The Care and Feeding of Mikey
November 23, 2005

(And no, ShallowMike, this isn't about you.) ;)

This "story" really is true, so far as I know. I have changed some details, like the name, but I also promised "Mikey" that I would tell this story and call it "The Care and Feeding of Mikey" for years. This is just the beginning of the story ... but like many stories, this beginning is probably the most important part. It certainly explains a lot about "Mikey's" later life.

Stretch your mind back, waaaaay back to the 70s (I know, I know, before some of you were even born). There was a little boy named Mikey going to public school in Texas. His dad and mom were divorced and his mother lived a few hundred miles away with her new husband and his daughters.

Mikey was a typical boy for the most part. He wasn't super interested in school, he was pretty interested in being a rock star, playing baseball and begging to play peewee football (American football). He caused about the same amount of troubles as did most of the other boys.

He had a secret that he kept from the other kids ... actually, he had a couple of them. One was that his father was a little unpredictable. Once, Mikey forgot to take out the trash and his father woke him up at midnight and told him to take the trash out now. Not so bad, really, but when Mikey tried to go back in the house, the door was locked. Still not too unusual, Mikey just groaned and pulled out some bits of plywood, made a touch of a shelter, wrapped up in some of the old rugs piled out back. This happened about once a month or so. Mikey didn't tell the other kids about things like that, or about being missing school for a week after getting a spanking with a 2x4. Stuff like that.

But the biggest secret was one that was really beginning to bother the ten-year-old Mikey.

"Dad," he asked one day. "Why don't I have a ... a ... why don't I have one like the other boys?"

His dad shrugged him off. "They grow at different rates, Tiger, and you'll get yours soon. Another year or two and you'll see it growing like you wouldn't believe."

Mikey had survived his childhood so far by trusting what his dad told him. So, even though he hadn't heard the teachers saying anything about boys growing things, Mikey didn't have too much choice except to believe his dad. And it did make a certain amount of sense ... after all, the girls grew stuff, why not the boys too? Still, he was a little concerned because it seemed like all the other boys already had something at least.

Mikey's life was about to change and change in ways he could never have predicted. His mother, whom he hadn't seen in years, had been struggling to gain custody of Mikey. She had remarried a wonderful man with two girls of his own and she desperately wanted her only child back.

So, at ten, Mikey was re-introduced to his mother.

She was shocked at her child's appearance. Gaunt, somewhat unkempt with his father's unorthodox methods of child rearing, this was not what she'd expected to find.

And, at ten, Mikey has a nervous breakdown when his mother regained custody.

Mikey, as most adults reading this have long since realized, was a girl, not a boy as he had believed for the entire ten years of his life.

Now, I can understand that Mikey had to believe his dad ... a kid pretty much only knows what his parents teach him ... to a point. But how did Mikey go to school through third grade and no teacher notice that something might be wrong with Mikey's family? Didn't any of them question the "boy"? How did none of the other boys notice that Mikey didn't have the same plumbing? Even in the 70s, how could the most basic facts of Mikey's life have escaped the eyes of every adult around him?

How do you get over a lie that colossal? How do you really get over living your first ten years as a lie that you didn't tell?

I don't have any answers ... I'm not sure anyone does.

And, then of course, what the HELL possessed Mikey's father to try to tell such a colossal lie? What the hell was he gonna do when Mikey started "growing up" and developing in areas that Mikey did not expect to develop?

Again, I don't have any answers and I'm not sure anyone, even Mikey's dad, has those answers.

I guess I'm something of a sucker. Mikey's one of the folks that I took in while I was in college. He was having some health issues and couldn't work while waiting to have surgery (no, not that surgery, though he would have liked to have had it).

But I'm really glad that I was able to help Mikey out if only for a little while. He lived with me two or three different times when he would otherwise have been living out on the streets. He deserved a chance to relax and let someone try to take care of him, even a little bit, if even for a while.

Why do we do horrible things to each other? I know giving him a home when he needed it did not even come close to cancelling out all that he'd been through. But maybe that trust that I showed by taking him in when I literally did not know him at all, helped counteract a little of the distrust he had to have for the rest of the world.

It's hard to leave yourself open to a stranger. It's a risk. It can be dangerous. It can be stupid. I'm not arguing that.

But, if you try to exercise some caution and take some risks, both, it can also be very rewarding. And it just might help someone who needs it.

Posted by Red Monkey at November 23, 2005 4:39 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Seawave said:

The depths to which human beings can sink in their treatment of one another never ceases to amaze me. This poor broken soul will likely never have a life completely free of angst. We can only hope and pray for peace for Mikey and that love and generosity will act as a salve on the wounds from the past.

November 23, 2005 12:14 PM


charles said:

OMG! It sounded like the truth is stranger than fiction story... hehehehe

November 23, 2005 1:55 PM


scribeswindow said:

I'm amazed the teachers missed it. Does this mean that Mikey never used the urinals at school? Isn't that physically impossible for a girl to do it that way? I'm assuming she would have gone into the cubicles. Surely a teacher would have noticed, especially when dealing with very young chilidren.

November 23, 2005 11:52 PM
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