This Is Us
The Boy Who Didn’t Care That I Was a Girl
Shortly after I started kindergarten, my family and I were sitting around the table in the dining room having dinner when the phone rang. My father got up and answered it. He looked, at first, confused, and then perturbed. “Well, we are in the middle of dinner right now, but I will have her call you back. Okay. Bye.”
My mother, being the only “her” in the household besides me, and the only adult in the household besides my father, naturally assumed the phone call was for her. When my father returned to the table, she asked who it was. “We need to talk. It wasn’t for you.” He then turned to me. “Who is Lee and why is he calling you?”
I sensed trouble but wasn’t exactly sure what the cause of it was, so I proceeded with caution in my answering. Lee was my friend, and I couldn’t be sure why he was calling me, but probably to talk?
“You gave him our phone number?”
You know it’s trouble for sure when your parents start asking you questions you know they already know the answers to, but I took comfort in the fact that my mother seemed to be holding back laughter on the other side of the table.
“Yes? Was I not supposed to?”
“And Lee is a little boy.”
“Yes. He’s in my class.”
“And he’s your friend.”
“You don’t have little boy friends and you don’t need to be giving boys your phone number.”
I was crushed by this. I had been having a difficult time adjusting to attending school. I had taken like a fish to water to the studying parts, but I was struggling socially. I felt like I had been faced with an overwhelming number of strangers and, as I was painfully shy, I couldn’t figure out how to break in. Everyone else seemed to just find their people, and I didn’t know how to do that. But Lee had come right up to me and made everything feel easy.
Eventually, I think thanks to conversations with my mother that happened out of my earshot, my father relented, and I was allowed to stay friends with Lee. We even ended up carpooling to school, since it turned out he lived just a few blocks over. Lee eventually moved away, and I made other friends…