee?” Mum offered as I left the kitchen.
“Please.” the neighbour replied. “He looks quite comfortable doesn't he.” I overheard her add as I climbed the stairs. The annoying thing is... in spite of the fact that I know that I look ridiculous, I do feel quite comfortable. Not that I'd readily admit that to many people.
I opened my bedroom door and tutted. The big picture of Barbie on my duvet grins at me whilst the three dolls on my bookshelf watch with blank expressions. I pull out my chair and sit, resting the carrier bag on my lap. I gulp and look at my reflection. The bow in my hair looks stupid but if I was a girl I'd probably be thinking how pretty it looks. I'd probably also be enthusiastically ripping open the pack of hair bands, clips and slides and trying them all... but I’m a boy and I don't really know what to do with them. I leave the pack as is and place it on one side of the desk, turning my attention to the sheet of graph-paper I'd been doodling on. I'd work on the designs further but I haven't got any pencils and I don't want to ask Mummy for one until that neighbours gone. Instead I remove the Cross-Stitch for Beginners books from my shelf and briefly peruse the other titles; The Princess and the Pauper, A Little Princess, The Disney Princess Annual, Princess Adventures... I exhale long and hard. I hope I’m not expected to read them all, I wonder as I return to my desk and open the cross-stitch book. As I read, I can't help but think about my friends... I can imagine what they'd say if they could see me now:
Why are you wearing a dress? … Because Mummy said I have to. … You still call your mum mummy? … Yeah. … You've got loads of girl's things. ... I know. … Are those your dolls? … Not really. Kind of. ... What are you reading? … A book about needlework … What are those on the radiator? … Oh cripes!
I glanced around my room as I imagined the conversation and spotted my rubber knickers hung over my radiator. I quickly shove them under my pillow. Out of sight, out of mind... almost.
A while later, my mother comes to my room and asks what I'm doing. “Just reading.” I reply, adding 'mummy' just in case. “Is that lady still here?” I asked. Mum said she'd left and asked where my rubber knickers had gone. “Err... I put them under my pillow.” I timidly replied.
“With your pyjamas?” she said. I nodded. “Were they dry?” she asked. I nodded, but wasn't sure. “Good boy.” she smiled. “Shall we see how some of these look?” she said, picking up the pack of hair accessories she'd bought me.
I figured that she was unlikely to take no for an answer, so I gulped and nodded. They can't be much worse than the floppy blue ribbon I'm currently sporting. I sit and gorp at my reflection as Mum faffs with my hair; parting in various places and putting the slides in, then the clips with the bows and finally one of the Alice bands. All the while she's muttering positive utterances. “Mummy?” I ask.
“Yes?” she replied.
“Am I supposed to pretend to like this or...?”
Mum talked to me about the difference between honesty and tact, and when one is more appropriate than the other. She cited examples such as an underwhelming Christmas gift; it's better to say that you really like it when you really don't. “If you can't think of anything positive to say, then most of the time it's just better to say nothing.” she added.
I skewed my jaw as I observed my reflection. “Why's it called an Alice band?” I asked.
“Because Alice in Wonderland wore one.” Mum replied.
“Oh.” I said. “It looks better than that ribbon, I suppose.” I added.
“I think so too.” my mother smiled, before telling me that she likes the bow clips best of all.
I spent much of Saturday afternoon working on my sampler design. It needs to have the letters of the alphabet in both upper and lower case, and the numbers one to ten. Plus my name, age, the year, a border and some decorative dividers. I think Mum would prefer I did hearts and flowers but said that it's OK if I'd rather do space invaders. As I draw the shapes and fill in the squares on my sheet of graph-paper, I can't help but intermittently glance at my reflection in the vanity mirror on my desk. I gulp at my round lace trimmed collar and the infantile print on my pale blue dress, then grimace at the short puffed 'princess' sleeves which leave my arms looking thinner than usual. I focus on my doodling and try to put my girlie attire out of my mind for a while.
“Are you ready for some supper soon?” Mum asked as she popped into my room. I asked the time and Mum said it was almost 5pm. Time really does fly when you're having fun! I'd begun a proper design for my cross-stitch sampler, with my name at the top above a space invader divider, then another divider followed by the letters of the alphabet in capitals and lower case. Another divider of four space aliens separated the letters from the numerals, then the words 'take me to your leader' at the bottom. Mum chuckled and suggested that I think of something other than 'take me to your leader'. “What's the space here for?” she asked, pointing out the void between my name and the alphabet.
“The date.” I replied, but wasn't sure if it should state only the year or the day, month and year. “If I do the full date I’ll have to leave it 'til last.” I suggested. To me it makes more sense to put the date of completion rather than the date it was started. Mum agreed.
Mum had made pork chops for supper with mashed potatoes, carrots and peas. “Sit right up to the table Gavin.” she advised. “Then you won't drop anything on your dress.” she added. I shuffled my chair right in but being so close to the table felt too close. On the rare occasion that we eat out, in a restaurant or somewhere, we tend to place a napkin on our laps and I suggested that. “Maybe I'll get you an apron.” Mum suggested, describing the old fashioned pinafore style as seen in period dramas on TV.
I honestly didn't like the idea of wearing the sort of apron my mother described, but if accidentally ruining my dress means being petticoated indefinitely, I knew it would serve a very good purpose. “I'd like one of it wasn't too frilly.” I meekly said.
Mum smiled and suggested the possibility of us one. “Learning to sew will be one of your activities.” she informed me.
I gulped before putting a modest forkful of food in my mouth. As I chewed I considered what other activities I might be doing, and after swallowing I hesitantly enquired about them. “Oh lots of things.” Mum replied. “There's your cross stitch...” she said. “...and plenty of things in you crafts books.” she added. “There's active play after school each day.” she told me. “...and Sunday is a rest day.”
“What's active play?” I asked. Mum raised her eyebrow. “Mummy.” I added.
“Well as you know, you won't be doing PE at school whilst you're petticoated.” she restated. “...so you'll be getting your exercise at home instead.” she said.
“I can't do PE at home.” I whined. Mum said I could and listed hopscotch and skipping. “I don't know how to skip.” I muttered.
“You'll learn.” Mum replied. “I've got you a hula-hoop too.” she informed me.
“I can't do that either.” I claimed.
Mum smiled and smugly delivered her 'if a girl can do it...' mantra. After supper I politely thanked my mother and felt embarrassed for saying 'mummy'. Then she only added to my embarrassment by asking if I’d like to help 'mummy' do the dishes. I was put on drying duties to avoid getting my dress splashed with soapy greasy water. “Mummy?” I asked as my chore was almost done. “Can I watch TV for a bit before bed, please?” I asked.
“Well it's Saturday night, why don't we watch one of your DVDs?”
“All my good ones are in the loft.” I moaned.
“And there's plenty you've not even watched in your bedroom.”
“I know but...” I tried to explain by simply changing my expression.
Mum cocked her head. “I know for a fact that you enjoyed Brave, Aladin and Mulan at the cinema.” she said, before suggesting I have a look in 'my' Disney Princess DVD box set. I did enjoy those films but I was much younger then... however when mum began suggesting films I haven't seen, such as Cinderella or Snow White, I quickly got over my apathy and opted to watch Brave.
I doubt I'd shout about it to my school friends on Monday but I enjoyed watching Brave as much as a thirteen year old as I did when I was seven. “Right...” Mum said as the end credits rolled. “...shall we get you in the bath and ready for bed?”
“Already?” I gulped. The time is barely twenty to seven.
“By the time it's full it'll be ten-to.” Mum replied. I skewed my jaw and rose from my chair, put the DVD back in its case and returned it to my room. Mum began filling the bath before coming to unfasten the buttons running down the back of my dress. “What do you say?” she said as I began to remove it.
“Thank you Mummy.” I sheepishly said.
She smiled and slid the Alice band from my hair. I'd pretty much got used to its presence and had almost forgotten about it. She ran her fingers through my hair and said “I'm looking forward to seeing this with some curls.” She smiled. I chose my words carefully before telling her that I didn't want curly hair, but Mum assured me that they'd only last the day. “None of your school friends will ever know.” she claimed.
I removed a nappy from my drawer and took the rubbers from the radiator and placed both on the cistern. As before, the bath was warm rather than hot and full of bubbles. Mum washed, conditioned and rinsed my hair before leaving me alone to bathe. I returned to my room wearing my nappy and rubbers and mum asked if I'd put plenty of nappy rash cream on. “Yes Mummy.” I mumbled as she rooted my pyjamas from beneath my pillow. I use the term loosely as my pyjamas consist of a girl's pyjama top and the baggy cotton over knickers that conceal my nappy. Mum sits me at my desk and blow dries my hair, then squirts a dollop of mousse into the palm of her hand and begins rubbing it in to my hair. “What's that for? ...Mummy?” I hesitantly asked.
“It's to help your curls hold.” she said. Half an hour later I found myself sat cross-legged on a cushion in the lounge and Mum is tying the last of the rags in my hair. I can't imagine getting to sleep but Mum assures me that I will. “I used to love having my hair in rags when I was a girl.” she said, adding that hers was much longer than mine. A hair net was added to stop the rags working loose in my sleep. After a goodnight kiss I took myself to my room, pausing for a moment in front of the big hallway mirror. I can't describe what my head looks like, but my nappy has already expanded from being vacuum packed and now fills my cotton over knickers. It, like my head looks bulbous and frankly, I look ridiculous. With a deep sigh and heavy heart I trundled up to my bedroom and climbed into bed.
When I woke I wondered what was on my head for a moment. Then I recalled Mum putting my hair in rags and all became clear. When Mum came to me, she opened my curtains and asked if I'd slept well. “Yes Mummy.” I meekly replied. She asked if I was dry and I shook my head then hung it.
“Well let's get your clothes ready, then you can have a shower.” she smiled. “Your rags look like they've all stayed in.” she commented. “I can't wait to see how it looks.”
I removed a clean pair of knickers and a training bra from my underwear drawer and laid them on my bed. Mum said I'd be wearing tights today and put a pair by my undies, before telling me to get my Sunday dress out of my wardrobe. I wasn't looking forward to wearing it but I was looking forward to getting out of my humbling nightclothes and sodden nappy. Mum checked my bedding and discovered that my rubbers had leaked a little which meant I had to strip my bed of its sheet and duvet cover. I was glad to put Barbie in the laundry basket, but not as glad as I was to get out of my nightclothes and nappy and under the warm shower. A plastic shower cap kept my netted hair dry.
Before long I found myself being buttoned into my Sunday dress. Compared to yesterday's infantile and colourful car print, the pale green and white stripes are a welcome alternative. However the thin white tights that clad my legs feel weird, and wearing my heeled shoes for the first time since I tried them in the shoe shop makes me feel a little too tall for comfort. Even when sat at my desk the heels feel significant because my knees are too high. “This is going to look lovely!” Mum exclaimed having removed half of my rags.
I couldn't share in her enthusiasm as I watched via my mirror. If anything I'm going to look more ridiculous than I ever imagined... but my main concern is that my curls do come out in time for school tomorrow as my mother had claimed. She faffed with it; separating each curl into two or three short loose spirals, then she put a couple of clips in. “Oh mu-um... mummy... that looks silly.” I protested. It looked bad enough being curly but the addition of a bow on either side of my crown seemed like a step too far. Mum told me that they looked nice, and claimed that I only think it looks silly because I'm not used to wearing hair accessories. Maybe she's right, but I still feel silly even if, as she claims, I do look nice. “Be careful in those heels.” she advised as I rose from my seat. Mum stood back and looked me up and down. She bore a smug, almost triumphant smile.
I don't think I've ever descended the stairs so cautiously, nor observed myself so closely. A stockinged knee appeared with every step. I could feel the nylon shift and stretch over my legs. My short curls brushed the tops of my ears and when my heels clanked against the hardwood hallway floor, I was greeted with an almost complete reflection of myself. My jaw dropped a little but I forced myself not to loiter. “Are my shoes supposed to be this noisy?” I asked as they clicked and clacked to the kitchen.
“Polite boys say 'mummy' before asking a question.” my mother reminded me.
“Sorry.” I gulped. “Mummy?” I meekly asked.
“Yes Gavin.” Mum replied in a patronising tone. I reiterated my question and was told that whilst heeled shoes do make a noise, I should endeavour to tread lightly in them. “Remember what the lady in the shoe shop said.”
I cast my mind back to the humiliation of being led back and forth in the shoe shop; be cautious yet confident, walk with grace not haste, step on both toe and heel... it'd be a lot easier if these shoes didn't have a heel. Maybe I should have been more proactive in the shoe shop and expressed a preference for those ubiquitous ballet shoes all the girls tend to wear. At least then I’d be walking around in flats rather than tottering on heels all day... not that I did much of anything on Sunday. Mummy said that Sunday is a 'rest' day for petticoated boys which means sedentary activities such as reading... that kind of thing. I wanted to continue working on my cross-stitch design but mum suggested I read one of my new story books. “...but they're all girl's books Mummy.” I reluctantly moaned.
“They're also petticoated boy's books Gavin.” my mother replied. “Now if you can't find something to read, maybe we'll go for a nice stroll in the park and feed the ducks instead.” she said.
Time ticked slowly and the stories in Once Upon a Wish didn't help. The central characters wished for a new pair of shoes, a best friend, to become a princess and wear elegant dresses. The Girl's Own Adventure book was better, but only marginally. Mum recommended one of her favourite childhood books; Anne of Green Gables. A story about an orphan who's sent to live on a farm in rural Canada, the problem is, they wanted a boy to help out on the farm but got sent a girl instead. She also suggested A Little Princess, but the title alone put me off.
After an enjoyable roast dinner, I helped Mum tidy the kitchen before we put some clean sheets on my bed. The fairy castle duvet cover may not be ideal, but it's a welcome change from a big picture of Barbie. Once that was done, I dusted my furniture and vacuumed the carpet. Mum suggested we watch another of my Disney Princess DVDs, but her preference for Cinderella prompted me to continue reading Anne of Green Gables.
The story so far didn't really engage me but I could relate to Anne... she feels out of place in her new life just as I feel out of place in mine... although for me, four weeks from now everything should go back to normal. No more dresses and no more nappies!
Sunday dragged on but bath time came far too early. Thankfully the curls dropped right out of my hair after being washed and conditioned and blow dried. With my pyjama top in the laundry basket, a girl's nightie lay waiting on my bed alongside a clean pair of white cotton over knickers. The nightie is lilac with short capped sleeves and lettuce edge hems, and a crescent moon and clouds printed on the front. It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't have 'sweet dreams' printed in pink glittery lettering. But at least it covers my frilly cotton over knickers and bulbous nappy... just.
The next day I hoped would be a brief return to normality since I'd be wearing my school uniform... but beneath it I'm wearing my training bra and knickers. I didn't really give my girlie underwear any thought when I had my dresses on but now I'm wearing my own familiar clothes, my underwear is in the forefront of my mind. I glance in Callum's direction as I enter my form room but we don't make eye contact. I don't know him very well because we never seemed to have anything in common, yet now I know what we do have in common leaves me wondering if I want to know him any better.
Jason approached me during morning break and asked “Did she go ahead and do it?”
I gulped and nodded. “You won't say owt will you?”
“Nah.” he replied. “What's it like?” he asked.
“Shite.” I moaned. “But I'd rather not talk about it.” I added.
“Fair enough.” he said, glancing at my chest. I got the feeling that he was looking through my jumper and shirt to the training bra beneath, but maybe I'm just being paranoid. I shifted the focus from myself and asked him what he'd done over the weekend. “Not a lot... went to town on Saturday and played FIFA all day yesterday.” he replied.
“Did you win?” I dryly asked. He enthused over some memorable moments. Meanwhile, the events of my weekend flashed through my mind. “My Playstation's in the loft for the next four weeks.” I frowned.
“My cousin's allowed a Playstation.” Jason replied. “He's not allowed any decent games though.” he added. “It's all Barbie's Puppy Rescue and Lego Friends, Dance Star and Enchanted Journey.”
“Blimey... I'm glad Mum put mine in the loft.” I glumly said.
In the afternoon, one of my teachers asked me to stay back for a moment after class and asked how I was getting on. “OK Miss.” I replied.
“Well I hope so.” she smiled. “I just wanted to remind you that we take bullying and harassment very seriously so if you experience anything, don't hesitate to let me or another teacher know.”
“Err... OK Miss... but I haven't.”
“That's good.” she said. “I know how tricky it can be for new petticoatees.” she added. I gulped and wondered how she knew. She gave me a pursed smile which I expect she felt might reassure me, but it didn't. “Just remember that petticoating isn't a punishment.” she said.
“Yes Miss.” I gulped.
“And it's nothing to be ashamed of either.” she added as she rose from her desk and stood alongside me. “Now... I need to check that you're not removing your training bra.” she told me, resting her fingers on my back and feeling for the fastening on the back of my chest band. “You'll be amazed how many boys think they can slip it off in the toilets and put it back on before going home.” she said.
“How many others are there?” I asked.
“Well I'm not at liberty to say Gavin... but you're not the only one.” she claimed. She went onto explain that each day I'll be randomly held back after one of my classes so a teacher can check that I’m not breaking the rules.
I could feel myself blushing as I headed to my final class of the day. Knowing that all my teachers know that I'm now a petticoatee doesn't sit easy with me. I fear that it's only a matter of time before rumours begin to circulate as they had with Callum's trip to PettiCamp. I wonder what that's like?
“How was school?” my mother asked when I returned home.
“OK Mummy.” I meekly replied, before asking if all my teachers know that I’ve been petticoated.
“Yes.” Mum replied, before telling me to go and change. “...and put some clean knickers on.” she added as I sauntered up the stairs.
On my bed lay the clothes I'd laid out this morning; a white blouse with both lacy and frilly details, a pair of powder blue shorts with attached matching braces, a white camisole vest, a pair of white ankle socks with frilly cuffs, and on the floor my blue jelly shoes. I hung up my school uniform, pulled on a clean pair of knickers, donned the camisole over my training bra and stepped into the shorts. They fasten at the back with a button and zip whilst having four buttons in the front purely as decoration. They sit high and snug on my waist and are so short they leave my legs fully exposed. With the braces dangling I don the blouse which also fastens at the back. “Mummy!” I meekly call from the top of the stairs. “Can you do my buttons please?” I ask when she appears.
“Of course.” she replied, climbing the stairs.
After buttoning me in and adjusting the braces to the correct length, Mum began faffing with my hair and put a couple of slides in, holding my fringe off my face. It looked bizarre but I didn't say anything. Mum said I looked very cute and removed a small item from between the dolls on my bookshelf. “What's that?” I asked, quickly adding “Mummy.” before she could raise her eyebrow.
“It's a nanny-cam.” she said, holding the device so I could see it. No bigger than a reel of cotton, the small wi-fi camera has been spying on me probably since Friday evening and I was rightly disgruntled.
“I haven't been spying on you Gavin. I've been keeping an eye on you.” she told me. “You've been very good so far; getting straight into bed and staying there 'til morning.” she added. “Let's keep it that way shall we.” she said.
Mum took me down to the kitchen and out onto the patio, grabbing her smart-phone on the way. Scrawled in chalk on the concrete slabs is the recognisable hopscotch grid. Mum asked if I've ever played before. I shook my head. “Well the first thing you need is a stone.” she said. “...not too big and not too small and not too round so it won't roll... and take one from the raised beds that hasn't got any dirt on.”
The area around the patio isn't overlooked by any of our neighbours but the raised beds are. I dash over the lawn, spend a couple of seconds finding a suitable stone and dart back with it. “Is this OK … Mummy?”
“Perfect.” Mum smiles, taking it from me and demonstrating how the game should be played. After a couple of runs she gives the stone to me. “Now you try.”
I felt incredibly sheepish as I hopped and skipped up and down the court. I staggered when retrieving my stone which would have meant my turn would be over, but since I’m playing solo, I just begin again, tossing the stone into the first square, skipping over it, hopping up the court and back. “Well done!” Mum says. “Now toss the stone into number two.” she said. “Good.”
This is going to get hard when I'm aiming for the high numbers, I think as I toss the stone into number three and it lands dangerously close to the line. Mum's stood by the patio table but is paying more attention to her phone than me. I skip and hop up the court and return. Mum tells me to continue playing for fifteen minutes. She shows me her phone which displays an image of the patio and me in the centre. I gulp and glance at the tiny camera perched on the table with its lens facing me. “I'll be keeping an eye on you.” Mum said, before leaving me alone.
I just stood for a moment before returning to the game. My friends are going to think I'm such a sissy if any of this gets out, I think as I skip and hop, knowing that I'm being watched and maybe even recorded. On mum's phone the image was too small to clearly be me... it could have been anyone wearing little blue shorts and a prissy white blouse with pale thin legs, frilly ankle socks and girlie blue jelly shoes.
As predicted, getting the stone into the higher numbered squares was difficult. But rather than ending my turn and starting again I continued aiming for square number six until I got it. “Yesss” I hissed before hopping up the court, skipping over my stone... hop, skip, step, turn, back, hop, skip, grab, hop, hop, hop.
After some ten minutes I could feel myself getting out of breath. All this skipping and hopping is harder than it looks and getting my stone in the correct square without bouncing out requires both concentration and skill. For a little girl's game, hopscotch is more fun than I expected. Mum appeared with a glass of orange juice for me. “Thank you Mummy.” I said before gulping it down. Mum told me not to gulp. “Sorry... Mummy.”
“If you get orange juice on your blouse it might stain.” she said. “Then it'd be ruined.” she added, subtly reminding me of the consequences. “I don't supposed you've ever played with one of these before either.” Mum asked, revealing a skipping rope. I gulped and shook my head. Mum quickly demonstrated before handing the rope to me. “It might not come naturally but just keep trying.” she said. “You've got fifteen minutes.”
Mum watched for a moment as I tried and failed to skip with a rope. “Can't I just keep playing hopscotch?” I asked.
“I'd rather you kept trying.” Mum replied. “Girls can do it so there's no reason why a boy can't.” she stated before leaving me alone.
It was a humbling fifteen minutes. Why is something that looks so simple so difficult for me? I managed a couple of proper skips but certainly didn't get into the swing of it. When mum returned I was out of puff and disheartened. “It's really hard.” I moaned.
“With practice it'll come.” she said before taking me indoors. After my thirty minutes of active play it's homework time. Mum sent me to my room with my school bag as well as the little wireless nanny-camera and told me to put it on the bookshelf between my dolls with its lens facing the window.
I glanced at my reflection as I passed the hallway mirror. These 'cute' shorts with their broad blue braces over my prissy white blouse look far worse than either of my dresses did. They wouldn't be quite so bad if they were a bit longer but as they are, they couldn't get any shorter. I put the camera on the shelf and frowned at it. I wonder if it records or just watches. The thought of there being video evidence of me wearing a nappy, climbing into my Barbie bed, stepping into my dresses or being buttoned into my blouse sent shivers down my spine. “Does it record sound?” I wondered aloud. I certainly hoped not.
I couldn't help but intermittently glance toward my dolls as I worked through my homework assignments. The camera sits discreetly between them. Its unblinking eye always watching. I'm tempted to shove it back a little so the folds of a doll's dress would obscure its view but Mum would see and I’d probably get in trouble.
Over supper I asked if the camera records what it sees and disappointingly, Mum said it did. However she also said that its memory card has limited space and it all gets deleted in the mornings. “...after I've reviewed it to make sure you stayed in bed all night.” she added.
“I do.” I defensively stated.
“I know.” Mum replied, before telling me that it does record the sound too. After supper she showed me a short section of video of me playing hopscotch. “Oh that's nice... look you're smiling.” Mum said, pausing the clip and zooming into my face. “I can even capture a still.” she said, opening a menu on her phone and tapping on 'save still to memory'.
“Please don't show that to anyone Mummy.” I pleaded.
“Well since you asked so nicely.” mum replied. “But I will be showing some of them to Granny if that's OK with you?” she added. I gulped and nodded. “Why don't you spend an hour on your cross-stitch design before your bath.” she suggested.
“OK Mummy.” I meekly muttered.
The following day, my morning routine began when Mum unlocked my bedroom door. She opened my curtains and asked if I was dry. I shook my head. Under my mother's direction, I laid out the clothes I’d be wearing when I got home from school before having a quick shower. Tonight I'll be wearing a cute yellow T shirt with a Princess Aurora print and a yellow gingham skirt; tiered with broderie anglaise trim. I'm not looking forward to it but at least it'll cover my pale skinny legs more than those shorts did.
At school, Mrs Brennand asked me to stay back after class before going for lunch. She asked how I was getting along and discreetly pressed her fingers into the middle of my back, checking that I hadn't removed my training bra. “Now don't forget you'll be joining the homework group instead of PE for the last period.” she reminded me.
“Yes Miss.” I replied.
“It's in the study room opposite the library.” she informed me before letting me go.
I couldn't help but worry that one of the kids might innocently pat me on the back, or somehow haphazardly brush it and feel the fastening on the back of my training bra. After lunch I had double history followed by what would have been double PE. I headed toward the library whilst the other kids went in the opposite direction. “Oi Gav.” a voice called. I stopped and turned. “You going to the homework group?”
“Yeah.” I mournfully replied.
“How come?” Callum asked. I skewed my jaw, gulped and timidly told him that I've been petticoated. “I'd be careful who I’d say that to if I were you.” he told me. “One friend found out about me going to PettiCamp this summer and now everyone knows.”
“What is PettiCamp?”
“I'm sure you can guess.” he dryly retorted. “If anyone else asks why you're not doing PE, don't tell them the truth... tell them you've got asthma or a chest infection or something.”
“I get the feeling there's quite a few of us.” I said as we approached the library. “Is everyone in the homework group one?”
“Nah... some really do have asthma.” he said before pushing the study room door open.
Inside is twelve, maybe fifteen kids. Some sit alone, some in pairs. Most are boys and there's a few girls too. We study in relative silence with Mrs Brennand watching over us for the entire double period. The end of school bell rings and we pack up our books and filter out. Callum and I head in the same direction and I ask how long he's been petticoated for. “About eight months.” he replied, adding “Since my birthday.”
“That's ages.” I said.
“Tell me about it.” he moaned. “It was the worst birthday ever.”
“Why?” I asked. I cringed the moment I said it. What a stupid question! Unlike me who'd been pre-warned, Callum was dropped in at the deep end on the morning of his thirteenth birthday. He was hoping for an X-Box One and loads of cool games but instead he got loads of girl stuff and hasn't been a normal boy since. “Blimey!” I gasped. “I hope I don't get loads of girl stuff for my birthday.”
“When is it?”
“Couple of weeks.” I replied, before telling him that my mother delayed my month long trial to make sure that my birthday fell within it. “I hope I don't get loads of girl stuff.”
“You will.” he claimed. “I reckon your mum's four week trial is just a ploy to get you started.”
“Don't say that.” I gulped, fearful that his theory might be correct. It doesn't make any sense for my mother to spend loads of money on clothes, shoes, books and films just for a few weeks. Callum and I went our separate ways at the school gates. I wondered home mulling over whether or not to ask my mother about my four week trial. I also imagined how it must have felt for Callum; being dropped into petticoating on his birthday of all days! I guess Mum was right when she said I was lucky that I had a few weeks to get my head around it.
A shudder went down my spine as I recalled the clothes I’d laid out this morning. “Oh god.” I groaned as I unwittingly visualised myself skipping on the patio whilst dressed as a daffodil, and before too long I found myself doing just that... but without the actual skipping bit. The tiered gingham skirt was far shorter than I imagined and was afraid to jump too high for fear of flashing my knickers. Every time I swung the rope over my head it got snagged on my foot... but eventually I managed a couple of skips before slipping up.
After fifteen minutes of trying to skip with a rope I had fifteen minutes of skipping and hopping up and down my hopscotch court. I did my best to stop my skirt from bouncing up but afterwards when mum showed me a movie clip of me playing hopscotch, I realised that my best wasn't good enough. “It's too short Mummy.” I whined when I realised just how often I'd flashed my panties.
Mum agreed that my skirt was short but claimed that it wasn't too short. “It's short because you need to get some sun on these.” she said, patting her hand on my lap.
“Why?” I asked. “Mummy.” I muttered.
“Because they'll look nicer with a bit of a tan.”
“But I'm only going to be petticoated for four weeks... why does it matter?”
“It's going to be four weeks and a day if you keep this up young man.” she sternly stated. I hung my head an apologised. Mum adopted a calmer tone and said that I'll get a nice tan after playing outside for a few days which will begin to fade in a few weeks. “Have you got some homework to do?” she asked.
“I did it all in that homework group.” I replied.
“How was that?”
“OK... just a bunch of kids doing their homework instead of PE.” I said. I chose not to tell her about my chat with Callum. I don't want to give her any ideas.
“Well in that case you can do some more active play.” she smugly told me. My face dropped. “Come on.” she encouraged. “You've almost got the hang of your skipping rope and when you do get the hang of it you'll enjoy it.”
“But my skirt's too short for skipping.”
“Nonsense.” Mum said. “Anyway if you're not flashing your knickers then you're not skipping high enough.”
“You're only trying to embarrass me Mummy. You wouldn't say that if I was a girl.” I bashfully retorted.
“I'm trying to embarrass you into not worrying so much about your knickers Gavin.” my mother cheerfully claimed.
I could feel my blushes as held the rope at the back of my calves, took a moment to breathe and swung it over my head... only to miss my timing and catch the rope on my ankle. I tried and failed a few times before Mummy suggested a rhyme to help my timing. “I don't know any.” I meekly replied.
“Well there's a book full of skipping rhymes in your bedroom... or you could just make one up.” she said, suggesting something like one petticoat, two petticoat, three petticoat, four... five petticoat, six petticoat, seven petticoat, more...
I assumed the starting position and swallowed my pride, swung the rope and recited the rhyme. “One petticoat, two petticoat, three petticoat, four... five petticoat, six petticoat, seven petticoat, more...” I came to deliberate standstill. “Mummy I did it!” I grinned.
“You did.” she grinned. “...but you don't have to stop at the end of the rhyme... you can keep on counting, start at the beginning again or just make something up.”
I began again. “One petticoat, two petticoat, three petticoat, four... five petticoat, six petticoat, seven petticoat, more... eight petticoat, nine petticoat, ten petticoat, twelve...” I stopped and bashfully said that I'd missed out number eleven.
“That doesn't matter.” Mum replied. “The main thing is you're learning.”
With a rhyme to help me skip in time and not worrying so much about my little skirt bouncing up and down, I spent a good twenty minutes skipping happily on the patio... not that I'd admit that to any of my friends. I was out of puff and Mummy told me that I'd had enough active play for today. I wrapped up my skipping rope and took it to my room, proud that I'd sussed out how to use it. I intended to work on my cross-stitch design but first I scanned the titles on my bookshelf and removed the book titled Skipping and Rhyming Games for Girls.
Many I recall from junior school; Sailor sailor, Cinderella dressed in blue, Pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker's man and One two buckle my shoe. Some were completely new to me and this one I found most curious; Naughty Jack all dressed in black with silver buttons down his back. He told a lie and then he cried and stole a hanky for his eyes. The judge was mad his dad was sad his mother told him he'd been bad, so naughty Jack was dressed in black with silver buttons down his back. I couldn't help but wonder if Naughty Jack had been petticoated for lying and thieving since only girl's clothes have their buttons on the back.
The rest of the week followed the same routine; bath time at 7pm, bedtime at 8.00, a shower before breakfast and one of my teachers holds me back after class to check that I'm wearing my training bra. Then there's half an hour of active play after school, followed by study time when I complete my homework assignments. I can work on my cross-stitch or read a book until bath time comes round again, then its nappy time and bedtime at eight. The only thing that changes are the clothes I lay out each morning which is either a pair of short girlie shorts or short skirt with either a cute T shirt or a prissy blouse. I've got the horrible blue shorts with braces, the yellow gingham skirt, a pair of box pleated culotte shorts that look like a skirt, a ditsy ra-ra skirt, several Disney T shirts and several blouses.
On Thursday I joined the homework group instead of PE and chatted to Callum again afterwards. Like me he has to do active play at home which involves skipping and hopscotch and dance. “I haven't done any dance yet.” I told him. “Mummy says that's for rainy days.” I added, before feeling myself blush for slipping up. “I mean... Mum.” I gulped.
“Good job it's me and not someone else.” Callum said. No one our age calls their mother 'mummy' unless they're like us. I'll have to make sure I don't make that mistake again. “Do you have to wear a girl's school uniform too?” he asked me.
“No.” I replied, sheepishly and briefly describing what I do wear. “Do you?”
“Yeah.” he glumly said.
“What's it like?”
“Well... it's like those.” he shrugged, gesturing towards a group of girls who walked ahead of us wearing their short pleated skirts and a short fitted blazer. “I thought we all had a girl's uniform.” he said.
“Maybe I don't coz my mum's just trying it out.” I mused. “I think I'd rather wear that than some of the stuff she makes me wear.”
“Yeah.” Callum agreed. “I really don't like it but at least when I’m wearing my girl's uniform I'm not dressed like a seven year old.”
I felt a little devious for withholding my chats with Callum from my mother. I fear that a; she might encourage our friendship and invite him round, b, she might be inspired by what he's told me, and c, she might like the idea of buying me a girl's school uniform to wear at home... but considering what I currently wear after school, that might not be so bad.
On Friday I spend a good half hour playing hopscotch and skipping on the patio. I also have a go at hula-hoop which is a; really easy and b, quite boring after a couple of minutes... it's just swaying my hips a bit and the momentum keeps the hoop going. I spent an hour completeing my homework before helping Mummy with supper and clearing up afterwards, and after my bath, Mum put my hair in rags again because she wants Granny to see me with curls.
On Saturday morning, my mother shows me how to sort my laundry and how to operate the washing machine. I sort the whites from the darks and put the delicates into a laundry bag. An hour or so later when the cycle is complete, I hang my knickers, training bras, socks and tights from a drying rack hung over the radiator in my bedroom. This is something I'll be expected to do every Saturday morning and Mummy tells me that all petticoatees do their own laundry.
I'm driven to Granny's wearing my infantile car print dress and two pale blue slides in my curled hair. Granny greets me with a bemused smile. She agrees that my hair looks nice and comments that I'm wearing the same dress again. “Well he's only got two... this one and his Sunday dress.” Mum defensively replied.
“I've got loads of other stuff too Mummy.” I reminded her, listing my skirts, shorts and blouses.
“Yes but they're your play clothes for after school.” Mum replied. “You wear dresses at the weekend.” she reminded me. “Show Granny your cross-stitch Gavin.” she said, lowering her eyes to the carrier bag I held.
“Is this your sampler?” Granny asked as I rooted in the bag.
“It's not finished yet.” I said, handing her the barely started craft project. I'd done my name and a couple of dividers, plus the capital letters A through to M. “I'm going to put the date in here when it's finished.” I said, pointing to the void below my name.
“It's very good so far.” Granny said, before enquiring about the space invaders.
“I've not done those yet.” I said, pointing out where they'll go. I dug out my plan on a sheet of graph paper and showed it to her. “It's going to have pac-man running around the outside, and some ghosts as well.”
“Lovely.” Granny replied. I got the feeling that she didn’t know what pac-man was, but a while later as I sat doing my needlework and Granny sat wittering with her knitting, she told me that she loved my ideas for my sampler, saying that pac-man and space invaders are a good forty years old. “You've given a vintage craft a retro twist. I can't wait to see the finished article.”
Granny asked how my week had been and I told her it had been OK. I told her that I don't have to do PE at school for a while and do my homework instead, and have half an hour of active play when I get home. “And what's that?” she asked.
“Well...mostly skipping or playing hopscotch. I have a hula-hoop too but that's boring.” I told her.
“And what do your friends think now you've been petticoated?” she asked.
“Only two of them know.” I said, informing her that my friend Jason has a cousin who's a petticoatee, and Callum, a boy in my class is also a petticoated boy.
“Well I suppose it's nice to know that you're not the only one.” Granny smiled. “Do they wear nappies too?”
“I think so.” I glumly replied, although I only have Jason's word for it.
When Mum returned from her shopping trip I'd completes both upper and lower case alphabets on my sampler and the numbers one to three. “You've done loads Gavin!” Mum exclaimed. “At this rate you'll have it finished by next weekend.”
“I hope so.” I said. “I want to design a minecraft one next.”
“I thought we were going to make you a pinafore next.” mum replied.
“A pinafore?” Granny quizzed.
“To wear for supper so he doesn't get stains on his dresses or blouses.” Mum replied.
“I might have one.” Granny said. “...but it might be a bit too Downton.” she added.
“It might be a bit too big if it's one of yours Mum.” my mother chuckled.
Granny told us that a couple of years ago she'd helped to make a fancy dress costume for a girl down the road, but at the last minute the girl decided to go dressed as Wonder Woman wearing a shop bought costume. “She didn't win anything of course... I think it was a boy dressed as a robot who did.”
“So... what costume were you making for her?” Mum asked.
“The little match girl I seem to recall... it was for world book day I think. She already had the drab brown dress and only needed an apron to wear over it.”
“And you've still got it?” Mum asked.
“Well I'm not sure... I don't recall putting it in a charity bundle but I haven't come across it in a good while either.” Granny replied.
“If it's anywhere it'll be in your sewing cupboard.” Mum presumed. Granny said it wouldn't be as she sorts that cupboard out quite often... then she spent a moment in deep thought. Then she thought some more. She furrowed her brow and stroked her chin... then, she slowly unfurled her index finger. “Ah!” she blurted, almost startling both my mother and I. “It's in the hall stand.” Granny announced. “In the drawer, a white paper bag with stripes on.” she recalled. “Would mind Gavin?”
I went to the hallway in which is an antique hall stand with a small cupboard and drawer, along with coat hooks, a large mirror and a space for storing umbrellas and walking canes. I glance at myself as I open the drawer. Yesterday's boyish hair is short and curly today, and thanks to a pair of hair slides flanking one side it looks all the more girlie. I had to rummage a little before finding the bag Granny described. I returned and handed it to her. “Thank you Gavin.”
“You're welcome Granny.” I said as I sat; smoothing my dress beneath myself and straightening my skirt on my lap.
She removed a white garment from the bag and unfolded it. “It'll need an iron.” Granny said as she flattened it over her lap.
“It looks perfect Mum!” my mother announced as Granny lifted it. “Just what I had in mind.”
To me it looks like a white dress with broad straps rather than sleeves. There's little frills over the shoulders and big frilly bit all around the hem, and when Granny turns it around I realise that it is in fact an apron with no back other than a bit that buttons together. I'm going to feel like an extra in The Little House on the Prairie if I have to wear that, I thought. Granny suggested I try it for size and Mum said it needs ironing first. “It'll definitely fit.” Mum claimed. “And you'll be able to iron won't you Gavin.” she said.
Granny seemed impressed that I'd ironed my school shirts and trousers last Sunday. Mum proudly told her that domestication is a big part of petticoating. “There's a lot more to it than just wearing dresses.” she added.
Granny set up the ironing board and Mum plugged in the iron. She told me that because the pinny is pure cotton that it'll take a hot setting, and I set the dial to the correct position. Ironing the flat sections was easy enough, although I had to press really hard to get the stubborn creases out. Granny told me how to do the frilly bits. They were quite tricky but apparently they were 'perfect' when I’d finished. Mum held it open and I put me fists through the holes. Two big buttons fasten between my shoulders and they're al that hold it together. It hangs like a tent from my shoulders... and a frilly tent at that. “You look like one of the railway children.” Mum grinned. I doubt she had the boy in mind.
I didn't wear the pinny for long but it did come home with us and I wore it whilst we had our supper. I can't say I liked my archaic pinafore apron but it does serve a purpose... and bearing in mind the consequences of staining one of my dresses, I find its presence reassuring.
Mum suggested that we watch another one of the movies from my Disney Princess box set before my bath. I didn't really want to but I sense a routine emerging and figured that she wouldn't take no for an answer. I chose Aladdin and it was rubbish, however I diplomatically described it as OK afterwards. “Mummy?” I meekly asked before getting in the bath. “I had a bit of hair last week but now it's almost gone.” I shyly told her.
“Let me see.” Mum asked. I showed her and she told me that hair isn't very hygienic now I'm wearing nappies again. “Your nappy rash cream also makes the hair go away.” she informed me. “It'll be much easier to keep yourself clean now it's gone.” she said, punctuating her claim with a pursed smile.
I got the feeling that it had nothing to do with hygiene and everything to do with infantilisation, just as my nappies aren't to stop me from waking her up in the middle of the night.
Granny had accepted this week's invitation to join us for Sunday lunch. My curls had dropped out and I wore an Alice band in my hair, along with my Sunday dress, thin white tights and my black Mary Jane’s. I sat in the lounge reading as Mum tended to lunch, and when Granny did arrive, I was sent to let her in. I was in a bit of a panic as I opened the front door... anyone could have been walking past. “You look nice.” Granny smiled as she stepped inside. “Your curls have dropped out I see.” she added.
“They only last a day.” I replied. “Which is good because I don't want them when I’m at school.” I added.
“You're wearing heels.” she added as her eyes dropped to my feet. “...and tights too I see.” she added. In the kitchen she greeted Mummy with as hug and kiss before commenting on my appearance. She claimed that I looked quite grown up for a petticoated boy. Compared to most of my other new clothes, my Sunday dress is the least childlike but it still has frills and short 'princess' sleeves. It's hardly something a girl who's about to turn fourteen might choose, let alone a boy!
After chatting with my mother for ages, Granny joined me in the sitting room and asked what I was reading. “Anne of Green Gables.” I replied.
“Oh I loved that book when I was a girl.” she gushed. “Are you enjoying it?”
“It's OK.” I said. “I'm only allowed girl's books.” I glumly added.
Granny said that it's not a girl's book but a classic book. “Everyone should read it... Anne's a good role model for both girls and boys.” she claimed.
After a while, Mum called me through to the kitchen. She stood waiting with my pinny. I put my hands through its arm holes and turned so she could fasten the buttons. “Thank you Mummy.” I meekly said as I looked down at my tent-like garment.
“Go and show granny.” Mum chirped.
“She saw it yesterday.” I reminded her.
“But not with your Sunday dress.” Mum replied.
“How long will dinner be?” I asked.
“Twenty minutes or so.” my mother told me. Her eyes looked beyond me and I turned to see my grandmother joining us.
I felt bashful as Granny looked me up and down with an approving expression. “It's like you've stepped back in time Gavin,” she said. I didn't really know what to say so I gulped and smiled, shyly thumbing the folds of my pinny. Mummy suggested I show Granny my bedroom and whilst I’d have rather not, I did as I was told. “Careful on the stairs in those heels.” Granny advised as she followed me up. She cast her perplexed eyes around my room; from the ballerina pictures on my walls to the fairy castle duvet on my bed. She looked up at my Disney Princess lamps shade, then at the three dolls on my bookshelf. On my desk is my semi-complete cross stitch sampler along with my small selection of bow clips and hair slides. I got the feeling that my grandmother didn't wholly approve. “It must be easy to forget you're really a boy in here.” she said.
I glanced around my girlie room. “If anything it reminds me that I am a boy.” I said as she had a sneaky look inside my wardrobe, in which my skirts and blouses and dress hung.
“Do you have any favourites?” she quizzed. I shook my head and pointed out a few items that I liked the least. Granny removed one of the blouses. “It is very fussy isn't it.” she said. I gulped and nodded. “Pretty though.” she added as she put it back. “Is being petticoated as bad as you expected?” she asked after shutting the wardrobe.
“I don't mind my dresses so much... my shorts and skirts are all really short, but worst of all is having to wear nappies again.” I told her.
“Well at least they're only at bedtime.” she replied, reminding me that the norm is for new petticoatees is nappies both day and night for the first few weeks. Just one day would be awful, I thought...but a few weeks?! I guess I should be thankful but I can't help but feel hard-done-by. Granny perused my bookshelves. “I see what you mean about only having girl's books.” she smiled. I groaned in agreement. “This is a good one.” she said, removing A Little Princess and flicking through its pages. I grimaced and Granny gave me a brief yet animated synopsis.
We returned downstairs and Granny said my room was 'nice', if a little infantile for an almost fourteen year old. “He's still a child mother... and we both agree that children grow up to quickly these days.” my mother replied. “Would you lay the table please Gavin?”
“Yes Mummy.” I replied. My heels clacked on the tiled kitchen floor as I tottered around the table, laying a setting for my mother, my grandmother and myself. I placed the cruet set and gravy boat in the centre whilst mummy plated the meals.
We made small talk over dinner. Mum and Granny talked about the weather, politics, me and the fact that I've learned to skip with a rope this week. “Yes Gavin was telling yesterday. Hopscotch too, and hula hoop?” Granny replied. I was chewing so I nodded. “Can you do a running skip?” Granny asked.
“What's a running skip.” I asked.
“You know... running and skipping at the same time... I'm sure you've seen girls doing it.” Granny replied. “If not on TV then when you were at junior school.”
With a little thought, I knew what she meant. “Is it hard?” I asked.
“Well like most things... it's easy when you know how.” Granny replied.
“You can give it try after school tomorrow.” Mum suggested. “Unless it's raining.” she added.
“It's forecast for rain all week.” Granny said. “But the garden needs it... we've had such a long sunny spell.”
Mummy and Granny embarked upon a conversation about gardening, in particular, the proposed hosepipe ban and what that could mean for their precious blooms. Meanwhile, I glumly visualised myself skipping around the garden with my little skirt swishing this way and that. The thought of it alone made me blush.
The following days were grey and overcast, but so far the rain has held off. Since I'd completed Tuesday's homework assignments in the homework group at school, Mum said I should have an hour of active play and encouraged me to try to do a running skip which meant running around the garden. I was overtly reluctant about it because unlike the secluded patio area, the rest of the garden is overlooked by our neighbours. “You've got nothing to ashamed of Gavin.” Mum claimed.
I hung my head and felt the complete opposite. Today I’m wearing a white Snow White T-shirt with see-through princess sleeves. The print is obscured by the bib of a pair of spearmint green dungaree shorts with floral trim on the pockets and turn-ups. My skinny legs are a sun-blushed pink and on my feet is my pale blue jelly shoes and a pair of frilly white ankle socks. Completing my outfit is a single green satin bow flanking my skull. “But what if someone sees me?” I gulped.
“I understand why you're shy Gavin but other people aren't bothered how you're dressed.” she told me. “You just need to get over your stage fright.” she said, before suggesting that if I don't want to try skipping around the garden, then I can run to the shops instead because she needs some milk. The prospect of running to the local shop wearing a pair of girl's dungaree shorts, lacy ankle socks and princess T shirt sent shivers down my spine. With much reluctance, I stood on the lawn with my skipping rope and briefly glanced up at all the overlooking windows. I saw no one but felt as if loads of people were watching me. Mum told me to begin by skipping normally, then rather than jumping with both feet, to hop from one to the other as if running on the spot. “Once you've got the hang of that, just start moving forward.” Mum said. I caught to rope on my foot and stopped. “...and don't worry about the neighbours.” she added as I nervously glanced up at the windows. “They'll see you sooner or later.” she claimed.
I assumed the starting position with the rope at the back of my ankles and began again... one petticoat, two petticoat, thee petticoat, four... I recited. Hopping from one foot to the other is one thing but moving forwards is the tricky bit. Mummy told me to keep trying and went indoors. I imagined someone covertly watching me, sniggering and giggling at the sissy boy skipping in his garden. Maybe from a distance they'll think I'm a girl with short hair... but I doubt it. Eventually I managed a few forward steps before snagging the rope on my shoe. I tried again and managed a few more steps and felt quite proud of myself. But with that thought I felt embarrassed... taking pride in learning to do something that girls half my age can do without thinking. After twenty minutes, Mum called me inside. I didn't quite get the knack of the running skip but did make some progress. “Can I have a drink please Mummy?” I asked.
“Of course.” Mum replied. I prepared myself a glass of cordial and gulped half of it down. “Don't gulp Gavin.”
“Sorry Mummy.” I meekly said, wiping the drips from the side of my mouth.
“Let's get your pinny on... supper's in twenty minutes.” she said. Worn over my dungaree shorts, the apron feels more like a dress, only one with no back. I did some more of my cross-stitch whilst waiting and finally got the row of space invaders finished. After supper I helped with the washing up, then on my mother's request, I showed her how my sampler was coming along. “That's very good Gavin... you're proving to be quite nimble.” she told me.
“Can I do a minecraft one when this is finished?” I asked.
“I think you should try some proper sewing next.” Mum replied, suggesting a pencil case or pyjama case... or maybe another apron. I didn't think I needed another apron but Mum said I could have one to wear whilst the other's in the wash. Then she suggests a skirt or a little 'sun' dress, claiming that they're also quite easy for the beginner.
“Will I be allowed to make the miniature garden one day Mummy?” I asked. “I won't get dirty if I wear my apron.” I said.
“True.” Mum replied. “Tell you what... if you start helping me in the garden; weeding, tidying, potting and planting... then you can make a miniature one of your own.”
It seemed like a far deal, but it would mean I’d be venturing into the parts of the back garden that are overlooked by our neighbours. Then there's a small front garden as well... I hope she doesn't want me to help there too!
After the homework group on Thursday I had a moan to Callum about my mum making me practice my skipping in the middle of the garden where all the neighbours could see me. “She's probably just getting you ready for your first public outing.” he told me. “At first I figured that being petticoated meant I was grounded too... but then my babysitter couldn't make it and I had to go shopping with mummy... I mean, mum.”
“You've got a babysitter?!” I blurted.
“Keep it down!” he barked under his breath, glancing around nervously.
“Soz.” I said. He told me that his babysitter is an older girl from down the road. She used to mind him on Saturdays whilst his mother went shopping, and a few evenings each week when his mother went to her bridge club or had a dinner date. However since his babysitter took up riding lessons on Saturday, he only has her a couple of evenings each week. “So you have to go shopping with mother every Saturday?” I asked. The mere thought of being petticoated in town on a Saturday astonished me, but his reply was all the more astonishing...
“No... I go to a ballet class instead and Mummy... I mean Mum picks me up afterwards.”
“Blimey!” I gasped. “What's that like?”
“Better than being paraded around town.” he grimly replied.
Every time I learned something new about Callum's petticoating regime I felt a little more at ease with my own. However his claim that it's only a matter of time before my mother takes me somewhere public left me feeling more than a little anxious. I arrived home and as usual, Mummy asked if I'd had a nice day at school before sending me to change. Today I’m wearing my little blue shorts with the broad braces again, but with white tights instead of socks. Mum buttoned me into the blouse and put a couple of clips in my hair, before sending me out to play. It's been overcast for the last few days but it still hasn't rained properly. There's also a slight chill in the air and Mum asks if I'm warm enough as she positions the nanny-cam on the patio table. “Yes Mummy.” I meekly replied. A shudder still sparks down my spine every time I say 'mummy'. I don't think I'll ever get used to it.
Wearing tights with my shorts both looks and feels really odd. Mum said they'll keep the chill of me but I know how active play warms me up... and it's June... it's hardly a winter chill. Of course I didn't argue all this when Mummy was deciding what I'd wear today. I played hopscotch for fifteen minutes before Mum popped her head out of the patio door and told me to skip around the garden. “But I can't do it Mummy... can I just skip on the spot instead?” I asked.
“You almost got the hang of it yesterday Gavin... you just need to keep at it.” Mum said, reminding me that I should be able to do anything a girl can do. I spent the rest of my active play session trying and failing to run and skip. I felt like a failure but Mum said so long as I keep trying, I can't fail. “Just try again tomorrow.” she said.
During Friday's lunch break, Jason asked how things were at home. “Pretty shit.” I glumly replied, before timidly telling him about my 'active play' sessions. “...and now I'm expected to skip round the garden where all the neighbours can see me!” I added.
“My cousin has to do that too.” Jason replied, listing skipping, two-balls, hopscotch, balloon volleyball and basket ball.
“Basket ball!” I exclaimed.
“Well... it's netball really... but I call it basket ball.” he replied.
“You know... when girls have two tennis balls and bounce them off a wall while reciting a rhyme and doings skips and turns and things.” he vaguely explained. “It's really complicated.” he added.
I recall seeing the game on old movie reels. Black and white footage of scruffy urban kids playing on the streets and back alleys in the nineteen-fifties or sixties. I never knew what it was called or exactly how it's played, but now I know it's called 'two-balls', I might mention it to mummy. Like hopscotch, it's something I can only play on the secluded patio. The same goes for a basketball hoop. I might even get some brownie points if I suggest some new activities to try during playtime... activities that don't involve skipping around the garden.
As I saunter home from school, I glumly envisage watching myself skipping around the garden from an upstairs window. It's a sorry sight. My little skirt swishing this way and that, a big floppy bow bouncing off the top of my head, the rope swinging beneath my dainty feet, clad in girlie jelly shoes and frilly ankle socks, my pale skinny legs... I can feel myself blushing just thinking about it.
Then something positive happens... a drop of rain lands on my cheek and I cast my eyes skyward. It hasn't rained for weeks and I can't imagine my mother making me play outside in the rain. I can't imagine playing hopscotch of skipping indoors either. It's only spitting but hopefully the rain will become a shower and I'll be spared the humiliation of active play for today. “Thank you!” I whisper to the clouds before pulling my hood over my head. The rain is getting worse and I hurry my pace.
After the usual 'how was school' small talk, I cast my eyes to the rain spattered window and if I still had to play outside. “Not today Gavin, you'll get soaked.” she replied.
“Shall I get started on my homework then?” I suggested, claiming that I’ve got quite a lot.
“You still need your exercise.” Mum retorted, adding the mantra: thirty minutes, active play, after school, every day.
“But what can I do?” I quizzed.
“You can change out of those school clothes for a start.” she said. As is my routine, I lay out my evening 'play' clothes before school each morning. Today it's a fussy white blouse, my yellow tiered skirt, white tights and my blue jelly shoes. I hate yellow most of all. It's like wearing a daffodil.
Feeling like a condemned man, I mournfully march to my bedroom. I remove my jumper and unbutton my shirt. It's usually about this time that my mother appears... just as I’m revealing my training bra. And right on queue she's there; straightening my chest band and asking if one of my teachers checked it today. “Yes Mummy.” I said. “Miss Parker after history class.” I added.
“Good.” she said, before turning her eyes to the outfit on my bed. “Well since it's raining, you may as well put these away.” she told me.
“Really?!” I asked with a hint of joy in my voice.
“Don't get your hopes up.” Mum warned as I put my skirt and blouse in the wardrobe.
“Why?” I cautiously asked as she crouched in front of my bookshelf.
She removed a book. “Because on rainy days... you do this.” she said, handing the book to me.
My jaw dropped as the book landed in my hands... My First Ballet Book. “Ballet?!” I gulped.
Mum smiled and nodded. Her eyes dropped to the area beside my wardrobe and mine followed. At first I thought 'pop-up tent' being a big round waterproof bag. “I was beginning to think we might never see a rainy day.” Mum chirped as she grabbed the bag. “And I know it looks like a pop-up play tent but...” she said as she laid it flat and unfastened the zip.
“Oh please Mummy not one of those!” I gasped when I realised what was inside.
“What did you expect?” Mum asked. I was too agog to reply. “There's tights, shoes, a leotard and off course a tutu.” she said.
“It's all pink.” I grimaced.
“Well pink is traditional... especially for beginners.”
My eyes dropped to the book in my hands.
It comes with an instructional DVD which I guess means I'll be in the lounge... and I notice that it's a 'special boys edition' which makes me wonder if the ugly girl on the cover could really be a boy. As I stand dumbstruck, gorping at the cover of my ballet book in disbelief, Mum's unpacking my tutu. “Come on Gavin... the sooner you begin the sooner it'll be over.” Mum said. The tights and leotard lay in wait on my bed. I began to unfasten my trousers. “And clean knickers remember.” Mum added.
I dropped my pants and folded them, then dropped my panties and tossed them in my laundry bin. Thanks to the nappy rash cream's depilatory additive, I've not got any hair at all down there any more. I quickly step into a clean pair of knickers and spent a second wondering if the tights go under or over the leotard. “Tights first.” Mum said as if reading my mind.
Unlike the thin white tights I wear with my Sunday dress, these are thick, and pink. I step into the leotard and pull it on. “How am I suppose to go to the toilet?” I asked, realising that the tights and leotard pretty much sealed me in.
“By more or less getting undressed.” my mother replied. That seemed odd to me and I guess my expression revealed my thoughts. “You could always put a nappy on if it seems like too much trouble.” she bluntly suggested. The tutu has its own inbuilt panties over which the multitude of layers continue. I step into it and Mum fastens the hook and look fastenings at the small of my back. “Actually I think a nappy might not be such a bad idea.” she said. “These are quite fiddly.”
“I don't want to wear a nappy mummy.” I whined.
“Well it's going to take a good few minutes to get out of it... I’m just worried if you get caught short.”
“I won't.” I hoped.
I perched on my bed a slid my stockinged feet into the dainty little shoes. I spared a thought for Callum who recently revealed to me that he has to attend a ballet class every Saturday morning. I hope Mummy doesn't have a similar idea in mind for me. Mummy ties my ballet shoes for me, then she sits me at my desk and combs my hair back off my face. Of course it flops forward again. Mum pops to her room to fetch some product and before I know it, my hair is slicked back off my face, held in place with a narrow elastic hair-band plus several bobby pins controlling the back and sides. All I'm lacking is a tightly packed bun high on the back of my head... other than that, I'm a ballerina from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. “Come on... don't forget your book.” Mum said. I looked down at myself and gulped. The tutu has got to be the single weirdest garment anyone could ever wear. Apart from it being totally humiliating, what's the point of it? I can't even let my arms hang freely because its broad weightless frilly disc in the way.
A glanced at the five ballerina pictures that have graced my bedroom wall since the day I was petticoated. I've often wondered why she chose ballerinas rather than say, princesses or some other girlie theme. I grabbed the ballet book and followed my mother. My pancake tutu only just fit through my bedroom door, and I had to feel for the top step because there's no way I could see it. After cautiously descending the stairs, I was greeted by an almost complete view of myself in the hallway mirror. I clenched my eyes shut for a moment and continued walking.
In the lounge, Mum took the book from me and removed the DVD from its envelope inside the cover. I helped her move the coffee table to one side so there was ample space in front of the TV, and Mum fetched a dining chair from the kitchen and placed it by my side. “What's that for?” I asked.
“This is your makeshift barre.” Mum said as she picked up the remote controls. She told me to open My First Ballet Book to the page with the warm up routines on. I placed it on the chair so I could refer the book, but primarily I'd be following the video. Mum scrolled through the menu to Novice Warm-up Routine and pressed play. The young presenter is dressed almost identical to myself, only her tights are white. “Hello!” she says in a joyous tone. “...and welcome to the wonderful world of ballet.”
It was a cringe worthy introduction. The presenter said that ballet offers a range of health and well-being benefits such as improved balance, better flexibility and agility. It also burns calories, sharpens cognitive function and engages both hemispheres of the brain. “I don't even know what that means.” I said.
“It means you'll be smarter, brainier and healthier.” my mother claimed as she positioned the nanny-cam on the mantle piece.
“Oh you''re not going to record this are you Mummy?” I whined.
“Well I'll be preparing supper so I need to know that you're actually doing something and not just watching your DVD.” she replied.
“OK... lets get started!” the DVD presenter enthused. I exhaled deeply through my nostrils as she told me how to stand; feet slightly apart, arms in 'demi seconde' (my wrists hovering over the edge of my tutu). “...reach up... and down.” she instructed, touching her toes. “...it doesn't matter if you can't reach your toes yet, just do the best you can, and remember to keep your legs straight.” The furthest I could get was halfway down my shins. “Now straighten your back and stretch your arms out to the sides; like a capital T.” she said. “...and really stretch those arms out.” she encouraged. “Down to your toes, then up to the sky. Down to your toes, then out to the sides, then down... and up... and down... and out... ” after five minutes of the repetitive routine, she moved onto the next warm up routine. “OK... if you don't have a barre to rest on, the back of dining chair is ideal.” she said. I spent the next few minutes doing repeated tendues; kicking out my leg, making sure I'm pointing my toes whilst tracing and arc and raising my free hand, twisting my wrist and gesturing to my outstretched foot, before turning and doing the same on my left side. After that was something called a plié, which is like a squat, but harder, and finally I repeated the first stretching routine. Twenty minutes had passed when the warm up lesson ended. I felt flushed and panted a little. This is more exhausting than I’d imagined.
“Now we're all warmed up...” the enthusiastic presenter said. “...let's learn the five basic positions!” I gulp and glance at the open book. The five basic positions are shown on the page opposite the warm up routines and I know that I’m going to look like an absolute ninny when I perform them. It doesn't help that the cartoon pictures in the book are clearly boys dressed as girls.
After ten minutes, I pause the video and trotted through to the kitchen. “Mummy... I've done half an hour.” I informed her.
“Well carry on until the current lesson's finished.” she replied, before asking if I'm enjoying it.
“Not really.” I gulped. Mum told me to carry on regardless.
The repetitive five positions went on for around half an hour. The grinning DVD presenter said that it might seem boring to begin with, doing the same thing over and over... but stressed the importance of getting it right. “...the five positions are the building blocks of ballet and when you've mastered those, you'll be doing the chassé, sauté and pirouettes in no time.” she said. “...until then, keep doing the basic warm up routines followed by the five positions until your mummy, nanny or teacher says you're good enough to try the next lesson.”
I trotted to the kitchen again and told my mother that the lesson had finished. “Good boy.” Mum smiled. “You certainly look like you've done a workout.” she added. My cheeks felt as flushed as they looked and I couldn't help but pant. She told me to return the DVD and ballet book to my room, and to get on with my homework. She was busy chopping vegetables and said she'd be up in a while to help me out of my tutu. “Oh and don't forget your nanny-cam.” she said, reminding me to put it on my shelf in my room where she can keep an eye on me.
It's a good job I've only got a stool in my room, otherwise I'd never be able to sit at my disk with my tutu on. After positioning the nanny-cam so it can see both my bed and my desk, I grab my school bag and get my homework books out, perch on my chair and try to concentrate on my studies. After five or ten minutes, Mum comes and unfastens the numerous hook and eye fastenings and releases me from the disc-like garment. I did try to unfasten them myself but they were too small and too fiddly. “Thanks Mummy.” I said as I stepped out of it. I felt unusually skinny as I put my tutu back in its case.
“You may as well keep your leotard on 'til bedtime.” she said.
“Really?” I gulped. “Can I at least put some shorts and a T shirt over it?”
“There should be a little chiffon skirt and a bolero in your ballet bag.” Mum replied, suggesting I root through its various zipped pockets.
“What's a bolero?” I asked.
“A little woolly cardigan.” she replied. I found the bolero first. It's pink with long sleeves but a really short body that doesn't even reach my waist. I fastens with two long tapes that wrap around my torso and ties in a bow at the back. Despite its unsavoury appearance, it does feel nice and cosy. I root through the pockets for the skirt and find several more pairs of dance tights in white and nude before finally finding the flimsy little skirt. It has an elasticated waist so I stepped into it and pulled it up. It's really short and see-through, but given the choice I'd have rather worn this than my tutu. “Supper's in fifteen minutes.” Mum said before leaving me alone.
As is the new norm, I wore the pinafore apron Granny had given me whilst having supper. It was a relief to be clad in white again, although the sleeves of my pink bolero and tights were still visible. After helping with the washing up, Mum unbuttoned my pinny and I returned to my room and my homework. Part of me still can't quite believe what happened today. I can't recall my mother even hinting that I'd be expected to do ballet or wear a leotard and tutu... but I suppose she's been saving it as a rainy day surprise. Lucky me. Not!
An hour or so later, Mum came to my room and asked how I was getting on. “Almost finished.” I replied. She told me that it's almost seven o'clock and she'll start running my bath. “OK mummy.” I said. I packed up my books some five minutes later and stripped down to my underwear. After a fortnight of the same daily routine, my nappy drawer is either half empty or half full, depending on how you look at it. I remove one, grab a pair of rubbers and take them to the bathroom where I strip fully and climb into my lukewarm bath. “Mummy?” I asked as she conditions my hair. “Will I only have to do ballet when it's raining?”
“Well that was the idea.” mum replied. “But I was banking on it raining a bit more often than it has in the last few weeks.” she added.
“I hope it doesn’t rain again.” I grumbled. Mum chuckled and said she hopes it does. She rinsed my hair and left me alone to wash the rest of myself. Afterwards I sat on the loo before donning my nappy and brushing my teeth. A pair of cotton over knickers and my girlie white pyjama top lay waiting on my duvet, and Mum stood waiting with the hairdryer. “Are you going to put it in rags again?” I asked.
“Would you like me to?”
“Not really.” I gulped. “Am I going to Granny's again tomorrow?” I asked.
“Yes but I'll be taking you shopping first.”
“Why?!” I whined. The last thing I want it to be paraded around town on a Saturday of all days.
Mum gave me one of those glares before reminding me that it's my birthday next weekend. “...and you need a party dress.”
“But I don't want a party!” I whimpered.
Mum smiled down on me and told me that I'm not having a party, but I will be getting a party dress. “Apparently there's some nice shops in Ashford.” she added.
“That's miles away.”
“Would you rather we find one here in Maidstone?” she asked. I knowingly asked if I'd have to wear a dress because I'd rather wear my Sunday dress than my pale blue car print one. “Well...” mum began. “...since it's going to be a big step for you, I thought you might like to choose something yourself.” she said. “Providing it's not your school uniform.” she added, smiling.
“I'd rather wear my Sunday dress than my blue one.” I said.
“But you'll be wearing that on Sunday.” Mum replied. “How about your yellow skirt and a T shirt?”
“Noo.” I cooed. Mum suggested that I sleep on it, but added that we'll be setting off early. She kissed me goodnight and turn out my light, before locking my door behind her. Even with my curtains shut, it'll be a good couple of hours before it's dark enough to even think about sleeping. I lay in the pinky halflight and let my eyes flick around my room; from the vanity mirror and hair clips on my desk, to the dolls and nanny-cam on the top of my bookshelf. I sigh at my Disney Princess DVD box set and wonder which film I'll be watching tomorrow evening, before my eyes land on my big round tutu case that leans against the wall beside my wardrobe. “I'm certainly not wearing that tomorrow!” I quietly grumble to myself.
I think of all sorts of things as I lay waiting for the light to fade; life before being petticoated, life after being petticoated (if there is such a thing) and life if everyone knew that I'd been petticoated. I was going to ask Mummy if she'd let me have a netball hoop but it clean slipped my mind when I was told I’d be doing ballet instead of playing outside in the rain. I dont' know what was worse about my outfit... the pancake tutu or the fact that it was pink. I recall Mummy's threat and wonder if Mum could get special permission to send me to school wearing the girl's uniform. The light fades and I soon drift into a deep slumber... only to drift out of it as the sun begins to rise. I'm wet and it's not the first time I've relieved myself in my sleep... in fact over the last few days, that seems to be more regular than waking up bursting. I turn my back to the window and pull my duvet up so I can evade the early morning light. I pretend that I’m sleepier than I am, and try not to think about how damp I feel... eventually I drift back to sleep and wake when my mother unlocks my door. “What time is it?” I yawn, adding a very drowsy 'mummy'.
“Just gone seven.” Mum replied as she swept my curtains open. I clenched my eyes shut as the room flooded with light, before slowly peeling them open again. “Did you manage to stay dry tonight?” she asked.
“Noo.” I whined.
“Hmmm.” Mum responded. “I think we might have to get you some better nappies.”
“But I don't need any more Mummy... I've only got another week left and I’ve still got loads of nappies.”
“You've got another two weeks Gavin.” she informed me.
“But... this is my third weekend and next weekend will be my fourth.”
“And the week after that will be your fourth week.” Mum told me.
I'd got my counting all muddled up and felt disappointed that I still had to endure two more weeks of petticoating instead of one. “I'll still have enough nappies though... my drawer's only half empty.” I informed my mother.
“I know but they're only cheap ones... if you're going to wet yourself every night you need something more absorbent with a wicking fabric.” she said. I didn't know what wicking meant so I asked. “It's a special type of fabric that sucks any moisture through and stops it getting back... so when you do wet yourself, you'll feel much dryer.” she informed me, adding that they are quite expensive.
“Wouldn't it be easier to just let me use the toilet.” I sarcastically suggested.
“Petticoated boys don't use the toilet after bedtime Gavin.” my mother sternly reminded me. “You know that.” she added. “And petticoated boys don't take that tone with their mother's either.”
“Sorry... Mummy.” I said, hanging my head.
“I hope so. Now... have you decided what you'd like to wear today?”
“Errr....” I hadn't, but I had a good idea what I didn't want to wear. This left my culotte shorts, my dungaree shorts and my ditsy floral ra-ra skirt (it's longer length is its only saving grace). Mum asked if I’d rather wear a blouse or a T shirt... but since all my t shirts have a Disney princess print on the front... “I'm not sure.” I replied.
“I think a blouse.” Mum said. “This one.” she added, removing it from the wardrobe and tossing on my bed alongside my ra-ra skirt. I didn't argue because I’m not supposed to... but it was also the best of my three blouses being the least fussy. It still has frilly trim and buttons up the back but... “And I’m think of nude tights rather than socks.” Mum said. “I'll fetch you pair of mine.” she said.
With my outfit decided, I was finally allowed to change out of my wet nappy. It's always a relief to get myself under a nice warm shower where I can wash off the sticky nappy rash cream. Mummy says I’ve got to keep checking for any signs of nappy rash and to let her know... but there's nothing but clear, hairless skin. I have suggested that maybe I don't need the nappy rash cream but mum assures me that the cream is the only reason I don't have any nappy rash. It's also the reason I don't have hair any more.
After a fortnight, slinging on my training bra and fastening it is second nature. I pull on a camisole before Mummy buttons me into my blouse. She loans me a pair of her thin skin toned tights which I wear with my ditsy print rara skirt. It's a cacophony of colour... flecks of pink, green, red and blue on a black background. The primary reason for choosing that particular skirt is its length, landing around the middle of my thigh rather than high thigh. I don my black Mary Jane's and Mum brushed my hair into a side parting and fixed it with tons of hair spray. “Aren't you putting a slide in?” I asked.
“I don't think you need one today.” Mum said, stating that it looks smart enough as it is. She proceeded to coat my face in a thin layer of foundation. I didn't protest, not even when she painted my lips in a matt pink lipstick. “How's that?” she asked.
I turned to the mirror and gulped. My side parted hair looks a little too boyish for comfort, especially with no Alice band or slides... but coupled with my very minimal make-up, I guess I could pass for a girl. I tell my mother that it looks 'nice' and she smiles approvingly. “I'll fetch you a handbag.” she said.
I rose from my perch and looked down at myself. The thought of going to Ashford on a Saturday dressed as a girl petrified me... but at least I'm not dressed like a seven year old. Mum returned with a small black handbag and passed it too me. It dangled loosely from my fingers and for the first time since I'd been petticoated, I actually felt like a teenager. “Thanks Mum... I mean... Mummy.” I said, feeling myself blushing.
“You're welcome.” she said. “Right... you need a clean pair of knickers and a nappy.” she added.
“But why?” I fearfully asked.
“To put in your handbag.” she replied. “All petticoatees should carry a clean pair of knickers and a clean nappy... just in case.” she stated. “They also recommend that a nappy is worn for all long car journeys... so consider yourself fortunate that I'm allowing you to wear your knickers today.”
I wasn't at all happy that I had to bring a nappy with me, but carrying one is better than having to wear one. I went from feeling like a teenager to a toddler again as I opened my nappy drawer and put one inside my handbag, along with a pair of rubber knickers, over knickers and a pair of normal knickers, all of which needed to be neatly folded rather than stuffed inside. My mother also gave me a lace trimmed cotton handkerchief to put in my handbag, which I hope I won't need... I can just imagine quickly retrieving my handkerchief in the event of a sudden sneeze, only to find I've grabbed my knickers instead!
It's a thirty minute drive to Ashford. Mummy let me sit in the front passenger seat, but I’d have rather sat in the back where the windows are more tinted. Anyone can see me in the front... but it's relatively early and we're headed for the motorway so the chances of being spotted are slim. My knees felt unusually high thanks to my heeled shoes. My light ditsy skirt covered half my lap, on which my handbag rested. Mum must've noticed me staring at my knees. “They look nice those tights don't they?” she said.
If I was honest I’d have said they look weird. It's like I've got doll's legs; smooth, flawless and synthetic. But I guess they do look nice too, in a weird sort of way. “Yes.” I reply.
“Are you nervous?” Mum asked.
I gulped. “A bit.” I replied. “I'm glad we're not shopping in Maidstone.” I said.
“I thought you'd prefer going somewhere different.” Mum replied. “Now you realise that you're going to have to try some dresses on don't you.” she added.
“Err... yes.” I gulped. I hadn't actually... but Mum wasn't really asking me, she was telling me. “Why do I need a party dress if I’m not having a party?”
“Do you want a party?”
“You know I don't.” I meekly retorted. “I'm just wondering why I need a party dress.”
“It's just part of petticoating Gavin.” she said. “Aren't you excited that you'll be able to choose one that you like?”
“I don't like dresses though Mummy.”
“You said you liked your Sunday dress better than your play dress.” she reminded me. “And if I recall correctly, you like your dresses more than your skirts.”
“Only because my skirts are really short.” I replied. “And just because I like my Sunday dress more than my play dress doesn't mean I like my Sunday dress... if it was up to me I wouldn't have any dresses at all.”
“I know... but it's not up to you.” Mum reminded me. “Think about it this way... you've got ten dresses to choose from and you've got to choose one; there's pink and blue, brown and green and purple and yellow... which would you choose?”
“I don't know... the blue one I guess. It depends.” I replied. “I like my Sunday dress because its plain. I like this skirt because it's not really short... and this blouse isn't really frilly like my others.”
“See... there are things you like when you think about it.”
“Hmmm.” I mused. I knew she was twisting my words somewhat, but I also knew that I'd be getting a new party dress whether I liked it or not and I've got nothing to gain from arguing. I recalled Callum telling me that it's only a matter of time before my first outing and considered the prospect of telling him that he was right. I imagine him retorting with a smug 'told you so', before enquiring further; What did I wear? Where did I go? What did I do there?
“You're being very quiet.” Mum commented after a while. “What are you thinking about?”
“Just stuff.” I grimly replied, nervously thumbing the edges of my handbag. Mum didn't delve any deeper. I spent much of the remaining journey wondering if there's such a thing as a dress that I actually like. I made a mental check-list that included the following; not too short, not too fussy or frilly, no bold prints, no yellow...
Eventually we pulled off the motorway and my nerves began to increase. “Destination in seven minutes.” the sat-nav said. “Turn right at next roundabout.”
Soon we were driving through the suburbs; large residential houses lined the broad busy road. These gave way to large industrial units, office blocks and out of town superstores... then the road is flanked with smaller retail units. The sat-nav directs us around a one-way system, haphazardly directing us toward a multi-story carpark which, only having two stories seemed like an overstatement. “This school here...” Mum said, pointing the building out as we turned off the one-way system. “...was in the news a few years ago.”
“They banned the boys from wearing long trousers and they all wear shorts instead.” she said. “You know those culotte shorts you've got?”
“Yes.” I replied, visualising my short box pleated shorts that do a good impression of a skirt.
Mum took another left, following the voice prompts from the sat-nav unit. “Those are the sort of shorts they wear.” she told me.
“But they look just like a skirt!” I gasped.
“They do... the decided to bring the boy's uniform in line with the girls.”
“Why?” I asked as we drove into the dark and dingy car park.
“Equality.” Mum replied. I gulped and tried to imagine a school in which all the boys wear culotte shorts instead of trousers. It must be freezing in winter. Mum told me that they probably wear warm woolly tights in the winter, before pulling into a vacant space and turning off the engine. “You ready?” she asked.
I gulped and nodded. Mum smiled and unfastened her seatbelt, before reaching over to the back seat to grab her handbag. Unlike mine, hers has a shoulder strap. I take a breath and open the door. My heel clacks loudly as it hits the concrete surface. I stand and glance around before shutting the door. Mum locks it, the alarm beeps, she steps around the car and holds out her hand. “Come on... you've nothing to be afraid of.” she said.
I took a breath and put my hand in hers. My heels clicked and clacked, almost in unison with my mothers as she led me to the exit. The gloomy carpark feels like a sanctuary. I can see the broad daylight ahead, along with numerous shoppers bustling this way and that. A small family group walks into the carpark and passes right by us; mum, dad, teenage daughter and a boy and girl of junior school age... non of them bat an eyelid in spite of us exchanging glances. I gulp as we exit, squinting in the daylight. “Will you let go of my hand please mummy” I quietly asked.
Mum released her grip on me “Sorry... was I squeezing?”
“A bit.” I gulped, glancing nervously at the other shoppers. Any moment now one will point and laugh at the sissy boy in his noisy heels... but no one does. I find myself keeping my eye out for girls my age and specifically girls wearing dresses. Most wear skinny jeans, leggings or short denim shorts with thick black tights and plimsolls. Skirts and dresses seem to be favoured more by adult women and little girls... teenagers wearing them seem to be few and far between. Mum asked if I needed the toilet. “No mummy.” I quietly replied, fearful that someone might overhear the infantile manner in which I address her. Then a thought crossed my mind... which toilet is a petticoated boy supposed to use? I can't imagine using the gents dressed like this, and doubt I'd be allowed to use the ladies. Maybe that's why they recommend we wear a nappy for day trips? I glad I'm not though.
We stroll around some department stores and browse the girls sections. Even before Mummy finally petticoated me, she always took me to browse the girl's clothes so I could get used to all the different styles and fabrics. I look longingly to the boys department... everything is plain, sedate, safe. “These look nice.” Mum said, drawing us to halt by a selection of satin dresses. They're all little girl's dresses and far too small for me. “It's a pity the high street stores don't do them in larger sizes.” mum commented.
I drew her attention to some more grown up styles; a rugged dungaree dress, a casual grey jersey dress, even a pinstriped shift dress looked better than the infantile styles my mother favours. “I'd rather wear something a teenager would wear.” I said. “And you did say I could choose.”
“Teenage clothes are too grown up Gavin.” Mum said. I cringed when she used my name a little too loudly for comfort. There must be half a dozen other shoppers within earshot but none seemed to hear, so far as I could tell anyway. “Come on... lets try somewhere else.” she said.
We exited the department store and wove our way through the bustling outdoor market. I was more worried about loosing my mother than being noticed as a petticoated boy. “Where are we going?” I asked as we left the crowded street stalls behind us.
“I'm looking for a shop called Niñas y Niños.”
“What does that mean?”
“Boys and girls... or girls and boys.” Mummy replied, adding that it's Spanish. “...ah, that looks like it.” she said, gesturing toward a store further down the narrow street. One half of the sign above its windows is pink, the other blue and the colour scheme continues inside, with the floor, walls and racking on one side in blue and the other all in pink, suggesting separate girls and boys sections... the only thing is, there's skirts and dresses, blouses and cute little play-suits on both sides of this store.
“It's all girls clothes!” I say as I cast my eyes around the boy's side of the shop.
“Believe it or not Gavin, they're all boy's clothes on this side of the shop.” she said. After all I've been through recently, I did believe her. I gulped at all the styles and colours, and gulped again when I noticed the sizes on the hangers; boys age 7-8, boys age 9-10... all the way up to age 14-15. As well as pastel coloured skirts, frocks and tops, there's shoes, shorts, play-suits, handbags, hats, gloves and umbrellas too. “These look nice.” Mum says, looking at display of socks in all sorts of pastel colours. I gulped and bit my lip.
We're not alone in the store... there's a couple of grown-ups and what I hope is a young girl with long ringletted hair in the boy's half, and a couple more parent/child groups in the girl's side. I look at the girl with the ringlets. Oner of the grown ups I presume is her mother, and the other the shop assistant. Mum's looking at the back packs and handbags, which like many other items in this store are either candy or pastel colours. All of sudden the girl squeals. Mum and I both turn our heads to see a boy emerge from the changing room. “Oh Andrew!” his mother gasps. “You look delightful!”
The boy doesn't look at all happy and I can't blame him. He's wearing a pale green dress with a kitten print going all around the skirt. Under his mothers instruction, he turns to reveal a huge satin bow on the back. “This is a nice bag.” my mother says, drawing my attention. “You mustn't stare Gavin.” she quietly tells me. “Can you see anything you like?” she asked.
“Not really.” I replied, before asking if I have to choose something from here.
“No... there's a couple more shops we can look in.” she replied, adding that she wanted to continue browsing this one.
The assistant comes and asks if we need any assistance. Mum tells her that we're just browsing, before informing her that it's my birthday next week and we're shopping for my party dress. “Oh lovely. And how old will you be young man?” she asked me.
“Fourteen.” I bashfully replied.
“Well we've got lots of lovely things perfect for a boy your age.” she said. “Just let me know if you want to try anything on.”
I could feel myself blushing. “Yes... thank you.” I politely replied. She returned to the counter. I cast my eyes around the store... pastel shorts with lace around the legs, circle skirts with layers of visible netting, voluminous dresses with kittens, cup cakes, cherries and all sorts of other yucky stuff printed on their skirts. “Lots of lovely things for a boy my age.” I thought. “Blimey!”
The mother and sister are still gushing over the boy in the green kitten print dress. He's about eleven I guess, and his sister about seven. I sheepishly follow my mother and apathetically cast my eyes over everything that she does. “This is cute.” Mum says, removing a girl's swimsuit from the rail. It's turquoise with pink and purple fish printed on it and the tiniest ruffled skirt stitched around its hip. The hanger clearly states 'boys age 12-14'. I can just imagine going swimming in that! As well as swimming costumes, there's tankinis, bikinis and beach dresses too, all for boys!
Thankfully my mother pays no more than a passing interest in the swimwear and saunters along to the next section... underwear. All of my knickers, training bras and cami-vests are white with elasticated lace trim. All of these are über-cute in pastel shades with cutesy prints, and far too many frills and bows. Mum thinks they're nice but says she prefers plain white underwear for me.
The next section is nightwear and my mother wastes no time removing a little white nightie with baby pink trim from the rail. “Oh now this is adorable!” she gushed. I almost leapt backwards as she held it against me. Only my trepidatious heels kept me rooted to the spot. She only held it against me for a moment before holding it aloft and thumbing its skirt, turning it to reveal a zip running up the back to its collar.
I could tell she was taken by it. “I've already got a nightie Mummy... and pyjamas.” I timidly told her.
“I know but ideally you need three.” she replied. “One to wear, one to wash and a clean one in your drawer.”
Meanwhile, the boy emerges from the changing rooms once more, this time dressed as a normal boy. His mother takes his kitten print dress to the counter and pays for it whilst his little sister tells him that she loves his new dress. I overhear that he's in his final term of junior school and the dress is for his school prom!
I try not to stare. Mum's still thumbing the frills of the nightie, of which there were many and most are trimmed with baby pink stitching. There's satin bows too, and beneath its double layered skirt is a built in panty with row upon row of ruffled lace just like my over-knickers, only this lace is baby pink She held it against me once more. I gulped. Its dress section barely covers my hips!
“I know we didn't come shopping for a new nightie...” Mum told me. “...but I don't think I can resist this.” she said, checking the price tag. Thirty five pounds seems like an awful lot of money for a nightie, but my mother seems more than happy to pay the price. As the card transaction processed, Mum asked the assistant where the Mothercare store is and listened intently to the series of left and right turns. After a little more small talk, the assistant bid us farewell and wished me a happy birthday for next week. I gulped and thanked her and left the shop with my handbag hanging from the fingers of my left hand, and a pink & blue boutique carrier bag hanging from my right.
Outside, the boy and his sister and mother are talking. “Andrew that's enough!” she snapped. “You won't be the only boy wearing a dress.” she insisted. Maybe times have changed since my junior prom but... none of the boys wore dresses then, at least not to the prom.
We headed back toward the busy street market but took a left through a snicket that led us through a churchyard. “Ooops.” I said as I scraped my heel on the uneven surface.
“You've got to be cautious on old paving stones like these.” Mum said, before suggesting we sit for a moment so I can take the weight off my feet. We sat but I didn't feel like I needed to sit. “I must say Gavin you're doing far better in those heels than I expected.” Mum told me. “You've only really worn them twice and that's only been around the house.”
“They're OK.” I replied, looking at mine, then my mother's footwear. Her heels are a good inch higher than mine and incredibly slender. I couldn't imagine trying to walk in stilettos. I cast my eyes around the graveyard. Dappled sunlight shone through the trees and the sound of the wind in the leaves and birdsong filled my ears. “It's hard to believe there's a busy high street just over there.” I said, enjoying the solace.
“Yes.” Mum agreed. “That boy looked lovely in his prom dress didn't he.” she added, referring to the boy in Niñas y Niños.
“He didn't look too happy about it though.” I replied.
“He's probably just got first time nerves.” Mum suggested. “You weren't too happy when I put you in your first dress... but you soon got used to them.”
“I wouldn't say I'm used to them Mummy.” I claimed.
“Well you're getting used to them.” Mum retorted. “Right from the beginning you've been smoothing your skirts before you sit and sitting with your knees together.” she told me, adding how I always make sure my frock or skirt is arranged neatly on my lap. As far as I was concerned those things were obvious... I barely gave them a thought. Mum went on to tell me that she was in two minds when we bought my footwear. “I'd have put you in a low heel to start with but you've taken to those like a duck to water.” she said.
“Mine don't look so high next to yours.” I replied, comparing my chunky heels with her stilettos. “I doubt I’d manage in those.”
“Well I've had years of practice.” Mummy replied. “Plus I don't think stilettos are really suitable for children your age.”
“Too grown up?” I guessed.
“Exactly.” Mum agreed. “Come on.” she said, grabbing her bag and standing. I stood and we strolled to the far side of the churchyard, along a cobbled street and onto another busy shopping street. Mum paused on the corner, probably to recall the series of left/right directions she'd been given. “Ah... there's the other church... past that and there should be a shopping centre on the right.” she said.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Mothercare.” Mum replied. “...to get you some new nappies that won't feel quite so soggy in the mornings.” she added. “Then we'll find something to eat.” she said, asking if I was hungry.
“A bit.” I replied. “Mummy.” I said a few moments later. “I'll be OK with the nappies I’ve got for a couple more weeks.” I said. “Even my cheap ones were quite expensive and I don't really need any new ones..” I added.
“Well that's very thoughtful Gavin. They certainly aren't cheap.” Mum replied. I wasn't really thinking of the cost... I was just hoping to avoid another humiliating experience in Mothercare.
Fifty yards later we saw the large Debenhams store and the modest shopping centre that conjoins it. It boasts all the major high street stores; Next, John Lewis,New Look, River Island, Top Shop and Top Man... and Mothercare. Like our local store, the Petticare section is tucked away at the back and Mummy wasted no time finding a member of staff to assist us. “Which ones are you currently wearing love?” the assistant asked me.
“Err... I'm not sure.” I bashfully said. I hope she doesn't think I’m wearing one now! Adding to my embarrassment, Mummy reminded me that I had one in my handbag, and there in the back of the store, in front of a handful of other shoppers, I had to open my bag and remove the nappy. The assistant took it from my trembling hand.
“Ah yes...” the assistant said. “...our economy range.” She handed the vacuum packed nappy back to me and explained the various types to my mother as I put the nappy back in my handbag. My cheeks must have been crimson. I couldn't help but glance around nervously, but made damn sure that I didn't make eye contact with anyone else. Mummy discussed my 'needs' with the assistant, told her that I'm regularly wet and said that I'm already using a depilatory nappy rash cream. The assistant explained that non-wicking nappies aren't really recommended for 'everyday' use. They're fine if they get changed within an hour or two... but for all day or over night, she highly recommends a wicking type. The assistant turned to me and asked if I was having any problems with nappy rash.
“Err... no.” I meekly replied.
“He's very careful on that front aren't you Gavin.” Mum said.
“Yes... Mummy.” I timidly replied. This is worse than the last time we were in Mothercare! Mummy couldn't decide whether to buy me a pack of fourteen disposable wicking nappies, or a pack of three washable wicking nappies. The cost was comparable and Mummy asked my opinion. Despite the fact that I'm almost fourteen and don't even need any nappies, I made a decision based on the prospect of having to carry them around a busy town centre on a Saturday afternoon. The pack of washable nappies would easily fit into a carrier bag and the bumper pack of fourteen disposable nappies wouldn't. I suggested the washable ones and Mum agreed.
“We have a fitting room if you'd like us to put him in one now.” the assistant said as my mother paid.
“Oh er.... no.” Mum smiled. “That won't be necessary.” she added, glancing at me.
Phew! I thought... but then I felt myself blushing because the assistant probably thinks I'm already wearing a nappy. At that moment a boy about my age emerged from the fitting room. His wrist wiped his eye. He's clearly been crying. Behind him I presumed is his mother; a stern looking middle aged lady who bluntly thanked the assistant as she marched the boy out. He's wearing normal boy's clothing, but the all too familiar bulbous bulk of a nappy is obvious. “Don't stare Gavin.” Mum quietly said.
I averted my eyes and glanced at the assistant. “It'll be his first one.” she said to me.
“He'll soon get used to them.” my mother replied.
That's easy for her to say... she doesn't have to wear them! After my initial bout of nerves when we exited the car park, I'd been feeling quite relaxed on my first day out... up until we visited Mothercare that is. I've never been so embarrassed in my whole life and was glad to get out of there.
“Shall we find a nice little back street café or would you prefer Burger King or something?” Mummy asked.
We just happened to be approaching the Burger King and it was far too busy for comfort. Kids my age gravitate to such places and dressed at I am, I'd rather avoid kids my own age. By the time we'd found somewhere that wasn't really busy, I was absolutely ravenous. We took a table and the waitress took our order, but Mummy wouldn't let me have anything that might drip on my blouse or get my fingers greasy... so it was a plain cheese and onion sandwich with neither butter nor mayonnaise for me whilst Mummy had a baked potato with cheese and coleslaw. “You must be one of the Academy boys.” the waitress said when she fetched our meals.
“Erm... no.” I replied. Mummy told her that we're only here for the day.
“Yes.” I replied.
“It's Gavin's birthday next week so we're looking for a new party dress.”
“Well you've come to the right place... we've got quite a few shops catering for boys like you.” the waitress said.
“So I understand”. Mummy replied. I was half expecting Mummy to tell her that I've just got some new nappies, and add that I’m a regular bed wetter or reveal some other detail to a complete stranger for no other reason than to embarrass me... but she didn't.
Mummy asked how my sandwich was. “Good thank you.” I said, but in truth it was really quite bland. I'd completely forgotten that I was wearing lipstick until I noticed it imprinted on the bread.
“Wasn't there anything that caught your eye in Niñas y Niños?” Mummy asked.
“Not really... all the colours were too...” I wasn't sure how to describe them, but they reminded me of sweets. “...sugary.” I added.
“Yes they were a bit.” Mummy smiled. “Not cheap either.” she added.
After our elevenses (Mummy said it was too early to be called lunch), we headed for another store called Beau Boys... it's name suggested all I needed to know. At a glance it looked like a trendy street style store with the shop name painted in a bold yet hard to read graffiti font. “It's called Belle-Boiz Mummy.” I said having unravelled the funky serifs.
“So it is.” Mummy replied as we approached. The shop doesn't have a large frontage with only room for two mannequins in the window. One displays an overcoat in Royal Blue and the other displays a sailor style dress in navy blue. There's other items displayed such as bags, shoes and hats, but I only had a passing glance as we entered the store. Like the previous shop, it's full of prissy frocks, skirts, tops and accessories, but the overall palette is a lot more appealing. Of course there's a significant amount of pink, lilac, baby blue and lemon yellow, but also darker shades of blue, purple, green and brown.
It's not a big store by any means but every scrap of wall-space is packed with rails and shelves. We're also the only people in there, apart from the staff of course. The proprietor greets us and offers assistance. Mummy tells her that we're looking for a party dress for me, before saying that the nautical frock in the window caught her eye. The proprietor wasted no time in finding the dress on the packed rails. “This one.” she said, removing one and holding it aloft. “It's not what I'd call a party dress but it is very nice.”
Mum agreed and asked if I’d like to try it. One thing I've learned in recent weeks is that some questions are really instructions, and I suspected this wasn't a question. “Err... yes.... please.” I awkwardly replied, gulping and adding “Mummy.”
She accompanied me to the cramped changing room and unbuttoned my blouse for me. I stepped out of my skirt and glanced at my reflection. My white knickers are clearly visible through my nude coloured tights, and I can just about make out my training bra through my lace trimmed camisole top. Mummy held the dress up and I pushed my arm through its sleeves and let it drop around me. Unlike all the others I've worn, this has a zip on one side running from hip to armpit rather than buttons up the back. It has white trim around its big square collar which terminates with a satin bow at its V neck. Behind this is a fabric panel giving the impression of a top beneath. Like my other frocks it's not too short, landing an inch or two above my knees and as far as dresses are concerned, it's not too bad. I'm a bag of nerves as Mummy leads me back into the shop where there's a big mirror so I can see myself property. Mummy used words such as classic and timeless to describe it. The proprietor agreed and claimed that it's one of the more popular styles amongst the boys. Although Mummy loved it, she was in two minds because it's not really a party dress. “Well continue browsing by all means.” the proprietor said, before suggesting a couple of options.
“Oh now that's a party dress!” my mother said as the proprietor held aloft a cream floral frock with a voluminous skirt and a broad burgundy satin sash around the waist, tied in a huge bow at the back.
Mummy asked my opinion and I said it was too flowery. She next suggestion was a similar style but in a leaf green colour with a broad white sash. The colour looked OK, but the style and in particular the satin sash put me off a little. Mummy told me that the style, and in particular the satin sash and big bow on the back is a party dress. “Maybe a blue one? You look nice in blue.” she said.
“I might have just the thing.” the proprietor said, digging out a pale blue frock with a little too much lacy trim for my liking. “It's got the nautical collar and I’ve got a range of sashes... I'll happily throw one in.” she said.
Mum loved it and wanted to see how it looked. Five minutes later I'm stood in front of the big mirror whilst the proprietor ties a broad white sash around my waist. Mum listens intently as she explains how to tie the perfect 'dress' bow, which involves a peculiar knot that won't come undone by pulling in the tails. Mum wanted to tie the bow herself and had a few attempts at tying the unfamiliar knot. Meanwhile I'm stood staring at myself and wishing we could head home sooner rather than later. Once Mummy was happy with my sash, she turned me this way and that so I could see how it looked from the back. It'd look as lot better without the big flouncy bow or all the lacy trim, but it's certainly not the worst dress I've seen today. “I liked the other one best Mummy.” I said. I didn't actually want the other one, but if this humiliating shopping trip is going to end sooner rather than later, I'd best decide on a dress sooner rather than later... and given a choice between this one and that one, I’d rather have that one.
“So did I.” Mummy replied, raising my hopes. “But that's not a party dress and this one is.” she said.
I gulped and weighed up my options... more shops and more frocks to try, or saying yes to this dress. “OK.” I bashfully said.
“You sure?” Mummy asked. I nodded. Mum smiled. I gulped.
Mummy buttoned me back into my blouse whilst the proprietor packed my dress... not in a bag but a box. The dress cost twenty pounds and sash was free, saving her a fiver. “What a nice shop.” Mummy said after we left. “And affordable too.” she added.
“Can we go home now Mummy?” I asked.
Mum checked her wristwatch. “Well there's still a couple more shops I’d like to have a look at.” she said, listing one called Teen Zone and a charity shop.
“But I've got my dress now.” I said.
“There's no harm in browsing, and we've still got at least an hour on the parking ticket.” she said.
Teen Zone claims to sell unisex fashions for tweens and teens, but inside there's nothing but girl's clothes. The styles are far more sedate than those in Niñas y Niños and Belle-Boiz. There's short skater skirts, little netted kilts, T shirts with punky prints, distressed denim shorts, neon leggings, pinstriped pedal pushers, patterned tights and so on. Mummy made a beeline for the back of the store where the frocks and dresses hung. I followed. My heels clacked loudly on the marble floor, causing the handful of other shoppers to glance in my direction. “I like this style.” Mummy said, pointing out a collection of both plain and plaid frocks with white rounded collars. They're the sort of thing I'd expect a college girl to wear, or maybe a receptionist. There's denim dungaree dresses and some corduroy pinafores which to my boyish eye seem quite palatable. “Not really party dresses though.” Mummy commented.
“I've already got my party dress Mummy.” I quietly reminded her.
“Yes.” she smiled. “I was just wanting to b a browse really.” she said. We did browse for a few minutes... well, Mummy did. I was hoping that having chosen my party dress that we'd have headed straight back to the car... but no. I sheepishly followed as Mummy looked at hats and gloves and bags and scarves. Then she returned to the hats and said I could do with one when I’m playing out in the sun. “Too expensive though.” she said after checking a few prices and baulking at their fifteen and twenty pound price tags. Around the counter area is a display of nail varnishes, lip balms, hair clips and Alice bands. Mummy has a good look at the hair accessories. “This is cute.” she says, showing me a hair clip that's like a big wooden button.
Why would anyone wear a button in their hair? I wondered. A bow, flower or even a butterfly I can understand but a button seems bizarre. Many of the hair accessories would look more at home stuck to a fridge door rather than worn in someone's hair. There's pieces of fruit such as strawberries, cherries, bananas and even a slice of watermelon. There's a teddy face, a tea pot, hot air balloon, a car, a tractor and a wooden train. A kitten, a frog, an owl, a bird and a bat. Actually I quite liked the bat. Then Mummy draws my attention to one shaped like a doggy bone, a cupcake, even an ice cream cone. “You're more than welcome to try them.” the girl behind the counter said, twisting a counter top 'hello kitty' mirror around to face us.
“How much are they?” Mummy asked.
“The small ones are two pounds each or three for five pounds.” the girl said. “The large ones are four pounds each or three for ten.” the girl said.
I was hoping that they'd be too expensive but Mummy felt the price was quite reasonable, and proceeded to choose some for me. I wouldn't mind but she tried seven or eight different ones in my hair before deciding on the big wooden button, the VW car and a cupcake, stating that the car clip would be perfect with my play dress. I could feel myself blush as a wry smile swept the assistant's face. “You're not one of the Academy boys I take it?” she asked me. I gulped and shook my head. Mummy proudly told her that I'm a petticoatee which made me blush even more. “Oh how nice... that's ten pounds please.” she said.
Mummy dug a ten pound note from her purse as the girl put the hair clips into a bag. I reached for the one in my hair, but Mummy said that I should keep it in. “It's nice.” she added. The assistant agreed. I left the store with the big wooden button clipped to the side of my head.
“Are there any more shops Mummy?” I mournfully asked as we sauntered along the pavement.
“Not really.” Mummy replied. “We've got what we came for.” she said. “...and a few extra bits and bobs.” she added. We began to make our way back to the carpark, although the route took us in and out of various shops including a cake shop, a housewares shop and a charity shop.
It's a typical charity shop, with rails of clothes, shelves of books and brick-a-brack and boxes of shoes. There's a couple of volunteers chatting behind the counter who acknowledge us as we enter. The scent of musty old stuff fills my nostrils as I sheepishly follow my mother who silently browses the rails... briefly looking at a selection of school wear. Mummy removes a grey school pinafore. “Something like this might be good for the garden.” she said, describing it as comfortable, hard wearing and something she won't mind getting dirty. “Far too small though.” the said after holding it against me. Of course it's too small, I think, it's a girls junior school uniform!
She browses the casual clothes; skirts, t-shirts, frocks and tops. Typically for a charity shop, the clothes are arranged by colour rather than size and Mummy made sure that she had a look at everything. Eventually my mother found a rust coloured corduroy skirt and coupled it with a brown plaid shirt that had previously caught her eye. Mummy said they'd be perfect for the garden and held both against me to check the size. “Do I have to try them on?” I timidly asked.
“The blouse will certainly fit.” she said, checking the culottes a second time. “They'll be fine.” she added, pointing out the elasticated section on the back of the waist.
We approached the counter and Mummy greeted the volunteers. “You must be one of the Academy boys.” one of them said to me.
“Err... no.” I meekly replied.
“Gavin's a petticoatee.” Mummy told them, adding that we're just here for the day, shopping for my party dress because it's my birthday next week.
“Oh how nice.” the volunteer said before turning her eyes on the items. “These are lovely.” she commented as she tapped the prices into the till; three pounds for the skirt and five for the blouse.
“They're nice enough for helping in the garden.” Mummy replied. “Oh that reminds me... you could do with a hat Gavin.” she remembered, casting her eyes around the store.
The volunteer pointed out some formal hats and fascinators displayed with the handbags, plus a box containing baseball caps, beanies and bobble hats. “Oh... actually.” the volunteer announced, stepping around the counter and heading for the stand full of second hand school wear. “There's these from the girl's grammar school.” she said, holding a felt hat in one hand and straw hat in the other.
“The straw one looks ideal.” Mum said, taking it from the volunteer and plonking it on my head. I looked up at its brim and gulped. Mum smiled and removed it. “Just what you need.” she said, placing it on the counter.
I really should protest but for all I know, I might have already got a fair few days added on to the end of my four week trial. There's been times that I know I've forgotten to say 'mummy' and times when I've moaned or complained about the things I’ve been expected to do and wear. I gulped and glared at the hat with its ribbon and bow. I hated it but after recalling the horrendous hats and bonnets in the Niñas y Niños shop with their lace, frills and pastel colours that gave me the chills... I've got off lightly with a simple straw boater. The volunteer put it in the bag with my skirt and blouse. Mum handed her the cash and said we'd best be getting going before she spends any more money.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief as we finally headed to the car park. Our heels echoed as we crossed the dimly lit space. In one hand I’m carrying the large Niñas y Niños bag that contains my new nightie and my new nappies, tucked under my other arm is the box that hold my party dress and dangling from my fingers is my handbag, with my spare knickers, nappy and a hanky inside. Mummy carries the charity shop bag and other items. We pack the bags in the boot and I ask if I can sit in the back where I can hide behind the tinted windows. “Thanks Mummy.” I chirp when she says yes.
It feels good to be headed back home again... but Mummy spoils my optimism by asking if I'm looking forward to trying my new nappies. “Not really Mummy.” I meekly reply, adding that I never look forward to bedtime. I stare out of the window and try not to think about them. I'm going to have to tell Callum that he was right and mummy did take me on an outing. I wonder if he's been to Ashford's trio of peculiar shops. I wonder if he knows about the school where the boys all wear culottes. I might have to tell him about my party dress, but I’ll mention nothing of my new nappies.
I recalled the boy in Niñas y Niños and his kitten print party dress. I can empathise with him and hope he's not the only boy who's being pestered into wearing a dress for the school prom. I also recalled my own junior prom in the final week of Year 6. It was four years ago but I remember it well. We lurked in small, distinct groups; boys in shirts and trousers and ties, the girls in their dresses, giggling and swinging their handbags. Everyone was too shy to dance to begin with and I ended up dancing with Meredith Brown, a stocky and bossy girl from farming stock. I didn't want to dance but I was too scared of her to say no. My friends laughed at me and the embarrassment lasted for days. I imagined the scene but put myself in a party dress... everyone is laughing at me as I imagined having to dance with Meredith. “You're being very quiet.” Mummy said. “What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing... just looking out the window.” I replied.
“I do like that button in your hair.” she said, looking at my via the rear view mirror. I raised my fingers to it and even after such a short time, I've already become accustomed to its presence. I guess I’m just used to having things in my hair... but this button is comparatively large compared to my bows and slides. Mummy said that it's perfect for a boy because a simple button is neither boyish nor girlie. The same could be said for my big cupcake clip, she reckoned, before claiming that the hair clip with the wooden car is definitely boyish. I hate it when Mummy talks like that... my car print play dress is supposedly boyish, and she described my baby blue shorts as 'boyish' when they're clearly girl's shorts. Even my jelly shoes are boyish according to Mummy and now she's claiming that my new hair clips are boyish too!
When we arrive at Granny's house, Mummy wastes no time drawing her attention to the clip in my hair. Granny isn't overly impressed, but she does say that it's a bit more boyish then a bow. Part of me wanted to scream 'there's nothing about me that's boyish!'... but I knew that wouldn't go down well. “Do I detect a touch of make-up?” my grandmother said as I sat in her lounge.
“Erm... yes.” I replied. “Mummy did it.” I added, just in case she was thinking I’d applied it myself.
“We've been shopping to Ashford.” Mummy chirped.
“Dressed like that.” Granny gasped.
“He's got to go out sooner or later Mum.” my mother told her. “It wouldn't be fair to them cooped up indoors all the time.” she added.
“Well I suppose.” Granny sighed. “At least he's not dressed like a seven year old.” she added, looking me up and down. Mummy told her that I'd chosen the skirt myself and Granny asked me to stand so she could have a proper look. “Those tights look a bit big.” she said. “They're going baggy at the knees.”
“They're mine.” Mummy said as I looked down at myself... my thin nude tights are indeed wrinkled at the knees.
“You don't see many button back blouses these days.” Granny commented, before saying it was nice. At least she didn't say 'boyish'!
After a natter with granny and cup of tea, Mummy left me with Granny whilst she did the grocery shopping. “Have you finished your sampler yet?” Granny asked.
“No.” I replied. “I forgot to bring it.” I added.
“Well we'll just have to think of something else to do.” she smiled.
A short silence passed before she asked how my week had been. “I had to do ballet yesterday.” I grumbled, recalling the horror of the pink leotard and pancake tutu. Granny asked if it was for my active playtime and I nodded. She asked if I enjoyed it. “Not really... but the day before Mummy had me skipping round the garden where all the neighbours can see... at least I was indoors 'coz it was raining.” I moaned.
“Because.” Granny corrected. “Petticoated boys are supposed to speak correctly remember.”
“Sorry.” I meekly peeped. “Granny?” I asked.
“Do you think it's right that Mummy's petticoated me?” I asked. “Sometimes I get the feeling that you don't approve and sometimes it feels like you do.”
“Well I am in two minds about it. Your mother and I discussed it at length when she was considering petticoating you and there were some aspects that I wasn't too keen on.” she said, claiming that I was supposed to be in nappies both day and night for at least the first week. “...but I didn't think that was fair so she agreed to bedtime nappies only, providing you behaved yourself.” Granny explained. “My other reservation was the fact that you're already a good boy and I'm not sure what good it's supposed to do you.” she said, before adding that petticoating certainly won't do me any harm. “I only wish more boys were petticoated, then you wouldn't feel quite so alone.” she added.
“There's a boy in my class who's petticoated too.” I informed her. “And my friend Jason has a cousin called Peter who's a petticoatee.”
“I see.” Granny replied. “Well that's something I suppose.” she said. I told her about the homework group that I attend instead of PE and said there were likely to be a few others too. “So you're not the only petticoatee in school.” she mused. I shook my head and Granny said that makes her feel better. “Are you looking forward to your birthday next week?” she asked.
“Not really.” I groaned. “Mummy bought me a party dress today and I'm worried she's planning a surprise party for me.” I said.
“Well I can assure you that there's no party being planned.” Granny replied.
“So why do I need a party dress?”
“A party dress is just a nice dress Gavin, there doesn't need to be a party to go... just as you don't have to wait until Sunday to wear a Sunday dress.”
“I do.” I mumbled.
Granny cast me an empathetic smile. “Mummy tells me you've been learning do a running skip.” she said after a short silence. I nodded and said that I can't do it properly. “There should be a skipping rope in the shed.” she said, suggesting I practise for a while.
“Do I have to Granny?” I moaned.
“Well it's better than sitting around doing nothing.” she said.
“I won't be able to skip in these shoes though.” I said, twisting my foot to show her my high heeled shoes.
“They'll be fine.” Granny said, stating that it's only a two-and-a-half inch heel and a blocky one at that. “Come on... I might even have a go myself.” she said.
Granny's house is on the edge of suburbia and her back garden isn't overlooked by anyone, so I wasn't worried about leaving the confines of the house... I was more than a little concerned about trying to skip in heels though. They clicked and clacked all the way down the path, at the end of which is granny's shed. She soon found a skipping rope and handed it to me. I reiterated that I might not be able to do it in my heeled shoes. “Well there's no harm in trying.” she said. I assumed the position with the rope hung at the back of my ankles, took a deep breath and swung the rope over my head... one petticoat two petticoat three petticoat four. I didn't count the rhyme out loud. Instead I muttered under my breath but I quickly discovered that I can skip in my heels. “I knew you could.” Granny clapped. “Let's see if still can.”
I was more nervous for Granny than I was for myself. She's in her late fifties and I fear she might break a hip. Old people tend to do that, I've heard. She assumed the starting position and swung the rope. “Eeny meeny miny moe, catch a boy by the toe, pull his hair then let him go, eeny meeny miny moe.” She stopped when her rhyme ended and chuckled. “Oh that takes me right back to junior school.” she said.
“I've never heard that rhyme before Granny.” I said.
“It's one of many we made up when we were little... we used to add all sort of verses.” she reminisced. “Eeny meeny miny moe, ride a pony through the snow, turn around it's time for home, eeny meeny miny moe.”
“Granny that's brilliant!” I exclaimed. She ran forward four paces through the second line, turned around in the third and ran back for the fourth... and like me she's wearing heels!
“Why don't you try?” she said. “I'm all out of puff.” she added.
I took the rope and prepared to begin. “Eeny meeny minie moe...” I skipped on the spot. “..ride a pony... oh.” I missed the second skip and stopped. I assumed the starting position once more. “Eeny meeny miny oh...” I missed again.
“Keep trying.” Granny said. “I'll fetch some juice.”
I know it's hard to believe that a boy of almost fourteen is seemingly willing to skip around the garden, or at least try to. I know how 'wrong' it must seem. It certainly feels wrong, especially at first. I guess it's the effects of a few minutes of cardiovascular exercise; adrenalin and serotonin level increase and one is naturally inclined to carry on... then it's easy to put any thoughts of how silly I must look to the back of my mind and I can focus in trying to skip in time. I recited Granny's rhyme over and over. I even managed to skip forward through the second line more often than not, but couldn't quite get the hang of the one-hundred and eighty degree turn... so just carried on until I ran out of lawn, stopped, turned and skipped all the way back. I know it's hard to believe that a boy of almost fourteen years would feel proud of such an achievement, but he did.
“Well done Gavin!” my grandmother exclaimed when she returned. “In heels too!” she gushed. “You'll have to show mummy when she gets back.” she suggested.
It's weird when granny refers to my mother as 'mummy'... normally it's just 'your mother'. She seldom uses 'mum', but recently I've noticed, it's mummy more often than not. I've even begun thinking 'mummy' and know I’ve slipped up a couple of times at school. I note that Callum has too. “I wonder if he can skip around the garden?” I think. Not that I'm going to ask him, or admit to doing it myself. “Granny do you know a game called 'two-balls'?” I asked, describing it as best I could.
“Oh yes.” she said. “All the girls played it when I was little.”
“Can you teach me?” I asked.
“Erm... well... I suppose.” she replied, clearly bemused by my request. “We'd need two tennis balls though, which I know I haven't got.”
“Does Mummy know how to play it?
“Oh I doubt it. When your mother was that age it was all playstation and nintendo.” Granny replied. “Traditional games died a death when video games came along... and child obesity sky rocketed.” she added. “I'm surprised you've even heard of two-balls.”
I timidly explained that my friend Jason was telling me that his cousin Peter also does active play and as well as hopscotch and skipping, he plays two-balls and has a netball hoop. I then explained how I don't like having to skip around my own back garden because all the neighbours can see me, but I could play two-balls and netball no the patio, where they can't see me. Granny said she understood and would see what she could do. It's been fifty years since she's played two-ball so will have see if she can still remember the rhymes and routines. “It's quite complicated you know.” she warned. “You need speed, good coordination, an eagle eye, balance, rhythm...” she listed, hinting that it might be above me.
“Well... if a girl can do it.” I said.
“True.” Granny chirped.
“There you are!” Mum hollered from the back door. “I've been all over the house.” she claimed as she approached. Granny said I had something to show her and prompted me to skip down the garden. Reluctantly I stepped back a few paces, slung the rope so it hung behind my ankles, recalled the rhyme, took a breath and swung the rope. Mummy applauded when I reached the end of the lawn. I felt bashful, proud and embarrassed when I skipped back. My cheeks must have been crimson and I couldn't help but grin... although I prefer to believe that I was trying to grit my teeth. “I knew you'd get it eventually.” Mummy said.
We didn't stay long after Mummy returned because there's groceries that need to be in the fridge. I had to make several nerve racking trips from the car to the house to unload all the shopping. Each time I checked the coast was clear before trotting out and trotting back; click clack click clack, thrice there and back.
After supper, Mummy unpacked all my new things. She gushed over my baby blue party dress before hanging over a dining chair. The rooted through the charity bag and plonked the hat on my head. I tilted it back a peered bashfully up at its brim. Mummy smiled sweetly at me before pulling out the skirt and shirt she'd also bought. “Shall we try these on?” she suggested. I nodded. She exited the kitchen. I followed. “You may as well bring your new nappies up.” she said. I stopped and cringed and turned and sighed and grabbed them.
Mummy unbuttoned my blouse for me and I stepped out of my little ditsy rara skirt. “Those tights have gone baggy haven't they.” Mum commented, before suggesting I take them off. I stepped into the brown corduroy skirt which unlike all my other skirts (and shorts) actually fastens at the front. Apart from my school shirts and T shirts, Mummy buttons me into everything... buttoning myself into my new (to me) blouse felt almost liberating, even if it was really fiddly because the buttons were on the wrong side. My mother looked me up and down and turned her nose up a little. “It's not very nice but it'll do for helping in the garden.” she said before grabbing me a pair of knee socks.
Mummy unpacked my new nappies as I rolled my socks up my legs. The pelerine pattern stretched around my calves and I spent a moment making sure they were straight and even. Mummy might not think my outfit is very nice but compared to everything else I've worn of late, I quite like it. The brown plaid blouse is neither prissy not pretty, although it does have a bib detail with frilly trim. Its long sleeves have relatively long cuffs and a slight bell, but other than that it looks and feels more like a shirt than a blouse. “Here.” my mother said, handing me the three thick washable nappies. “Put them in your drawer.” she added. Unlike the nappies I’m used to, these have a soft towelling fabric and six plastic press-studs; three on each front side. Mummy suggested I leave one on my pillow ready for bath time and prompted me to choose one. There's no way I'd have chosen the baby pink one despite the embroidered bunny rabbit being the least worst of the three designs. The others feature a butterfly and a flower on the front and I opted for the white one with the flower, putting the baby blue and pink nappies in my drawer.
I lingered for a moment in front of the hallway mirror and frown a little at what I see. I'm reminded of the plain Jane's and daggy girls who never seem the wear anything fashionable; the sort the other trendier girls giggle and snigger at. I’m dressed like on those girls but it doesn't really bother me. I think this might be my favourite outfit so far.
I spent half an hour or so doing my cross-stitch sampler whilst Mummy made supper. She buttoned me into my pinny and I laid the table, then helped clean and tidy the kitchen afterwards. Once everything was done, I turned to my mother and politely said “Will you unbutton me please Mummy?”
She smiled and I turned my back to her. “I do love our little routines.” she said as she undid the two buttons between my shoulders. “Which of your DVDs shall we watch tonight?” she asked.
“Erm... I don't know.” I replied, trying to recall all the titles. “Mulan?” I suggested.
The film hadn't ended by 7.00pm but I was really enjoying it. I asked Mummy if she'd delay my bath, it being Saturday and all... but she said no, but offered a compromise. “You can watch the end after your bath.”
As is my routine, I fetched my nappy and put it on the cistern before getting into my lukewarm bubble bath. Mummy washed my hair. “I do hope your new nappies are as dry as they say.” she said.
“Do I still have to wear my rubbers with them?” I asked. Mummy said yes. “Oh.” I said. “They really dig in.” I moaned.
“Well they need to be snug so they don't leak.” my mother reminded me. She left me alone to finish off and after drying myself before brushing my teeth, I shyly returned to my bedroom wearing my new nappy where my mother was waiting. The all too familiar wry smile swept her face as she looked me up and down. She beckoned me over and felt the towelling fabric, squished the padding, patted my backside and checked they were sung around the waist, before telling me to put a pair of rubbers on.
I pulled them up whilst she pulled down the zip on the back of my new nightie. It looks far too prissy for comfort and given the choice I think I'd prefer my girlie pyjama top and frilly over knickers. Mummy hold it open. It's like stepping into a leotard that's stitched into a dress. I push my hands through its short puffed princess sleeves and Mummy fastens the zip. She turns me to face her and steps back. “It's lovely.” she said. “Shorter than I expected though.” she added. “Come on, lets watch the rest of your film.”
I realised just how short it was when I saw myself in the hallway mirror. “It's far too short Mummy.” I claimed as I followed her to the lounge.
“It is very short Gavin.” my mother agreed. “It's a baby-doll nightie and it's supposed to be short.” she informed me. It was bad enough when I thought it was just a nightie... now it's called a 'baby doll' nightie I like it even less. Mummy sat on the sofa and suggested I sit on the floor between her legs. “Then I can put your hair in rags whilst we're watching the end of the film.”
The nappy felt like a cushion when I sat. The nightie barely covered any of my lap. There's a clear line high on my lap where my suntan begins and ends. Mummy combs and divides my hair into sections; wrapping each in a length of fabric. I'm going to look like such a sissy when my hair is all curly tomorrow, but the process of having it tied in the rags I find strangely comforting. Once done, Mummy stretched a hairnet over my head and once the movie had ended, she sent me to bed. “Oh, Gavin.” she said as I trotted out. “Can you take this up.” she said, handing me the nanny-cam.
It must have been in the lounge since Friday when I was prancing about in front of the ballet DVD, but I can't help but wonder if it was watching me watching my Disney DVD, whilst Mummy put my hair in rags. I put the little wi-fi camera between the dolls on my bookshelf and made sure it could see both my desk and my bed. My mother will no doubt be watching on her phone at this very moment. I briefly look at my head in my vanity mirror before shutting my curtains and climbing into bed. I roll onto my side, shut my eyes and sigh.
My new nappy does feel different; a little thicker, possibly more dense but the fact I'm wearing a nappy feels almost normal. It's over two weeks since I've slept without one and whilst I long to be told I don't need it, I reckon it'd take a few nights to get used to being without it. I expect Mummy will leave the plastic sheet on my bed for a while, just in case.
In the morning, Mummy asks if I'm dry and I honestly say I don't know. The lavish application of nappy rash cream feels moist anyway. Mummy tells me that I’ll be able to tell because the embroidered design on the front of my nappy is supposed to turn pink when it's wet... although we won't be able to see until I've taken my nightie off. “Was it comfortable?” she asked.
“My nappy or my nightie?”
“Well... both I guess.”
“I guess.” I replied. Mummy opened my wardrobe and removed my pale blue play dress and suggested that I wear it today. “But it's Sunday Mummy.” I reminded her.
“I know but I though it might make a nice change to wear something different... and this is still nice enough for a Sunday.” Mummy claimed. She hung the dress from the wardrobe door and told me to get myself some clean underwear and some ankle socks out.
“Can I wear tights instead of socks today please?” I asked, adding that they cover up my hairy knees.
“They're not that hairy.” Mummy said, looking at my legs. “But yes... you look nice in tights.” She unzipped my nightie and I stepped out of it. “No leaks.” she said after inspecting it. “But your flower's gone pink.” she said. My nappy can be seen through my translucent rubber knickers and the embroidered flower design has changed from having yellow petals to bright candy pink ones. I guess the butterfly and bunny rabbit on my other nappies do the same.
After my shower, I dried myself and removed my shower cap before brushing my teeth. My hair is still wrapped in rags and covered with ah air net. It looks really silly and I'm not looking forward to seeing myself with curls... but at least this time I know they'll wash out before school tomorrow. Mummy entered the bathroom and asked if I'd put my nappy in the bucket. Since I had a mouthful of toothpaste, I replied with a nod. “I'll show you what to do with it after you've brushed your teeth.” she said. I was embarrassed by her presence. All I’m wearing are the rags and my hairnet, and now I’ve no hair at all down there, I feel more naked than ever. “Right.” she said as I put my toothbrush away. “Fill the sink with hot water...” she instructed. “...and give your nappy a good rinse.”
“Don't I just put it in the washing machine?” I quizzed.
“It's not worth putting the machine on for just one nappy." Mummy told me. “It won't bite.” she said as I hesitantly reached into my nappy bucket.
“It's wet though.” I whined.
“And you'll be washing your hands after you've rinsed all the wee out.” she said.
I suppose I'll have to do this every morning, I figured as I rinsed the infantile garment. Squeezing out the water was really hard because it's designed to let the water in and keep it in. Mummy left and returned with the packaging. “Ah, there's a knack.” she said, instructing me to roll it from the back. “Is that easier?” she asked.
“Yes mummy.” I said. “Thanks.” I added. The water flooded out relatively freely doing it this way, and Mummy explained that it should be hung from the back when drying. I gulped at the thought of one of my nappies hanging from the washing line and my fears must have been written all over may face.
“Don't worry... it'll dry it on your radiator.” she said. “No one will see.” she assured. I had to squash roll the nappy a few times to get all the liquid out, then do it all again, rinsing it in clean hot water... then its put to soak for a few hours, and after that, it can go in the machine for a quick spin before being hung to dry. Mummy figured that the flower petals will return to yellow when it's properly dry, but wasn't sure how long it would take.
It didn't seem right wearing my colourful play dress on a Sunday. Mummy removed my rags and separated my curls, before putting the VW Beetle slide in my hair, which echoed the resplendent rows of cars and trucks printed on my dress. Sunday is a lazy day so I won't be playing in the garden today. I spent much of the morning reading Anne of Green Gables and did a little more of my cross stitch sampler, before donning my pinny and putting my nappy in the washing machine, setting the dial to the rinse and spin setting. “Will it take ages Mummy?” I asked.
“No it's just a quick rinse, not a full wash cycle.” she told me, adding that it should take no longer than about ten minutes. “You can help me wipe down the kitchen whilst we're waiting.” she added.
Mummy gave me a damp cloth with which I wiped all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, kitchen worktops and even around the sink and draining board too. According to my mother, it's worth finding a ten minute job to do rather than idly waiting. The washing machine shudders to a halt and I take the nappy up to my room. The drying rack that hooks over my radiator is full of the knickers, socks, tights and training bras that I laundered yesterday morning. They're all dry so I put them away before hanging my damp laundered nappy from the rack. As Mummy unbuttoned my apron, she suggested that tomorrow, I should put my nappy in the washing machine as son as I get home from school. “...that way it should be done by the time you've changed into your play clothes.” she told me.
Come Monday morning, my routine begins with selecting my play clothes for after school, then a quick shower is followed by rinsing and wringing out my nappy before putting it to soak... then its dressed and breakfast and off to school I go. At some random point, one of my teachers will ask me to stay back after class when they'll check I’ve still got my training bra on. When I return home I put my nappy in the washing machine, change into my play clothes then put the spin dried nappy on my radiator where it can dry properly... then I have half an hour of active play which involves fifteen minutes of hopscotch and fifteen minutes of skipping around the garden. Then I do my homework assignments, have some supper and help clear up afterwards, then entertain myself for a while either reading or doing needlepoint until its time for my bath.
After homework group on Tuesday, I told Callum that he was right about my mother. “What about?” he asked.
“When you reckoned she was preparing me for an outing.” I replied, telling him she took me to Ashford on Saturday.
“What was you wearing?” he asked.
“Skirt, blouse, three inch heels.” I listed, exaggerating my heel height a little.
“You're in three inch heels already?” he quizzed.
“Yeah... maybe not quite three inches.” I replied. “But they're high!” I added.
“So you were shopping for a new dress I guess.” he rightly presumed, adding that there's 'loads' of petticoating stores in Ashford. I had a feeling he'd been to them and I was right. “Teen Zone's my favourite but Mummy... I mean, Mum hardly ever lets me get anything from there. She reckons the styles are too grown up and gets most of my stuff from Boys and Girls.” he frowned.
“You mean Niñas y Niños?”
“Yeah... seven year old styles in teenage sizes.” he sighed. I confessed to being bought a party dress from Belle-Boiz. “Is it nice?” he asked.
“Not really... I guess.” I replied. “Apparently...” I changed the subject, slightly. “...all the boys at the high school in Ashford have to wear...”
“Yeah I know.” he interjected. “It was all over the local news a few years ago.”
“Can't imagine going to a school where everyone's petticoated.” I mused.
“They're not petticoated like us though.” he retorted. “They don't have all the girlie stuff or have to go to bed stupidly early.”
“Don't they?” I quizzed. I felt a little disappointed. Callum told me that it's 'educational' petticoating and I recalled my mother saying the same. He explained that it's just the school uniform and a handful of curriculum changes; netball instead of basketball, needlework instead of metalwork, country dancing instead of cross country running... and that they don't have to wear training bras or any of the other stuff either. “Lucky them.” I groaned.
We both knew what he meant by 'other stuff' and I suddenly remembered that I'll have to deal with my washable nappy when I get home. I didn't mention it though. I did however mention that it's my birthday on Saturday and that I was worried that a surprise party might be in store for me. “I've asked but they said no... but my mum made such a fuss over getting me a party dress...”
Callum couldn't really help me since he's only had one petticoated birthday and that was the first day he was petticoated. Despite my intrigue, I chose not to enquire further about his birthday. I did say that it must have been horrible for him. “Yeah... it was.” he sighed. “But I had it coming I guess.” he added.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Not much really... loads of little things; staying out late, shoplifting, got into graffiti.” he shrugged, before asking what I did.
“Nowt.” I shrugged as we approached the school gates. “Mum just thinks it'll do me some good.”
“Yeah they keep saying that.” Callum replied. “Not sure what good it's supposed to do us.” he sneered.
“Hmmm.” I agreed. “Even my gran said that.” We went our separate ways at the school gates and I couldn't help but envy the Ashford boys... all they have to do is wear a girlie school uniform and everything returns to normal as soon as they get home whereas I'll be donning my play clothes and skipping around the garden. However when I did get home, Mummy informed me that since it's hardly been raining at all this summer, she's decided that I should dance along with my ballet today. “Oh but Mummy.” I whined, before instantly apologising after she gave me that look.
My nappy had been soaking all day in the sanitising solution. I wrung it out and put it in the washing machine to rinse, before going up to my room to change. I'd laid out my play clothes before school but in their place are my pale pink dance tights, leotard and tutu... and one of my disposable nappies. My heart sank.
My attire felt totally inappropriate as I removed my nappy from the washing machine and trotted upstairs with it. The broad tutu bounced on every step yet never really flopped. It brushed both sides of my door frame as I entered my room. A descend the stairs with a little more caution. I can't see my feet, even when I try to push my plate shaped skirt down. I'm briefly greeted with my reflection as I pass the hallway mirror, pausing for a moment. In spite of what my mother says, it's not a pretty sight.
Mummy had already put a dining chair in front of the TV for me, and My First Ballet Book was open at the warm up page. I pressed play on the remote and “OK... lets get started!” the DVD presenter enthused. I exhaled deeply through my nostrils as it all came flooding back to me. She told me how to stand; feet slightly apart, arms in 'demi seconde' (my wrists hovering over the edge of my tutu). “...reach up... and down.” she instructed, touching her toes. “...it doesn't matter if you can't reach your toes yet, just do the best you can, and remember to keep your legs straight.”
I could feel my nappy slowly expanding throughout the course of the two video ballet classes and I just knew that my mother would make me keep it on until bath time. I could imagine her excuses; you may as well keep it on, there's no point taking it off, it'd be a waste. However when my dance along DVD lesson had ended, Mummy said I could go and change out of my ballerina outfit and my nappy. I asked what to wear and Mummy said I could wear anything I wanted. I figured that that didn't include my school uniform, so I donned my rusty brown skirt and brown plait shirt. “They're supposed to be for gardening.” Mummy said.
“You did say I could wear anything Mummy.” I defensively whined.
“I did.” she replied with a smile.
On Thursday, Jason asked if it was my birthday this weekend and a reluctantly said yes. “You doing owt?” he asked.
“I hope not.” I replied, reminding him that its on Saturday which means I’d be wearing a dress. “...and I’m not going to invite you round.” I said. “Soz.” I added.
“That's OK.” Jason replied, before telling me that his cousin Peter always wears a really prissy party dress when it's his birthday.
“He'll be used to it though... I'm not.” I grumbled. “Does he have parties?”
“Not really... me and mum go round, and our other cousins Jenny & James and our uncle & aunt.” Jason replied.
“Does he get loads of girlie presents?”
“I'm worried I will too... but I'm only supposed to be petticoated for another week so I'm hoping I won't.” I said.
“There'd be no point.” Jason claimed.
I hope he's right.
On Thursday evening I finally finished my cross stitch sampler and since it was so close to my birthday, my mother said it would be nice if I put that date instead of today’s. I decided against putting a pac-man theme around the border and stuck to space invaders. Mummy wasn't keen on me putting 'take me to your leader' at the bottom, so I put some space invader bunkers instead along with the laser cannon. My mother was a little bemused with the retro video game theme and didn't 'get' the bunkers. She couldn't fathom why one was unfinished and when I explained that the missing bits are where the bunker has been blasted by the invaders' bombs, Mummy reminded me that petticoating is supposed to move me away from such destructive themes. She did let me leave them though. I was as proud as punch with my sampler and couldn't wait to show it to Granny.
On Friday it began to drizzle as I walked home from school. “Oh but I did ballet on Tuesday Mummy.” I whined when she told me to put my tutu on. She hadn't laid my ballerina outfit out. It was all packed up in the big round tutu case and I felt really hard done by having to wear it again so soon... it's not even raining that much. A broad grim swept my mother's face as I passed through the kitchen to the utility room. A moment later I returned with last night's damp yet laundered nappy. “Did you put a nappy on?” my mother asked.
“Yes Mummy.” I meekly replied.
“Good boy.” she said.
I spent forty minutes following the warm up routine and one of several beginners dance routines on the DVD. There's a strong chance that the nanny-cam is watching me from somewhere and I know I can't get away with not trying. I still can't touch my toes but can reach a little further down my shins. It's really hard to see what my feet are doing because my tutu's in the way. Now I know why ballet dancers always practise in front of a huge mirror. The dance routine is boring yet exhausting; It begins with the first position and goes straight to the fourth, then a little skip to the left combined with a gesture, then a jump to the right followed by another gesture and repeat from fourth about twenty times and finally finish in fifth, then back to first. The second part is the same, only with the skip to the right and a jump to the left. My First Ballet Book has some background information on all the routines on the DVD and Mummy said it's important to read about them. Today's little routine is taken from the snowflakes dance in a ballet called The Nutcracker, it says.
“You can go and change if you want.” Mummy said after I'd finished today's active play session. I donned the play clothes I would have worn had it not been raining; box pleated short culottes, white blouse and white knee socks, plus my heeled Mary Jane’s. I spend an hour or so on my homework assignments before going downstairs where Mummy was making supper. She asked if I’d completed my homework.
“Yes Mummy.” I replied.
“Now... seeing as it's your birthday tomorrow, why don't you do your laundry now.” she suggested, adding that it would mean tomorrow would be a chore free day. It made sense to me so I fetched my laundry hamper down and sorted the whites from the darks and coloureds. I knotted the legs of my tights, put my training bras into a mesh wash bag and bunged them in with the rest of my whites.
The washing machine purred into action. I left it, knowing that the white cycle takes around ninety minutes. “What are you doing now?” Mummy asked as I passed through the kitchen, and I replied saying that I'd read my book for a while. “Anne of Green Gables?”
“No I finished that one.” I said, adding that I'm now reading A Little Princess. Mummy asked if I was enjoying it. “It's OK... not much has happened yet though.” I said, adding that Granny had recommended it.
“Can we have a little chat first?”
“Erm... yes.” I replied. I sat at the table and Mummy sat opposite. “I'm not in trouble am I?” I asked.
“Of course not.” she smiled. “Do you remember when I first mentioned petticoating, and I said we'd give it a month long trial to see how you got on?”
“Well... how do you think you've got on?” she asked.
“OK I guess.” I timidly answered. “I've done everything you asked.” I defensively added.
“You have, and more.” Mummy said. “In fact I think you've done so well over that last three weeks that we should carry on as normal after next weekend.” she suggested. “How would you feel about that?”
“You mean...?” I gulped. What's normal? Is that being petticoated or not being petticoated? Mum waited patiently for me to complete my question. “...I carry on being petticoated?” I meekly asked. Mummy nodded. “How long for?”
“Well that depends... normally petticoating continues through adolescence.” tells me, adding that I started 'late' which means I’m already halfway through.
“Erm...” I said, considering the prospect. “I'd rather not be Mummy. I mean... I don't mind my clothes so much, but I hate having to wear nappies for bed.”
“Well you're asleep for most of that time... and you did say your new nappies are much dryer than your disposable ones.”
“I know but... I’d still rather not have wear them at all.” I replied.
“Well I suppose you and every other petticoatee has that in common.”
“Yeah.” I glumly agreed, thinking immediately of Callum and then Jason's cousin.
“From where I'm sitting, I see no reason why we shouldn't carry on.”
“But it's horrible having to wear nappies.” I sulked. “That's one reason.” I said. “And I'd rather wear boys clothes when I get home from school... and I hate doing ballet.”
“Yet there's been no tears, no tantrums... and I've not once had to battle you into a nappy.” she said. “I know you don't like them but you know why you wear them.”
“I know why you think I should wear them Mummy but I know that I don't need them.” I retorted. “I'm fourteen tomorrow.”
“OK then... let's say you don't have to wear a nappy tonight...can you be certain that you won't wet the bed?”
“Yeah.” I cautiously claimed. Mummy asked if I was sure. I gulped. “Noo.” I cautiously admitted.
“So you do know why you need them.” she said. I gulped and nodded. “And as for your clothes, most of them are boy's clothes.” she reckoned, listing my knickers and training bras, my handmade dresses and the party dress I'll be wearing tomorrow. “The only actual girl's clothes you have are the skirt and blouse from the charity shop, your ra-ra skirt and your shoes.”
“There's my tutu too.” I moaned, before trying to stifle a smile.
“A tutu too.” Mummy grinned.
“It's not funny.” I grumbled. I decided not to add 'mummy' for obvious reasons.
“You enjoyed doing your cross-stitch sampler... and we've been enjoying our princess movie nights.” she said. “...and the reports from your teachers at school are all very favourable.” she added, stating that it's too early to tell if my grades have improved but that there's no sign of them slipping. “I'm yet to hear of a petticoated boy who doesn't leave school with straight As.” she told me.
“I'm sure there's boys who are petticoated who do too.”
“Who do too.” Mummy teased. I stuck out my lip. She apologised before stressing that my high school education is a once in a lifetime opportunity, something to take seriously and not to waste. “The problem with adolescence is your mind's all over the place. Petticoating helps you focus.” she claimed.
“I had a feeling you were going to do something like this.” I grumbled. “Callum said your four week trial was just a ploy to get me started.”
“Who's Callum?” Mummy asked.
“A boy in my class.” I glumly replied. It wasn't long before she'd coaxed everything out of me regarding Callum and Jason's cousin Peter. Mum said it was nice that I've got some petticoated friends. “They're not friends.” I claimed. “Callum's just a boy in my class... I don't know him that well.” I said. “And I’ve never even met Jason's cousin.” I added.
I knew I should never have told Mummy about Callum, but it was only a matter of time I guess. I knew he was right about my four week trial... and deep down I suspected that from the beginning. There's no way my mother was spending all that money on my books, bedding, DVDs and dresses just for a few weeks. Mummy told me that she was worried that I'd feel as if I was alone, but knowing that I know one other petticoatee and know of another one makes her feel a lot better. “I'm also impressed that you confided in Jason.” she said. “I've always said that it's nothing to be ashamed of... and you must admit that boy's clothes are a bit boring compared to nice girlie clothes.” she added.
“I like boring clothes.” I grumbled.
“You're just scared of a few frills and bows... if you could step outside yourself you'd be able to see how nice you look.” she said, focusing her gaze on my blouse. I hung my head and looked at my attire. I already know how nice it is... the problem is that it's too nice, especially for a boy. “What does Callum say about his clothes?” she asked.
“He doesn't like them either.” I claimed, adding that when Callum gets home from school, he has to wear the girl's uniform whilst doing his homework. “...and he says he prefers it because it's the only thing he's got that isn't something a seven year old would wear.”
“So he likes some of his clothes then... just like you do.” Mummy retorted.
There she goes, twisting things. She reminded me that I 'like' my Sunday dress, but all I said was that I preferred it to my play dress, and that I 'like' my rara skirt when really I said I liked it's longer length compared to my really short skirts. She reminded me that I'd chosen my own party dress so must have liked that... but I just wanted to get the shopping trip over and done with. “I preferred that sailor dress.” I grumped.
“I know you did... but it wasn't really a party dress was it.” Mummy said.
“Am I going to get loads of girl stuff tomorrow?” I gulped.
“Well you won't be getting much because we don't spoil petticoated boys... so don't expect 'loads' of anything.” she said. “...and your main present is your party dress remember.”
Oh cripes, I thought. I’m going to be asked what I got for my birthday at school next week and I really don't want to say 'a new dress'. I sighed, then huffed, and even puffed. “So... if I’m going to be petticoated for 'ever'... do I still have to call you Mummy all the time?” I asked.
“Rules are rules Gavin.” my mother told me, before adding that it certainly won't be for 'ever'..
“But... I've only been calling you Mummy so you didn't add any extra days.”
“Well the rules are going to remain the same Gavin.” Mummy told me. “...but the consequences of breaking them will change.” she said. “Now we both know that you like your knickers more than you do your nappies... so if you're planning on being disobedient...”
My mother left me to work the rest out for myself. “And what if I don't want to be petticoated?”
“You didn't want to be petticoated from the outset Gavin, and look how far you've come.” my mother replied. “Granny didn't want me to petticoat you either but she's come round to the idea.” she added. “And at the end of the day Gavin you're still a child which means the choice isn't yours to make.” she informed me. “Now... shall we get your pinny on then you can help Mummy with supper?” she asked. I screwed up my face and sighed a disgruntled sigh. “...or are you going to get all sulky?” she quizzed. “Which means you might find yourself spending your birthday wearing your first daytime nappy.” she said.
Save to say I didn't spend my birthday wearing a nappy... but I did wear my party dress and Granny came to visit and she was most impressed with my cross-stitch sampler, which Mummy had got framed so I can hang it above my dressing table. I didn't get many gifts but they were all girlie gifts. I got some nail varnish and a make-up kit, a new pair of shoes with wobbly kitten heels and much to my surprise, the navy blue sailor dress from Belle-Boiz in Ashford. I was sent cards and vouchers by my aunts, uncles and family friends... and all of my birthday cards featured girlie designs.
I also received a Barbie stationery set and a diary with my name printed in glittery pink letters on its fluffy pale pink cover. Mummy points out that it's my very own personalised diary and the first page is today's date; my birthday. I can write down what I did at school, what I did in my active play sessions, what I wore during the daytime and at bedtime and my thoughts for the day. I've never kept a diary before and have never had any interest in doing so, but Mummy tells me that all petticoated boys keep a diary. “This time next year you'll be able to look back all the way to your first petticoat birthday.” she said. The way she said it suggested that today is the first of many petticoat birthdays. Not too many I hope!