Idol - 1974- Age 5
The days after I sang at some adult party were good days for Dad. He was boasting about how talented I was. I managed to entertain so many adults and I was only 5. Dad would lift me in the air and swing me around while telling me that I would be the most famous person on Earth. I could also be a good Catholic and spread the message of Jesus to everyone through music.
Dad would sit on a recliner chair and write notes on a special pad. He would be planning what gospel songs I should have on my first album and what the cover would look like. He went as far as to plan where we would buy a mansion and how we would invest the millions that I would earn.
It all seemed so strange to me. I was only 5 so I still did not understand what fame was. I know that Shirley Temple was famous and so were the Jackson 5. Dad had a lot of expectations for me. This put a strange pressure on me as I had no clue how to be famous. I could sing and dance, but I did not know how to make everyone love my singing and want to pay for me to sing.
I also felt bad for my brothers. Dad no longer spent time with them and called them talentless and had nothing to offer. This made them feel unwanted and they were jealous of me. They were hardly at home and prefered to be with their friends. This meant that they ignored me, and on the rare occasion I was allowed out, they would get mad if I tried to hang with them.
The woman that Dad kissed at the party often came to visit us. She was now Dads girlfriend. This was another confusing time in my life. Did my dad no longer love my mother? She was waiting for him in heaven. How could Dad be in love with two women? I did not like that Dad was in love with this woman. I did not like that she visited us. This was also because she made it no secret that she did not like me. She kept on telling me this and that she thought I was a spoiled sissy that just wanted attention. I suppose this was because Dad gave me a lot of attention as he had plans for me.
It was time that I started with pre-school. I was excited about this as it meant that I could be with children my age. I did not have to worry about being famous or have big expectations placed upon me. I could play and not worry about practising or learning new songs.
This is what I hoped for. The other children in pre-school were not very nice. They asked if I was a girl, and did not believe them when I said that I was a boy. I was so confused as to why they thought I was a girl. I did not have long hair... it was not all that short either. I did not wear girl clothes and I did not speak bout dolls. They did not believe me when I assured them that I was a boy. They kept on insisting that I was a girl. This was not that bad. The worse thing is that no one wanted to play with me. I would be alone when there was time to play.
I thought that there was something wrong with me. My brothers never wanted to be with me nor did anyone at school. This can only mean that I was a person that for some reason did not like. I had no clue as to why a person would not like me. However, it meant that I now hated going to pre-school. The more I got teased at school, the more that I was convinced that I was too weird to be there. My self-esteem was now being eroded every time I went there.
I noticed the other children made deals about playdates at each other’s houses. No one ever asked me. This was just a confirmation that no one considered me good enough to be their friend. This hurt me a lot and I would often cry when I was in bed at night praying to God that someone wanted to have a playdate with me. I knew that this was a lot to ask for, as I should just settle for one person liking me.
It’s not as if I had time for playdates. Dad wanted me to practice a lot. This meant dancing, singing and learning new songs. He wanted me to have more than talent. He wanted me to sparkle when I performed. He called it the x-factor. Despite that Dad was demanding and that practising was hard, I loved it. It was an escape for me. I would pretend that thousands of people were looking and they liked me. Singing was like I was being set free and showing myself that I did have a talent. I was sure that the other boys in the pre-school could not sing.
Not everyone liked my singing. My brothers did not like the fact that Dad gave me all his attention. They would tell me that I would never be famous. They would call me a sissy and gay. They would say that sissies never became famous. This would confuse me and make me so sad. My brothers were just as bad as the others in the school. I did not know why people called me a sissy. I know my clothes were a bit girly at times, but I knew that I was a boy. I did not know why they called me gay. I had no clue what it meant. I just knew that it was not good. It sounded like an insult when they have said it.
Dads girlfriend was the same. She yelled at me all the time and thought I was a bad child that took all of Dads attention. I did not like her as much as she did not like me. I did everything I could to avoid her. It all ended when Dad kicked her out and never wanted to see her again when he heard her calling me gay. I tried asking her what Gay meant, which frustrated Dad. He assured me that I would never be gay and it was a sin.
Dad wanted to set the wheels in motion for my fame, so he decided to go to Dublin to find an agent to help my career. I was not all that excited about it as I did not know what an agent was and what he could do. I was excited that we would be living with my granny while he was in Dublin. She lived close by and despite this, it was not often that I have seen her. She welcomed my brothers and me with open hands and promised that we would have fun.
It was fun. We baked and we played a lot of games. My brothers were even nice. I think that they liked the extra attention. Granny would also get mad at them if they called me a sissy or other names. Then she would lavish some attention on them by asking if they wanted to help cook or play a game. At times it seemed as if my brothers were uncomfortable with the attention, and they made excuses to go out and play. This happened more often as we stayed at Grannies. In the end, it was mostly Granny and me that was alone.
Things were bad when Granny found some money that she had was gone. A big argument started between granny and my brothers, where she accused them of stealing the money. She did not understand how anyone could steal from an old woman and she definitely could not understand why anyone would steal from their grandmother. My brothers had no defence and I wondered why they were not arrested. My brother did not seem to care. They just ran out to play.
I told granny that I get called sissy a lot, and some thought that I was a girl.
“You are just feminine.” Granny explained, “The fact is that with the right hair and the right clothes, you would look like a girl. You probably do not know, but your mom treated you like a girl when you were born.”
Granny showed me pictures of me in a dress. Then she persuaded me that she finds one of the dresses my mom had when she was my age, and I should try it on. I reluctantly agreed and granny dressed me as mom did. Wearing a dress was strange. I felt like I was at peace and that I looked so pretty. When Granny showed me a picture of my mom when she was my age, I burst out crying. I looked like I could be my mom’s twin.
So for the rest of the stay was as grandmothers were as a girl. I do not think I was ever so happy than I was them. It was as if Mom was around me when I was being a girl. It was as if I had the freedom to dress as I wanted and showing the feminine side of me. I did not care when my brothers called me names or told me that I looked like a girl. The more I pretended that I was a girl, the more I felt like a girl. I started to think that mom was right. She dressed me like a girl. She must have known that it made me happy living as a girl. Mom must have known that I had the wrong body.
The only embarrassing time was when a boy from school went by Grannies house when I was playing in the front yard. I had a long flower skirt and a belly top. I did not even know his name and wondered did he knew me. Then I had a panic attack thinking that he did recognise me. He would tell the whole school and that would make things worse. I started crying and it took Granny all day and a lot of hugs to stop the tears.
I dressed as a boy when Dad came to pick us up. It was also time for school again. The boy never did tell others that he had seen me as a girl. It made no difference, as everyone continued calling me a sissy and girly. A part of me should not care, as I knew they were right. I loved my time as a girl. I was not afraid to dress like one. Despite this, I knew that they did not tease me because they supported me. They were just being mean!
Dad was not in a good mood. He had no success with any agent he visited. He got the same answer. The world does not need another child singer. My dad was mad for weeks over this answer. It ended up with him taking me to Dublin to see an agent in person. Dad thought that if they have seen me in person, then they would love me. It did not go this way. The agent thought I had lots of talent and should come back when I was an adult. He did not think the world needed a boy that could sing.
This devastated Dad. It was as if all his dreams were broken. I no longer had to practice and he no longer showed me so much attention. I was now a normal child and would have a normal future.
Granny visited us a few weeks after. She was also mad about the agent not giving me a chance. We were sitting watching a Shirley Temple film when granny had an outburst, “think if no one gave Shirley a chance! She was famous as a child. There is no reason why Dakota should not be famous.”
She told Dad that they should talk in the kitchen. I could not hear much of what they were saying. I could hear granny say that agent said there was no need for a boy and after some silence, I hear Dad yelling that what she was saying was a sin. This went on for some time.
I did not like when they were yelling. Why did they not ask me if I wanted to be famous? I did like performing and I loved singing. However, I did not want the whole world to tease me. Being a normal boy would mean I could be invisible.
Dad and granny came back. Dads face was very red as he told us that tomorrow I will be throwing all my clothes out and getting all new clothes.
To be continued.
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