I'd been invited to my cousins birthday party and as usual, my mum insisted I be on my best behaviour. Being a nine year old boy I said I would be, but in reality I took every opportunity to act the fool, tease the girls and play fight with the boys regardless of whether they wanted to or not. I'd gone too far and made a few of the other children cry by flicking cake and jelly at them using a plastic spoon. Mum grabbed my arm and smacked me as hard as she could on the back of my legs, however, this did little to calm my boisterous mood. Mum went to hit me again but Aunt Susan intervened saying, “Hitting a child will only make them worse, I'll show you how it's done.”
“Please do!” Replied Mum, “I'm at the end of my tether with him I really am!” She added as Aunt Susan grabbed my arm and led me up the stairs, followed by my mother.
“What are you doing?” I shouted as I tried to struggle free.
“We're going to calm you down, then you can rejoin the party.” Aunt Susan replied as she opened the spare bedroom door and led me inside. “If you don't calm down, you don't rejoin the party, do you understand?”
I was a little afraid of her at this point, mainly because she was so calm, I nodded.
“Good.” She said. “Now, take your clothes off... all of them!” She insisted.
I blushed and refused.
“Well, if you don't take your clothes off your mother and I will, so what's it going to be?” She asked.
“But why do I have to?” I asked.
“Because you're getting too boisterous and you're upsetting the other children, plus... you've got bit's of cake and jelly on your trousers and jumper so you need some clean clothes on.” Aunt Susan explained, as calm as ever. “You are at a party after all and it's important that you look nice and clean.”
“Oh he's always messy!” Added Mum, “Maybe we should just leave and I'll give him the hiding of a lifetime when we get home.” She suggested.
“No.” Replied Aunt Susan. “There'll be no more smacking, just trust me OK?” she turned back to me and said, “So, are you going to get undressed or are we going to have to do it for you?”
I thought for a moment, before saying, “But I've got nothing to change into.”
“Well I'll find you something.” She replied, “Plus, the sooner you get changed the sooner you can go back to the party and have some fun, OK?”
I conceded and removed my jumper.
“T-shirt & Trousers as well.” Aunt Susan insisted.
I shyly did as asked until I sat in only my underpants and socks.
“And your pants and socks.” She said. “I haven't got all day.” All the time mum stood silently by the closed door.
“But why?” I moaned, “They haven't got food on them.”
“Because I said so young man.” Aunt Susan replied. “Now, pants and socks!”
Nervously I removed my socks, followed by my underpants and sat naked on the edge of the bed, hiding my bits with my hands. Aunt Susan turned to my Mother and said. “Right, we're almost done. Shall we go and find him some clean clothes to wear?”
Mum gave me a disapproving look as I sat naked on the bed, before exiting the spare room with my aunt and leaving me alone for a moment.
Before long mum returned and said, “Right Peter, as soon as you're dressed you can go back to the party and play pass the parcel with the other children OK?”
I nodded but barely looked up at her, instead staying focussed on my feet and the floorboards around them.
“Good, now let's get you dressed.” Replied Mum. “Knickers & vest first.”
“I'm not wearing them!” I protested as I looked up to see the pair of frilly knickers which Mum was passing to me, “They're girls!”
“Yes they are.” Replied Mum dryly, “And yes, YOU are!” She said as she knelt down and began to slide them up my legs. “Now... nobody is going to see them Peter so nobody will know that you're wearing girls knickers, unless of course you start acting the fool again.” She looked straight at me. “At which point I’ll pull them down in front of everyone and smack your bottom! Do you understand?” She asked.
Sulking the biggest sulk I'd ever sulked, I nodded.
“Good.” She replied. “Now arms up.” She instructed, before slipping the girls vest onto my arms and pulling it down over my body. “Very pretty.” She said, smiling.
“Is he ready yet?” I heard Aunt Susan call from the hall way.
“Yes.” Replied Mum, turning towards the door.
Aunt Susan entered holding a coat hanger upon which hung a girls dress, “I'm sure this one will fit him.” She said as she entered. “Fortunately for you Peter it's blue, so it's perfect for a boy!”
“I cant wear that!” I pleaded, almost in tears. “Everybody will make fun of me.”
“No they won't.” Replied Aunt Susan, passing my mother the hanger and saying, “I'll go and have a word with the other children so they wont tease him...” She paused before turning her attention back to me. “Although I don't see why I should seeing as you've been teasing them all day.” She said sternly, before, placing a pair of girls shoes and some white socks next to me on the bed, then closing the door behind her and leaving me and mum alone.
Mum removed the dress from the hanger and laid it on the bed next to me and began unfastening the buttons. “I'm sure you'll be far less interested in being the centre of attention now.” She said as she held it up for me. “Although wearing such a pretty dress, you're sure to be the centre of attention!” Mum added with glee. “Now stand up and turn around please.”
“But please mum.” I pleaded, “I promise I'll be good. Please don't make me wear a dress!”
Mum sighed a long audible sigh before saying, “Well, you can go back to the party in your frilly knickers and lacy vest if you like, or you can wear this dress over them... it's up to you.”
I began to cry.
“Oh look..” Said mum unsympathetically, “...He's crying just like a little girl.... Now, do you want to wear the dress or do you want to go downstairs in your knickers?” She asked.
Snivelling I replied, “The dress.”
“Please!” Instructed Mum.
“Please.” I murmured.
“Good.” Replied mum. “Now stand up and turn around so I can fasten you in to it.”
I did as I was told.
“Arms up.” She said, before slipping the dress over my head and pulling it down over my body. She then began fastening up the long row of buttons which went all the way up its back.
I looked down at the blue satin dress with its ribbons and frills as mum fastened me into it. I realised just how stupid I must look. I began to cry again.
“What's wrong now?” Asked mum impatiently.
“I look stupid.”
“No you don't, you look very pretty.” She replied as she fastened the final button behind my neck. She turned me around to face her and tied two of the ribbons into a bow beneath the white lace edged collar. “Perfect.” She said. “Now you sit down and I'll put your shoes and socks on.”
I sat on the edge of the bed as mum rolled a white knee length pop sock onto each foot, before fastening the black Mary Jane's onto my feet. “Now that's much better!” She said as she knelt in front of me and looked me straight in the eye, “Right, if you act out of line even once, I'll smack your bottom in front of everybody and they'll all see your knickers. Do you understand?”
“Good, now wipe your eyes because you don't want them knowing you've been crying like girl do you?”
I shook my head, before taking the tissue from my mum and wiped the tears from my eyes.
“Good.” She said, before leading me down the stairs and back to the party.
Everybody began giggling as I entered. Aunt Susan shushed them all with icy authority “Remember girls and boys what I said would happen if you laughed at Peter!” She reminded them all.
Shyly and silently I took my place at the table and, trying my best not to draw attention to myself, ate quietly whilst the other children laughed and giggled amongst themselves. Afterwards we played pass the parcel, musical statues, pin the tail on the donkey and finally musical chairs. All the while I remained quiet and played along nicely. As I say, the last thing I want is any attention drawing to myself. I heard Mum say to Aunt Susan how well her idea worked and how nice it was seeing me playing nicely instead of my usual boisterous way. After what seemed an age, the guests, one by one, began to leave.
“Right young man... You'd better get changed and give cousin Jenny her dress back, then we can go home.” She said, still annoyed with my behaviour earlier. “And make sure you say thank you to Aunt Susan and Jenny.”
“Yes.” I shyly nodded, eager to get my own clothes back.
Mum grabbed my hand, which she never did usually, and led me to the dining room where Aunt Susan, cousin Jenny, and the remaining guests were. “Peter would like to say sorry for his behaviour earlier, wouldn't you Peter?” She stated, drawing everybody's attention to me. I stood there trembling in my pretty blue dress, pop socks and shiny black Mary Jane's.
Nervously I stammered an apology, before mum forced me to say thank you to Jenny for lending me her pretty dress to wear. Once mum had humiliated me enough, she said, “Well we'd better get this one changed so Jenny can have her dress back... then we'll be off.”
“At last.” I thought, “I'm finally going to get out of this thing!” Mum turned me around and led me upstairs. Aunt Susan followed us out and caught us halfway up the stairs, in hushed tones she said to Mum, “I didn't want to say in front of the others...” She glanced at me, “But I think it's a good idea if you keep hold of the dress..” They both glanced at me. I stood silent, clasping my hands. Aunt Susan continued, “...if it's hanging in his wardrobe it'll be a good reminder of what the consequences of his boisterous behaviour are, don't you think?”
Mum turned to me again, pulled a concerned expression and said, “hmm... Well, it is a very pretty dress and I'm sure it wasn't cheap Susan...”
“Oh don't worry about that!” Aunt Susan interrupted. “it's too small for Jenny anyway” she glanced from the dress to the shoes I wore. “And those shoes are old ones too.” she added.
Mum turned back to her sister, “Oh well in that case, thank you.” She smiled, “I'm sure they'll come in handy knowing this one!” before turning back to me and prompting me to say thank you too.
Revelations of this dress sitting in my wardrobe flooded through my mind. All I wanted was to get out of the damn thing once and for all and now we're bringing it home! Mum said my name sternly. I jerked back in to reality, “Peter!” she repeated, “Say thank you to aunt Susan for letting you keep Jenny's dress!” She insisted.
“Thank you aunt Jenny.” I obediently stammered, before edging towards the bedroom where I got changed all those hours before.
“And where are you going?” Asked mum sharply.
“T.. t.. to get changed...” I muttered.
“Well there's no need now is there? You wait at the bottom of the stairs and I'll get your things.” She instructed. I hesitated, obviously wanting to change first. “Now!” Mum barked. “you may as well wear it until bed time, seeing as you look nice for a change!”
I sulked my way down the stairs and waited at the door. Mum and Aunt Jenny spent a few moments bagging my own clothes, before they reappeared on the landing. “Thanks again Susan.” Said mum as she made her way down the stairs. “You've worked wonders today.” She added with a smile.
“Anything is better than smacking a child!” Aunt Susan replied. “Now you are going to be a good boy from now on aren't you Peter?”
“Good.” She said. “I think we've proved today that you can be a very polite and well mannered child, let's try to make sure such good behaviour is possible when you're not wearing a pretty dress shall we?”
“Yes Auntie.” I shyly replied.
I felt so self conscious as we left the house and headed for the car. The wind whipped up my dress and I feared it would blow up! Mum sat me on the back seat and fastened my seatbelt, before straightening my dress over my lap. “It's very nice of Aunt Susan giving you this isn't it?”
I didn't reply. On the journey home I just looked out of the window, but my stare kept shifting to my knees poking out beneath the dress... MY dress! As soon as we arrived home I asked mum if I could get changed, to which she flatly refused. “No Dear, You can watch TV until bath time, then you can get ready for bed.”
“No buts! Or you'll be going to school wearing your new dress if you're not careful young man!” she snapped. “Do you understand?”
“Yes.” I sulked, not wanting to be seen wearing a girls dress at any cost!
“Good.” Mum replied.
I sulked in silence as bath time approached. Before long, mum ushered me to my room and helped me out of the dress. “Now be careful taking your pop socks off, they're very delicate.” she advised as I sat on the edge of my bed in the lacy white vest and knickers I'd wore all day. Mum hung the dress in my wardrobe and made several comments about how nice it was seeing me a; behave myself and b; look so pretty. She ran me a bath. On her return she placed a folded item of clothing on my bed... a folded PINK item I may add!
“What's that?” I asked, or protested to be more precise.
“Auntie Susan very kindly gave you a pair of Jenny's old jim jams too.”
“What!” I protested. “I'm not wearing girl's pyjamas!”
“Oh yes you are young man!” Mum snapped, “If aunt Susan is kind enough to give them to you, then you should be polite enough to be thankful and wear them! And remember, from now on, any back chat from you and I'll send you to school in your new dress. Do you understand?”
Sulking, I nodded.
“Good, now put your knickers and vest into the laundry and get in the bath.” She instructed. “I want you in these jim jams and downstairs in 15 minutes!”
After my bath I returned to my bedroom to find, now neatly laid out on my bed rather than folded, the pyjamas aunt Susan had also given me. “Why me?” I moaned as I pulled the top on. It was baby pink with little puffed sleeves and lace edging. It had flower shaped buttons up the front and a little ruffled collar. The bottoms were shorts rather than pants like my own pyjamas. They had an elasticated waist, a little bow at the front and lace edges around the legs. Not wanting to risk being sent to school in a dress, I reluctantly went downstairs as instructed.
I quickly entered the sitting room, sat down on the sofa and pulled a cushion over me to hide behind. “Let's have a look at your new jim jams!” Mum insisted.
“They're horrible!” I replied, not moving from behind the cushion.
“Peter.” She said sternly.
“Do I have to?”
“Yes you do, now stand up and let me see!”
As instructed, I removed the cushion and stood up.
“Oh very pretty!” Mum gushed. “turn around.” She insisted. “Oh very nice, aren't you lucky?”
“don't you like them?”
“No! They're silly.” I Snapped.
“Why are they silly?” Mum asked. “They're lovely.” She insisted.
“They're for girls!”
“Well those are for you Peter...” Mum snapped back. “...so you'd better get used to them.”
Defeated, I chose not to respond. I just stood there in my short pink pyjamas, as if awaiting further instruction.
Mum looked me up and down again before saying. “Well you'd better run along to bed. And do not change into your old pyjamas or I'll be cross!” She instructed.
I hung my head. The thought had crossed my mind.
“Do you understand?”
“Yes.” I replied.
“Good, now run along.”
Before I turned my light out I noticed the girls shoes I'd worn today on my shoe rack next to my school shoes. They were horrid, and hard to walk in I reminisced. I was glad today was over I thought as I turned out my light. I thumbed the lace edging of my pyjama shorts as I drifted off to sleep.