Saturday, June 1, 2013

The lies we tell girls

Lately I've been wondering if it is about time to start talking to my daughter about one of the worst things what will ever happen to her: menstruation.

As much as she frustrates the bejeebers out of me with her inability refusal to turn off lights, comb her own hair, etc., there are signs that she is growing up. Last week, I took her grocery shopping with me. My preferred grocery store has good prices and a better-than-average selection of vegetarian stuff (also, a huge-ass liquor store). The bad news is that the store is about the size of a football field and it takes me the better part of two hours to work my way from one end to the other. Anywho, last week we were at the register and I realized I'd managed to forget milk. My kiddo volunteered to go and get it even though the milk section was as far from where we were as it could possibly be. "Okay," I said, a bit nervously. See, we drink almond milk. And not only that, it's a specific kind. Not unsweetened, not vanilla-flavored.  We buy the original flavor of Almond Breeze.

I proceeded to unload the contents of my cart onto the conveyor belt, while wondering what I would do with the wrong milk she would surely bring back. But nope! Moments later, I saw Short Stuff winding her way through the crowd of people twice her heart.  With the right milk carton cradled in her arms. So, see what I mean?  Growing up. Plus, in one week she is flying to Oklahoma by herself. I feel like she can handle the trip. I'm the one having a minor panic attack every time I think about it.

Although she's only eight, in a few short years she will probably get all teenagery on me. It seems like girls are menstruating earlier and earlier these days. I was 13 but even then, all of my friends made it sound like I was the last one to experience this miraculous event. Knowing what I know now (coupled with the fact that I can't have children anyway), it would have been fine with me if I had never started at all. Anyway, I'm starting to think I should probably lay the groundwork for profoundly awkward conversations later on by starting out with menstruation. I mentioned it to P and saw a look cross his face that reflected something along the lines of "glad I'm off the hook on this one."  The time he spends his daughter involves helping with math homework, reading comic books together, and playing "slug bug" in the car. Under no circumstances are lady parts discussed.

I don't know. Maybe it is still too early? I'm trying to remember when I got the menstruation schpiel in school. Fourth grade, maybe?  Fifth?  I remember filmstrips (yes, filmstrips) showing flowers in fields. I believe there was also a short movie (reel-to-reel action) showing smiling adolescent girls and, as I recall, more flowers. Also, soft music. I was told that a wonderful thing would be happening to me soon. I remember being baffled by the line about "you'll need to take a shower instead of a bath" while you are menstruating. I was so confused. "OH MY GOD WHAT WILL BE SO WRONG WITH ME THAT I CANNOT TAKE A BATH?!"

As I recall, we had to sit through a human reproduction program (girls and boys separated) every year for the next few years. When I was in sixth grade, I'll never forget poor Mrs. Crawford (the very best teacher who has ever lived and if you try to say otherwise, I will cut you) reading students' questions off 3x5 index cards and then talking about "public" hair. God bless her.

What we didn't learn in those classes: menstruation is not fun. Not fun at all. It ruins your day in more ways than I can count. Mrs. Crawford never mentioned ruined clothes and debilitating cramps and all that jazz. Before I try to talk to my daughter about how she'll have public hair in a few years, maybe I should go to the library and find a book that explains it all with a bit more cheerfulness than I'm likely to muster.

6 comments:

Sarah said...

We just ordered one for the boys from Amazon! I'll let you know if it discusses pubic hair for boys!

Sammy said...

I highly, highly, highly recommend Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. It's a book for teenagers about everything and after reading your blog for a number of years, I truly think you will appreciate it and the message it gives to young people. My mother gave it to me when I was 11 and I still have that copy of it. It helped me more than I can possibly say.

That said, 8-years old is too young for this book, but please look it up now so you know about it when the time comes.

Beth said...

Mrs. Crawford!!!!! Ahhh...the memories. ;)

Beth said...

Mrs. Crawford!!!! Ahhh...the memories. ;)

The Lovely One said...

OMG.... Bug is 7, and I've never even THOUGHT of having this conversation with her!

I started VERY late (16), so I'm kinda hoping she will take after her mama!

Beth said...

I was eight when my mom had "the talk" with me. I remember being horrified. And disgusted. Not much has changed about my attitude toward menstruation in the (mumble) years since then.