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Story Notes:

Halloween Costumes

Costumes

 By Teekabell

© 2012 by Teekabell
Author's Chapter Notes:

Chapter 1: The Decision

Summary: Every kid knows Costumes are for Halloween, and the rest of the year you are not supposed to wear costumes. So what happens when you decide the outfit you wear every day is really just a costume?

Costumes

Chapter 1 of 10

The Decision

~o~O~o~

     None of Daryl's peers or neighbors knew what he dressed up as for Halloween. Over the last five years he had found it quite amusing that no one had found out he dressed as a girl each year.  Daryl looked down at the tights and pink dress he had just taken off.  As he took off the blond curly haired wig and clip on earrings, he contemplated what he was going to do.  Each year it had been getting harder and harder to take his costume off and leave the girl behind for another year. Pulling a box out from under his bed, Daryl proceeded with what he had done every Halloween evening since first dressing as a girl on this special night, putting Princess Stephanie back into the Halloween box so she would not be seen again till next Halloween.

     ‘Nine year old boys do not wear girl clothing on any days but Halloween.' He told himself. 

     Daryl wasn't sure if any other nine year old boys wore girl's clothing on Halloween, but wasn't letting himself think about that.  Opening up the box he looked at the outfits he had worn for the last five years.  The first one, a Disney Princess Aurora costume, was the only one that could be considered an actual costume. It held a special place in his heart with it being the first chance he had ever had to wear a dress. After that, his mom just bought him a tiara and pretty dress at the second hand store.  Daryl actually enjoyed the real dresses more than the costume, but that first costume certainly was special.  In addition to the clothing and shoes, he had collected three tiaras, one princess scepter, and a princess hat.  These were used each year to make the outfits look like he was a princess instead of just a girl wearing a pretty dress. 

     Daryl pulled out the dress he wore last year, a white party dress with red trim.  He knew he hadn't grown a lot since last year and wondered if he would still fit in it.  It didn't take long for Daryl to get the dress on and looking at himself in the mirror.  With his haircut he looked silly in the dress, so he put back on the wig and smiled.  The dress still fit him. 

     He had two dresses he could wear, and he started to giggle before a big frown crossed his face.  He had never worn a dress on any day other than Halloween.  Tomorrow was a school day and he would have to be back in boy clothes.  He would have to go back to pretending he didn't like the girls. He would have to go back to playing ball, and pretending the girls were silly chanting songs as they were jumping rope. He knew all those songs by heart, and wished he could join the girls.

     Twirling in the dress one more time before taking it off, Daryl tried to think of any way he could wear dresses again before next Halloween.  Like last year, he couldn't come up with any possibilities.  He took off his girl panties and put on some Spiderman underwear before he put on his Buzz Lightyear pajamas.  He was ready for bed.  All he had to do was put his costume into his box with the other costumes. 

     ‘Halloween is now over, and Princess Stephanie must be hidden away in the box till next year,' Daryl thought as he slowly put all the items in the box and back under his bed.

     Daryl was in bed hugging his Teddy Bear when Dad came in to say goodnight.  "You got a lot of candy this year little guy.  Did you have fun?"

     "Yeah Dad.  I love Halloween."

     "Anyone see Daryl tonight?" Dad asked with a grin on his face.

     "Not even Mrs. Tellbore," Daryl giggled as Dad's smile faded. "I was worried she would, considering how much she has been babysitting me lately, but she just thought I was a cute little princess."

     "Well that is part of the fun of Halloween, dressing up in a costume and going around with no one realizing it is you."

     Daryl thought about that, and believed Dad had it wrong.  Daryl enjoyed having people see the real him on Halloween and wondered why no one could see Stephanie while he was pretending to be a boy named Daryl. 

     Dad hugged him goodnight and wished him sweet dreams before going back to the living room.  Daryl wondered if Dad would still love him if he was a girl instead of a boy. Shortly into his thoughts believing Dad wouldn't love him as a girl, Daryl was interrupted by his Mom coming in.

     "Princess Stephanie have fun Trick-or-Treating tonight?"

     "Yeah Mommy!  It was so much fun. I wish we had Halloween every day."

      "It wouldn't be special anymore if everyone dressed in costumes every day."

      "Stephanie would enjoy it a lot more," Daryl said and quickly covered himself up with his covers to hide from Mommy.

     "Does Stephanie want to visit more often than just on Halloween?"

     Daryl wanted to scream at the top of his lungs, ‘YES, YES SHE DOES!' but he said nothing.  He was a boy, and boys can only dress as girls on Halloween.  And then, only if no one found out.

     "I bet Stephanie was scared when she went up to Mrs. Tellbore's house."

     Daryl peeked out from under his covers with a big smile. "You wouldn't believe it Mommy.  She called me a cute little princess and said I was wearing a lovely dress. Then she said she had some sweets for a sweet little girl and gave me two pieces of candy. She didn't know it was me."

     "You did look lovely in that dress this year."

     Daryl's smile grew, "Then Mommy, there was that group of girls at the next house.  Two of the girls were Joanne and Gwen from my class. They liked my outfit and they never guessed it was me.  It was fun going to lot of houses with them. I really liked just being one of the girls."

     Daryl was kissed on his forehead and given a hug.  The two of them silently sat there for a while.

     "Mommy, I put Stephanie back in the Halloween box, but I put the panties in the hamper.  Could you put them in the box when you are done cleaning them?"

     "Of course pumpkin."

     The room went silent again with Daryl cuddled into Mommy.   For several minutes all Daryl heard was Mommy's breathing and the noise from the TV in the Living Room. 

     "Go in and go potty dear, and don't forget to brush your teeth.  Then it is time for Teddy to do his job protecting you all night as you sleep."

     Daryl gave Mommy a big hug and kiss before prancing out of the room to the bathroom.

 

~o~O~o~

 

     Daryl woke the next morning feeling stronger than he ever had before.  He climbed out of bed and straightened out his sheets.  Placing his Teddy Bear with its head on his pillow and body tucked under the sheets, Daryl smiled.  He went to the other side of his bed and pulled out the Halloween box, placing it on top of his bed.  Opening the box and looking at the contents, he took a deep breath and got undressed.

     The package of three panties he opened last night had two more in it.  One was quickly out of its package and put on.  Debating between the dress from last night or last year, the one from last year was picked.  A proper girl would not wear the same dress two days in a row.  She quickly got dressed; wig, earings, tights, and shoes.  The tiara was not appropriate clothing for a nine year old to wear to school. 

     Standing in front of the mirror, thoughts were vocalized. "Good Morning Stephanie.  Time for everyone to meet you.  Halloween costumes are only supposed to be worn on Halloween, so you should stop wearing your Daryl costume.  Halloween is over for another year. Daryl should not be seen till next Halloween."

     Standing proud with a determined look on her face, Stephanie took a deep breath and headed to the kitchen for breakfast.

     "Morning Mommy," Stephanie walked into the kitchen and sat down.

     "Morning Pumpkin," Mom said without turning around.  "Did you sleep well?"

     "Yes Mommy," Stephanie poured milk on her cereal.

     Stephanie started eating her breakfast.  When the toast popped, she stopped long enough to say one word, "Strawberry."

     "As you wish dear, Strawberry Jam on your toast," Mom said as she turned to the refrigerator to get the jam out.

     Stephanie was looking at her cereal bowl when she heard a thud.  She turned to see the jar of Strawberry Jam on the floor with the door to the refrigerator still open as Mommy stared at the kitchen table where Stephanie was.

     "Something wrong Mommy?  Is my dress tucked into my tights?" Stephanie felt around her dress to make sure her panties were not showing.  Noticing everything was okay, she turned back to her cereal and kept eating.

     "Umm, Stephanie?" Mom hesitantly asked.  "Why are you dressed like that?"

     "I know most girls don't wear pretty dresses and tights to school unless it is a special day, but I don't have many clothes to choose from. I didn't want to wear the same clothes two days in a row," Stephanie quickly smiled at Mommy before returning to eating breakfast.

     Keeping her eyes on Stephanie, Mom closed the refrigerator and picked up the Strawberry Jam.  After a few moments of looking at her child, Mom looked down at the jam in her hands and slowly turned back to the toast.  She quickly put jam on the toast and brought it over to the table, sitting down with her . . . child.

     "Halloween is over Pumpkin," Mom cautiously said.

     "I know Mommy.  That is why I didn't wear my Daryl costume today."

     "D . . . Daryl costume?"

     Stephanie took a piece of toast and continued eating.

     "People are only used to seeing you in your . . . Daryl costume Pumpkin.  Don't you think they will find it strange with you being Stephanie today?"

     "Costumes should only be worn on Halloween Mommy," Stephanie firmly stated.  "People shouldn't see me in a Daryl costume unless it is Halloween.  Yesterday was Halloween, so today, no costume."

     "Okay Pumpkin," Mom said with hesitation. "No Daryl costume today."

     Mom got up, kissed her child on the forehead, and went into the Living Room.  She called the pediatrician, leaving a message on the doctor's answering machine stating there was a problem with Daryl and to call as soon as possible.  Afterwards, she headed back to her bedroom to talk to her husband.

     Stephanie finished her breakfast and went into the Living Room to watch some cartoons before school.  Turning on the TV she quickly went about flipping channels to find a cartoon to watch. Once she found a show, Stephanie zoned out, replaying her decisions this morning and how Mom responded.

     When Mom and Dad walked into the Living Room, they found Stephanie sitting on the floor watching a My Little Ponies episode.  Usually in the morning at this time, Daryl would watch Pokemon. 

     "Daryl," Dad asked standing behind the couch with his wife? After getting no response from his child he reluctantly asked, "Stephanie?"

     "What Daddy," Stephanie replied without turning away from the TV. 

     Dad closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  Turning to his wife he quietly told her to talk to the doctor and proceed as directed.  He then kissed her and turned back to his child.  Unsure of what to say or do, he started to say something and then stopped himself.  Looking down at his child for a few minutes, he then said, "Be good today."

     "I will Daddy.  I am a good girl," Stephanie said without taking her eyes off the TV.

     The parents looked at each other, communicating a lot without saying a word.  Dad then got his coat and left for work.

     Mom went to the kitchen to clean up from breakfast.  After a few minutes, the phone rang.  Stephanie knew it must be the doctor returning Mommy's call, for no one usually called this early in the morning. Although she wanted to hear what Mommy was going to say to the doctor, Mom went back to the bedroom to answer the phone, so Stephanie had to settle on just watching the TV.  When the show ended, Stephanie was only partially aware of the fact a new show started.  Strawberry Shortcake was in the middle of solving a problem when Mommy came back in the room, sitting down on the couch.  Stephanie just kept her eyes on the TV. 

     No one had yelled.  There was no instruction to go get changed. Daddy had always insisted Stephanie was a costume and could only be seen on Halloween.  No costumes were allowed on other days. 

     "Am I in trouble Mommy?"

     "Come here Pumpkin," Mom said patting the couch next to her. 

     Stephanie turned to look at Mommy, then got up and snuggled in next to her.

     "When Daddy and I put Daryl to bed last night, we didn't expect Stephanie to be the one waking up in the morning."

     "I have to put Stephanie back in the box, don't I?"

     Mommy was silent and just hugged her child.  The two of them watched more of the Strawberry Shortcake episode.

     "Pumpkin, Mommy and Daddy are not sure how to answer that question.  At school when you don't know the answer to a question, you ask for help.  To help us answer that question, we called Dr. Gold."

     "He said I have to go back to pretending to be Daryl, didn't he."

     "No, he also needed help to answer the question. My little nine year old is asking a hard question. Dr. Gold told us to call a nice lady called Dr. Jones and get help from her."

     "I am sorry Mommy.  I will go put Stephanie back in her box and put on my Daryl costume."

     Mom held on tight not letting her child get up, "No, not so fast. Dr. Jones wants to meet you, and she told me your costume is to stay at home when we go to the appointment."

     Stephanie smiled as she looked up at Mommy.

     "So Princess Stephanie, who is going to the doctor's appointment to meet Dr. Jones?"

     "Stephanie," she stated giving Mommy a big hug. 

     They sat watching the end of the Strawberry Shortcake show.  When the credits started, they heard some kids outside talking as they walked by on their way to school. 

     "Well, I guess it is time for me to go to school," Stephanie hopped up and headed to the closet to get her coat. "Have a good day Mommy."

     "Dar . . . Stephanie," Mom said as Stephanie reached the closet. "You're not going to school this morning Pumpkin.  Dr. Jones found time in her busy schedule to see you this morning.  You can play for a little bit before we have to go."

 

~o~O~o~

 

     Dr. Jones was asking a lot of questions, and under Mommy's direction, Stephanie tried to answer every question and answer it honestly.  The questions started with both Mommy and Stephanie, then just Stephanie, and then just Mommy.  At the end, Dr. Jones had Mommy and Stephanie sitting on a couch while she talked. 

     "It has been quite a day for everyone," Dr. Jones said. "And we cannot ignore the decisions that Stephanie made this morning.  We also cannot have Daryl just disappear into a box till next Halloween."

     "But we are only supposed to wear costumes on Halloween," Stephanie stated with resolution. "so why do I have to wear my Daryl costume all the time?"

     Dr. Jones held up her hand stopping Mommy from talking as she formulated a response. "Stephanie, all people know is you in your Daryl costume.  Only your Mommy and Daddy have met Stephanie.  Not even your Grandma and Grandpa Meyers have met Stephanie."

     Dr. Jones paused while Stephanie processed what was said. "Mommy and Daddy have agreed that Stephanie does not have to be hidden away in a box till next Halloween, but you will have to go to school in your Daryl costume."

     Stephanie brought her legs up under her dress and hugged them close to her chest.

     "You can be Stephanie at other times, but at school you have to continue pretending to be Daryl. There will be other times that Mommy and Daddy need you to dress up in your Daryl costume.  They want you to be happy Stephanie.  Most of the time, you are going to be in charge of when you show people Stephanie and when you show them Daryl."

     "I don't want to be Daryl anymore," a small voice said on the verge of tears.

     Mommy cuddled her child.  "Doctor Jones?  Earlier I admitted I have seen this coming for years.  Even when I had a toddler running around the house, I questioned its gender.  Back then each diaper change reminded me I definitely had a son and not a daughter.  He was a bed wetter till he was six, so I changed a lot of diapers over those years, just reinforcing the facts to me.  My child is a boy. When Daryl started asking to dress as a girl for Halloween, it was James that convinced me to let it happen. His little brother had done it once as a toddler, and he had done it once with his Frat Buddies in college.  He figured it was just a phase and if we said ‘no' the forbidden fruit effect would happen. He is such a loving husband, he easily convinced me to let Daryl explore girl things.  He reasoned it wasn't hurting anyone if Stephanie only came out at Halloween."

     Stephanie stayed curled up in a ball being hugged by Mommy as she listened to the adults talk.

     "Mrs. Meyers you gave me many examples of how you saw Stephanie peeking out at times other than Halloween.  Even trips to the department store had you seeing Daryl slow down to examine the dresses as you passed by the girls department or him looking at the girl toys more than the boy toys."

     "I know, but this was supposed to be a phase.  He was supposed to grow out of it.  James figured someone would recognize him when he was dressed as Stephanie and then never again would want to dress up.  No one ever saw Daryl when he was dressed as Stephanie.  The last few times even I have had trouble seeing Daryl when he was being Stephanie on Halloween.  She is so much more animated and alive than Daryl.  I have a different kid on Halloween night."

     "Wouldn't you like to see that child more often?  See your real child, not the one suppressing who they are?"

     The room was silent for several minutes.

     "Mommy," Stephanie broke the silence. "I AM Stephanie. I don't know why other people can't see that. I want to show you who Stephanie really is. If you want me to dress and act like Daryl, I will for you Mommy."

     Dr. Jones smiled at Stephanie and then looked directly at Mrs. Meyers.  "Your child is willing to sacrifice who they are and everything that makes them happy just to make you happy Mrs. Meyers. You earlier agreed to let Stephanie out of the box.  We called your husband and he agreed.  Are you still able to go along with this decision?  Does your child need to sacrifice their happiness just to make you more comfortable?"

     The room was silent again.

     "It will not be easy Mrs. Meyers, especially over the next month.  Your child will be hurt more if you agree to this and then change your mind.  We need to come up with something now, which you and your husband are comfortable enough with that we can advance without putting your child under even more stress."

     "This is all happening so fast though," Mommy looked confused.  "I know I agreed, but . . ."

     Dr. Jones looked straight at Stephanie and told her to go play with the toys in the corner of the office. 

     "Mrs. Meyers, look at your child."

     Stephanie had picked up a baby doll and was feeding it a bottle as she looked over the other girl toys.  The boy and girl toys were right next to each other, but clearly separated.  There was no question about the toys that drew her attention. 

     "Would your child have chosen something different if dressed as Daryl?"

     "Yes, but . . ." Mommy answered with hesitation. "When dressed as Daryl he would have grabbed something like a truck and just moved it back and forth as he looked at all the girl toys."

     Stephanie smiled, she knew Mommy was right.  She thought she was good at hiding her watching of girl toys and girls clothes at the store, but Mommy knew.  Mommy knew!

     "Mrs. Meyers, there is more to gender identity than just the biological make up of an individual."

 

~o~O~o~

 

     After the doctor's appointment the two of them stopped at the local fast food restaurant for lunch.  Stephanie would grab a nugget between trips down the slide.

     "That's a lovely dress your daughter has on," Stephanie heard a stranger say to Mommy during one of her nugget breaks.

     When all the nuggets were gone, and Stephanie had talked Mommy into several more trips down the slide, the two of them headed to the thrift store. Stephanie could hardly contain her excitement as they shopped for some girl clothing.  They bought some dresses, pants, blouses, and sleepwear.  They also found a pair of sneakers and Mary-Jane shoes that fit Stephanie.  After a stop at the Dollar Store, they had some necklaces, bracelets, and hair accessories. A trip to the department store had them picking up some panties, socks, and tights.  Mom also took Stephanie to the toy section to pick out one toy.  Stephanie picked a doll.  Seeing the choice, Mommy allowed a package of doll accessories to enter the cart.

   By the time the two of them got home, Stephanie curled up on the couch cuddling up under a blanket with her dolly, trying not to fall asleep while Mommy took the clothes and put them in the washer. 

     "Mommy," Stephanie asked as Mommy re-entered the living room?  "Will you still love me if I stay as Stephanie?"

     Immediately Mrs. Meyers went over and brought her child up onto her lap.  "I will always love you my little pumpkin, whether you are Stephanie, Daryl, or a blue creature named Cookie Monster."

     "Mommy!" Stephanie giggled.

     "What, I have seen the way you go through a plate of cookies."

     They both giggled.

     "You are my child pumpkin, and I will love you no matter what your choice is.  Getting used to seeing Stephanie more often than Halloween will be difficult, but it will never stop me from loving you."

     "Daddy won't love me anymore though, will he?"

     "Oh never think like that pumpkin.  Daddy loves you very much.  He was the one who let you wear the Princess Aurora costume that first year, and he said he would support whatever Dr. Jones decided.  He wants you to be happy.  If that means taking you to ballet instead of football, then he will be happy taking you to ballet."

     "I can take ballet?  Really?" Stephanie's eyes were wide and her smile was huge.

     "Maybe pumpkin.  It is too late to get signed up for it this Fall, but if you want we can talk about it after Christmas."

     Stephanie cuddled into Mommy while she hugged her dolly tight.

     "Have you come up with a name for your Dolly yet?"

     "Melanie!"

     "That is a very pretty name for a Dolly.  I am sure you and Melanie will have fun together."

     After several more minutes of silence, Stephanie looked up at Mommy, "What was your dolly's name when you were my age?"

     "I had several, but my favorite at your age was named Susan." The two of them spent time talking about Mommy's childhood and the things she liked and did when she was nine years old.

     As the afternoon continued, Stephanie, with Melanie, helped Mommy do things throughout the house. When the clothes were clean, they went to Daryl's room and turned it into a Daryl/Stephanie room.  The closet was split in half with Daryl's clothes on one side and Stephanie's clothes on the other side.  The same was done with the dresser. 

     The toys in the room became an issue between Stephanie and Mommy.  Stephanie wanted all of Daryl's toys out of the room, but Mommy said they should stay. 

     "Fine," Stephanie said in a huff. "They can stay in the room but I don't want to see them."

     Stephanie went around the room collecting all the ‘boy' toys and tossing them under the bed.  What didn't fit under the bed was put on the Daryl side of the closet and covered with a blanket.

     "There, happy," Stephanie asked sitting back down on the bed?  "The yucky Daryl toys are all still in the room."

     "Daryl!"

     "I AM NOT DARYL.  I AM STEPHANIE!"

     "You are . . . I just . . . Stephanie, you might want to be Daryl and play with the toys."

     "I have to be Daryl for school.  Unless you and Daddy tell me I have to, Daryl's yucky boy toys will NOT be played with after school."

     Mrs. Meyers took a deep breath and left the room, leaving her child behind.

     "Melanie, she doesn't understand. It's no fun being Daryl." Stephanie said to her dolly while rocking her.  "Teddy can tell you some of what I had to deal with.  I don't want you to worry though, it is time for the world to meet Stephanie, and I am going to make sure the scary Daryl costume stays away as much as possible."

     Stephanie turned to her pillow where her Teddy Bear was still tucked in.  "Teddy, this is Melanie.  Be nice to her.  She is new here and not used to seeing all these boy things in her bedroom.  You need to protect her each night, just like you protect me."

     After a moment of introductions and hugs, Teddy was tucked back in to get enough rest before nighttime duty. Stephanie then brought Melanie around the room to show her around.  Since most everything except for the furniture and clothes were under the bed, it was a quick tour.  It ended with Stephanie getting the Halloween box out to show Melanie the previous outfits.

     "You know Melanie, these don't have to stay under the bed anymore," Stephanie started finding places for the various items in the box. The top of the dresser got the tiaras and princess hat. 

     With the Princess Scepter in hand, Stephanie placed Melanie on the bed next to Teddy Bear.

     "Princess Melanie," Stephanie said tapping Melanie on the head. "May your perfect Prince save you from a mean witch and you never have to be tortured by being forced to dress up like a boy."

       After a quick trip to the living room to get the doll accessories, Stephanie sat down on her bed getting to play with a doll like she had dreamed about for years.

 

~o~O~o~

 

     While Stephanie was lying on her bed, looking under it for some of the stuffed animals she wanted to introduce Melanie to, the doorbell rang.

     "Don't worry Melanie. That is only the doorbell, nothing to be afraid of. No, it can't be any of my friends, I don't really have any.  The girls would not play with a boy named Daryl and the boys said I was too much of a wimpy sissy to play with. Yeah that was mean of them, but I am okay with it.  I never wanted to play with the boys anyways.  They were right though, I am a wimp.  What Melanie?  No, I don't know who is at the door.  We will stay back here.  Mommy is mad at me and I don't want to get her more mad by showing someone Stephanie she doesn't want seeing Stephanie."

       "Listen Sis," Stephanie and Melanie heard a raised voice coming from the living room.  "I left work early and rushed over here to see my new niece.   I want to see her and I am going to spoil her."

     "Aunt Jennifer!" Stephanie exclaimed with excitement.

     "Sis, I know you.  You are tolerating this but expecting a decision to turn back into Daryl at any moment.  You said you bought her clothes, but even though you have the money to buy her a whole new wardrobe from the fancy shops, I bet you went to the Thrift Shop because you didn't want to spend money on a fad.  Did you even get her any accessories or toys."

     "Yes Melanie, Aunt Jennifer's mad at Mommy."

     "What, you didn't take her to Claire's to get the accessories?  You got them at the Dollar Store?  You have a nine year old little girl in there, not a preschooler.  She needs some quality stuff to wear in front of the other girls.  She is going to have a hard enough time being accepted by them without looking like a preschooler."

      Stephanie quizzically looked at Melanie and asked, "Were those things we picked up at the Dollar Store really only things Preschoolers would wear?"

     "Sis, get over it.  Embrace Stephanie while she is here.  You now have her in regular therapy sessions, so let the doctor decide if this is just a fad or something more permanent.  You and James will go to therapy to help deal with your issues. This is NOT a problem with your child, it is a problem you are having.  You and I have talked for years about the feminine traits you have seen in Daryl as he grew up, so why are you having so much trouble now accepting Stephanie?"

     Stephanie trying to understand asked Melanie, "What are feminine twaits?"

     "NO, I am not going to hold off giving my new niece these things.  I have nine years of birthdays to catch up on and this is just the start. For now, I am going to go see this niece of mine that you have hidden from me.  Five years of Stephanie at Halloween and I never even got a picture."

     Moments later Aunt Jennifer was walking into Stephanie's room with a few bags in her hands.

     "Oh Stephanie, you look so cute."

     Blushing, "Thanks Aunt Jennifer. Watcha doing here?"

     "Your Mom called to tell me I had a pretty new niece, and I rushed over to see her."

     "Oh," Stephanie lowered her face so Aunt Jennifer could no longer see it.  "Well here she is, her name is Melanie."

     "My oh my.  So nice to meet you Melanie," Aunt Jennifer said taking the doll and holding her like a baby.  "You look a lot younger than I thought my niece was, but you definitely are very pretty."

     "Tank-oooo" Stephanie said in a baby voice through a giggle.

     "Well Melanie I came over to welcome you to the family and give you some welcome gifts."

     "Gifts?" Stephanie asked looking straight at Aunt Jennifer. "I mean, . . . Giff-th Aunth Ennifa?"

     Aunt Jennifer started tickling Stephanie, "Yes gifts, you silly little girl.  I figured you were new to the area and needed some girl things to get you by till your Mommy could get you some stuff."

     "Mommy got me some stuff today."

     "Your mom told me, but I got you some other stuff.  After talking with your mom, I have also decided that this weekend the two of us are going out for a girl's day out, shopping for some more stuff."

    Stephanie's eyes went wide with a huge smile on her face.

     "That is if you want to do a girl's day out shopping?"

      "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, Aunt Jennifer," Stephanie pounced onto Aunt Jennifer with a big hug.

     "Hi Stephanie," Aunt Jennifer said in a much subdued tone, holding Stephanie out at arm's length.  "I am your Aunt Jennifer. My job as your Aunt is to spoil you rotten.  Since you have been hiding behind a Daryl costume, I figured you would need some things every girl your age already has."

     Out of the bag came several Disney Princess movies, Tinkerbell movies, some American Girl movies, Hannah Montana movies, and two My Little Pony DVDs.  Then Aunt Jennifer pulled out a toy horse, Hello Kitty alarm clock, and a bracelet making kit.  The next bag was big and Aunt Jane just turned it upside down over the bed, dumping it out.  A package of pink sheets with small red hearts on it was quickly covered up by a pink and white bedspread.  

     "Now Stephanie, I was in a rush to get over here so I didn't have time to hunt out some really good things, but I thought these would be a good start."

     "Aunt Jennifer, these are great.  I love them. Thank You, Thank You."

     "There is one more bag of stuff, princess."

     Aunt Jennifer pulled out a Barbie, her younger sister Chelsea, and some clothes for the two dolls.  When she got to the bottom of the bag there was a pink iPod nano. They spent the next half hour loading it with various songs from Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, various Disney artists/songs, and one song from an artist called Fred Small.

     "Now Stephanie, this song from Fred Small is a special one.  It is called Everything Possible (click title to hear song). It has a special message for children trying to grow up in the world today.  No matter what struggles you face on the path you have chosen, I want you to know that I love you and will always be here for you.  No matter how hard things get, you can always turn to me for help.  I love you Stephanie.  Never forget that people love you sweetie. It is who you are inside that matters sweetie.  Stephanie, Daryl, it doesn't matter what you are wearing on the outside.  It just matters who you are on the inside."

     Aunt Jennifer kissed Stephanie on the forehead, set the iPod to play the Fred Small song and left.

 

~o~O~o~

 

     Stephanie was playing with the Barbie doll and the horse when Dad came in.

     "Hi Daryl.  It was quite a day wasn't it," Dad asked as he sat down on the floor next to Stephanie?

     "Daddy," Stephanie asked looking at him with a sad face. "Look around the room and tell me if you think this is Daryl's room or Stephanie's room."

     James looked around the room.  Princess Tiara's on the dresser. Hair bands, necklasses, and bacelets were scattered on the desk. The closet had clothes with a lot of pink and frills. There was a Hello Kitty alarm clock next to the bed which now had pink sheets and a frilly girl bedspread. On the bed next to the Teddy Bear, was a baby doll in a yellow dress.  The shelves had girl DVDs, a Princess wand, and toy doll accessories. Scattered around the little girl in a party dress was Barbie dolls, a horse, and changes of clothes for the Barbie.  Nowhere did James find the sports equipment, Legos, Pokemon, or toy trucks.  Gone were the Buzz Lightyear figures, spaceship, and alien creatures.  There was not one dinosaur anywhere to be seen. 

     "This is definitely Stephanie's bedroom," Dad admitted.

     "Daryl is under the bed, hidden away Daddy, just like you forced Stephanie to hide away under the bed.  I AM STEPHANIE.  This is my room.  When you or Mommy force me to dress up in my Daryl costume, I will.  The costume will come off as soon as I can take it off.  You told me every year costumes are only to be worn on Halloween.  Since Daryl is a costume, I don't know why you are making me wear it when it isn't Halloween.  Dr. Jones said you and Mommy wanted me to wear the Daryl costume to school every day, so I will.  I will not like it.  You can't make me like it, but I will wear it," tears started coming down Stephanie's face.  "This is my room.  No yucky boy named Daryl here.  I AM STEPHANIE."

     Stephanie dropped the horse and Barbie doll as tears freely flowed down her face.  She went over to her bed and plopped down face first onto the pillow, hugging Teddy and Melanie.

     "Daryl . . . Stephanie . . . I . . ." Daddy came up and kissed Stephanie's head. "I love you."

     Dad turned and walked out of the room.

     Dinner that night was a silent affair. Stephanie found herself afterwards playing alone in her room with her new toys. At bed time she dressed in her new Tinkerbell pajamas, only complaining when Mommy made her take the wig off.

     "Can I let my hair grow Mommy?"

     "Yes pumpkin, but not too long.  You would look silly dressed as Daryl with long girl hair."

     "Don't you think I look silly being myself with yucky boy hair?"

     Mommy kissed Stephanie on her forehead and headed for the door.  With her hand on the light switch, "It will take a long time for your hair to grow out pumpkin.  We will talk about it again when your hair starts getting into your eyes."

     Tears started to slowly fall after laying in the dark for several minutes.

     "I . . . I . . . I don't understand Melanie and Teddy.  Mommy told Dr. Jones she saw me, the real me, even when I was dressed as Daryl, so why does she want me to look, act, and dress like Daryl?"



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