A Gender-Fluid Household

, , , , , | Related | July 13, 2019

(These stories are from over 15 years ago. My biological dad ran out on me and my mum when I was a baby, so since infancy, I lived with my mum, my aunt, and my grandmother in varying combinations. No dudes around, which meant that as an 11-year-old male, I have picked up some slightly strange habits. Mum has been dating this guy for about two years and I love him, and he loves me. She decides it’s time for us to move in with him. On the second night in our new place, I go and shower and come out wrapped in my towel as always.) 

Stepdad: *sitting on the couch reading, looks up at me and snorts* “Mate… what are you doing?”

Me: “Showering?”

Stepdad: “Well, yeah, but… Okay, so you don’t have boobs to hide, right?”

Me: *indignant* “No!”

Stepdad: “Right. Well, you can wrap the towel just around your waist, then. You’ve also only got short hair, so you don’t need to wrap it up like that…”

(Yep, I’ve been wearing the towel wrapped around me up under my arms and wrapping up my hair turban style. It never occurred to me why my female relatives did that and it had honestly never occurred to Mum to correct me. She laughs and apologizes after [Stepdad] tells her I am lucky I’ve never showered at school or I’d be a laughing stock. This must pique his interest into other things I might have picked up because for the next couple weeks interactions like this are pretty normal. I’m washing my face before bed as always, when my stepdad wanders into the bathroom.)

Stepdad: *snorts again* “Mate. Use the soap, or just water.”

Me: *indignant* “Mum uses this!”

Stepdad: *very gently* “I know, bud, but that’s makeup remover.”

(A few mornings later, I’m getting ready for school. As always, Mum has already left for work, but my stepdad works from home. Again, he walks past the bathroom as I’m doing my morning stuff. He does a double-take and I can see he’s trying to formulate a nice way to bring something up.)

Stepdad: “Uh… Uh, hey, bud?”

Me: “Yeah?”

Stepdad: “Look. If you want to wear it, I’ll back you completely but… you do know that’s mascara, right?”

Me: “Yeah, so?”

Stepdad: “Well, nothing, mate. Just… most blokes don’t wear it because it’s makeup.”

Me: “WHAT?!”

Stepdad: *giggling* “Well, at least you were taking it off at night!”

(I didn’t know it was makeup. I thought everyone wore it; it was the only makeup my mother wore except lipstick for a fancy night out or something, and I knew THAT was makeup but assumed everyone wore mascara. Another night:)

Stepdad: “Mate, did you use my razor?”

Me: “Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t find Mum’s.”

Stepdad: “No worries, mate. Didn’t realise you shaved already! I didn’t have to shave until I was fifteen. We’ll get you your own.”

Me: *excited* “Thank you! Can we get the pale blue ones Mum uses? Yours was really sharp; I cut myself a few times.”

Stepdad: *looking at my face* “Are you using it against the grain, bud? I can’t see any cuts…”

(I roll up my pant leg to show him a couple of cuts on my ankle.)

Me: “Nah, just these ones, and one on my underarm. What’s ‘against the grain’ mean?”

Stepdad: *trying desperately not to laugh* “All right, we need to have a chat…”

(A few weeks later, after he gently corrected a few things – -and told me many times if I wanted to keep doing things the old way that I could, but he knew I was clueless about how men did things — he watches me bring my two glasses of water out of my bedroom the same way I do every morning.)

Stepdad: “Thirsty last night, mate? You could have used one cup. I bloody hate doing the dishes.”

Me: “But you need two. One isn’t for drinking.”

Stepdad: *looking at me confused* “What do you mean?”

Me: “Grandma always has two. One for drinking and the other one sits there. She always told me not to drink from the other cup.”

Stepdad: *bursts out laughing* “Bud, the other cup was for her teeth.”

(Chalk that one up to child stupidity rather than only having female role models. He really was the most gentle and accepting man helping a prepubescent boy figure out what he wanted to do and what he was doing just because he’d always seen his mum doing it. I’m SO GLAD he was around before I started high school; I can’t imagine that would have been a pleasant experience doing things the way I’d always done them. To this day, he is kind and gentle and my number-one supporter in everything I do. Now I have my own baby boy and Dad likes to crack jokes like, “He’s getting big! We’ll have to get him his own razor soon.” I love my dad.)

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