18 Aug Chapter 11: Childhood

A lot of people assume because I’m intersex I had a traumatic childhood, but it wasn’t that way at all. My parents were really good about the whole thing—they didn’t freak out or try to force me into any one gender, they just let me feel it out on my own. School wasn’t that bad either. I was teased some but could usually diffuse the situation with my oh-so-snappy wit. I had good friends, teachers liked me, I read a lot of books and did reasonably well in class. Then when I was eight the affliction appeared. Suddenly people had more important things to worry about than the fact that I’m not completely male or female.


My parents tried to weather the affliction the best they could and shield me from the chaos that was manifesting around us, but before long I was helping them more than they were helping me. I didn’t mind too much though, I kind of liked being the caregiver. Later when I was in my teens I think they sensed I wanted to get out and explore life, at least more than I could being their live-in babysitter.

I was convinced that once I moved away mom would turn on the gas and be too afraid to make the decision to turn it off, or dad would not be able to pick a time to go food shopping and they would starve to death. At first I checked in on them daily, but after it became clear they were doing reasonably well I started to relax about the whole thing. Now there are so many services they can take advantage of to help them I don’t worry much at all.

Well, there was that one incident. I hadn’t heard from them in a few days, which was unusual. I tried to call but all I got was a busy signal. Worried something was wrong I went over and found mom and dad in the basement standing in ankle-deep water. The pipe going into the hot water heater had sprung a leak and was spraying water everywhere. They were just standing there looking bewildered.

“What’s going on here, why haven’t you shut off the water?!” I asked.

Mom was clutching her necklace. “I told your father to fix it but he couldn’t decide what to do, I didn’t think it would be that hard but honey you know with things these days he just—”

I interrupt. “Dad?”

“I was going to turn off the water but your mother just started the dishwasher, so if I shut it off the dishes wouldn’t get clean, but if I didn’t stop the water the basement would flood, so I had to decide but it was a hard one, I kept thinking about it hoping I would be able to–”

“Why didn’t either of you call the help service I arranged for? Their number is taped right to the phone!”

“Well dear the water shorted out the power to the desk in the kitchen, and the phone is the kind that needs to be plugged in to work, and you see—”

I was trying not to get too exasperated. “Why didn’t you just plug the phone into a different power outlet? Or go use the neighbor’s phone!?”

Mom shrugged. “Your father didn’t think of that, dear.”

I sighed. “Dad, where’s the water shutoff?”

“Side of the house by the back door.”

I shut off the water, plugged the phone in somewhere else and called the service to have someone come fix the pipe and dry out the basement. Parents, you gotta love ‘um.

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