Whatís a mother to do?
††††††††††† Itís Poppaís fault.
††††††††††† He insisted we have Danny when I didnít want him.
††††††††††† Three kids is enough, I said, not counting the two miscarriages and that ugly thing I had when I was young and donít want to talk about.
††††††††††† Three kids and theyíre all growing up to be spoiled brats.
††††††††††† Maybe I should have told him no.
††††††††††† All his drinking couldnít have helped Ė though to this day he says booze donít make kids turn out that way.
††††††††††† Like any of us really know.
††††††††††† But I went and did it anyway.
††††††††††† I got caught up in all that romantic stuff about how it would be nice to have a small one in the house again; how it pulled people together.
††††††††††† And if any family needed something to pull it together ours did.
††††††††††† With one doing everything possible to go to jail and one paying regular visits to the local ill repute. The only one that seemed to come out reasonably normal was Big Dave, and heís so much like his father, thatís another reason to worry. I kept waiting for when the drinking to start and to hear his wife downstairs whimpering from the beatings.
††††††††††† Then I started thinking that if I worked real hard I might make this kid turn out better than the rest. After three mistakes, I must have learned something.
††††††††††† And I did try.
††††††††††† I did what all the doctors told me to do with vitamins and exercises and training for the delivery.
††††††††††† So that when the baby came out, at least he started out healthy.
††††††††††† And I loved that small pink squiggling being as much as I loved anything in my life.
††††††††††† Yet even as I looked down at him, I knew something was wrong.
††††††††††† Maybe the feeling came from the way he looked at me or how he took after frilling things while his brothers ranted and raved about sports.
††††††††††† I wasnít sure of anything, mind you. But I watched and I saw this odd shape grow inside of him, as if he had a second nose that started out as a pimple Ė though it wasnít so obvious as that. I couldnít point to anything in particular and say: ďThere! Thatís the thing.Ē
††††††††††† No one else in the family seemed to notice it. At least, none of them ever said anything to me if they did.
††††††††††† Then Danny grew.
††††††††††† Never as healthy as I hoped; and not so big as his brothers.
††††††††††† In fact, the more he grew the more he resembled his sister, Debby.
††††††††††† And had it not been for the bit of mistletoe between his legs, I would have thought Debby got a little sister, not a little brother.
††††††††††† When I caught him at it in the attic, I knew for sure.
††††††††††† I heard the sound of boxes being opened and climbed the narrow flight of stairs very softly and threw open the door at the top to find him half dressed in Debbyís old clothing.
††††††††††† While I had saved the clothing in case Danny had turned out to be a girl, I hadnít ever figured on him actually wearing any of them.
††††††††††† He didnít flinch when I caught him. He just looked at me, grinned and asked if he looked good.
††††††††††† At ten years old, he looked more of a woman than I did. As if the clothing had waited for him to come along so they could fill out that something missing in him.
††††††††††† I was stunned. And I didnít know what to do.
††††††††††† I didnít think I could beat him enough to shake this something that had come with him in birth.
††††††††††† I didnít even know what it was I was actually dealing with: sin or disease or something else.
††††††††††† Of course, I told him to get back in his own clothing.
††††††††††† But I didnít stop him when he did it again or suddenly discovered makeup.
††††††††††† I didnít even stop him later when he and his sister dressed up and went out, pretending like they were twin sisters.
††††††††††† I just sulked at home waiting for them to come home, knowing at least one of them wouldnít be coming home pregnant, no matter what perverted things he did.