We Had The Talk at Sushipop

Her thick, brown hair morphed from a ponytail-bun into a massive, bee-hive knot after doing somersaults on the gym mat.

"It hurts, Mom!"

The elusive ponytail holder had become lost in her haystack of hair and would need to be cut out to set her tortured locks free.

I dug in my purse for the Swiss Army knife I hoped was at the bottom, amidst the Goldfish crumbs and wadded up balls of Kleenex.

An avalanche of purse-contents tumbled out, among them, assorted feminine products.

"Mom, what is this?" she asked, holding up a Tampax.

This is it. She’s almost nine, and I want her to hear it from me.

I always imagined us having this conversation sitting on her bed, my arm around her shoulders. The kind of tête-à-tête my mother never had with me.

But not in the parking lot of Sushipop.

As for what to say, I’m winging it. I don’t have anything prepared and no road map to guide me.

The extent of what my mother told me:

"Someday you will sit down to go to the bathroom, and blood will come out, and then you’ll be a woman."

There was no Q&A session, and she provided no context about what being a woman meant. So it wasn’t until summer camp, when I learned from my peers the life-long, pain-filled, baby-making implications of this development.

When my Big Day finally arrived, I was thirteen and had just returned from ice skating at the mall with a friend. My mother was wrong. It didn’t happen when I sat down to go to the bathroom, in a neat and orderly way.

It flooded my pants and sent me running to the bathroom at my friend’s house.

Luckily, my friend already had her period, and her mom was really nice. They encircled me like a band of womanhood, á la Red Tent, attending to me and sending me home with all the supplies I’d need until I could get to a drug store.

The thought of approaching my brick-wall-of-a-mother coiled my insides. 

That night, as she sat in her recliner waiting for the weather on the evening news, I perched on the edge of the couch, gathering the nerve to spill the beans.

"Mom? I need to tell you something important."

"Hold on, I want to see the 5-day outlook."

I throbbed, like a zit about to pop, from the unpleasantness of the encounter and the cramps I was learning to tolerate.

"MOMIGOTMYPERIOD."

I retreated to my room without waiting for a response. I threw myself on my bed, slapped on my headphones, and touched the needle down on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance 33 rpm.

The frustration and isolation I felt that night are fresh in my mind when I think about my Big Day, oh, so long ago.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do a better job talking to my own daughter, but I can only hope that I will.

She and I communicate infinitely better than my mother and I ever did.

I think I can do it.

I will start with the very basics and pave the way for future discussions.

I know I can do it.

And then I will reward myself with sushi.



Please come read and write with us at Yeah Write.  C'mon, you know you're dying to share that story about that one time at band camp.

Comments

  1. You will be great, I know! And it's so true... it never happens as neatly as they say it will. Loved the way you engaged your own experiences within the story.

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    1. Thanks, Peach! Have missed seeing you at Yeah Write!

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  2. and ice cream! love, surrounded you 'a la red tent'. i say, keep it honest but brief. at 9, they generally really don't want too much information. good luck!

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    1. Yes, I just gave her the bare-bones basics! Definitely nothing about S-E-X yet. Just female biology. My main goal was to answer her questions as minimally as possible and keep the door open for future discussions.

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  3. You got this. I think just being aware of how you would have liked to have been told will help you with your words. I can't say I envy you, this is certainly a sticky subject for girls.

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    1. Thank you! Definitely a challenging parenting moment!

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  4. nicely done! I had a boy and that was difficult enough!

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    1. Oh, boys are just a whole other set of issues, I imagine!

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  5. OHMYGOSH!!!! You have already done better than I did...handing over the American Girl book and basically saying "let me know if you have any questions, there will be blood and it will be okay". This is so timely as I needed to ask my daughter a feminine hygiene related question today as we pulled in to our parking spot at the store (we are almost 2 years in). When she shot daggers out of her eyeballs at me, I told her I would be more than happy to hold my questions until we were in the store where I would ask them very loudly. Um, so in other words, no awards for me this month either! Love the "elusive ponytail holder in the haystack of hair"!

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    1. Andrea, sounds like you are in the thick of it, and I can't imagine how hard it will be! I think I'm going to need a bigger house, just so we can get a little more separation between us, lol!

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  6. Replies
    1. Lol I can't think of anything to say. Just think if your purse had been organized the talk never would have happened caz the Swiss Army knife would have been easy to reach.

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    2. Damn straight, I am totally going to keep my purse organized from now on!

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  7. Oh lord, the red tent line was the best. I can't believe we have to do this as mothers....wasn't I just a kid yesterday. Ok, fine, 23 years ago, but whatever. Wait, 27.

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    1. I think this is the hardest part of motherhood. Time flies, doesn't it?

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  8. I was about to say that I lucked out in that I don't need to tell my son about getting a period, but then I thought of all the icky boy conversations that I might get roped into. No one wins talking to kids about puberty. No one.

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    1. I'm with you, I dread the boy conversations with my youngest, but I think I'll just have my husband the majority of that :)

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  9. My mom didnt say anything, either, and I think I overcompensate with my daughter. At age 6 she can draw the inside view of a woman and tell you about ovulation... I fall into science when I am not prepared for emotions

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    1. I am trying to just give her the bare minimum info & tackle it as it comes up. I completely understand about leaning on science instead of emotions. Much easier!

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  10. i know I need to have this talk with my just turned 10 year old but am not prepared for how awkward I will feel.

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    1. Oh my, it is so awkward. But I just gave her the basic answer to her question, and that appeased her, so it was actually a short talk. The difficult part will come later when S-E-X is involved...

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  11. Sometimes I'm really glad that I have a son.


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  12. If I had a girl, I'd have to outsource. SO BAD AT THIS SORT OF THING. Mine hit at 11 & I still haven't fully recovered from the shock.

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    1. Hmm, you've got me thinking now...who can I outsource this to? Great business idea :)

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  13. I've always wondered how I would talk to my kids about this, if I were to ever have kids. Of course, I would need to get over the hurdle of "Why you have two dads" first, but if I were to have little girls, I don't even know how I would handle this conversation. And truthfully, I don't think you can really "prepare" for this conversation. You can run the scenario in your mind and prepare what you want to say, but I believe your instincts will jump in when you're actually having the conversation. Who knows, you might tell her what the Tampax is for, and she might simply say "Okay, can I go play now?".

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    1. You are 100% correct...I gave her the simple answer to her question, and that was enough for now. I dread Part II, when I'll have to cover the Birds & the Bees. But children are so adaptable. They don't overthink everything like we adults do.

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  14. This made me ache. Such a big moment for girls, and in that mom relationship. I hope your mom followed up somehow, though we don't see that here. The fact that you are considering this and consider it a big deal means that you're going to do a great job, no matter what words you use. :)

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten. My mom actually did not follow up with anything, but that's a story for another day :)
      I think I did well with The Talk. Really the most important thing is that I just want her to feel like she can come to me. I think I accomplished that.

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  15. Discussing normal development was taboo in the past, thank goodness things have changed.

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    1. Yes, indeed. We need to talk to our children about these things.

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  16. I have boys. I will never know this dilemma.

    But the ultimate cure for anything is always sushi.

    Good luck!

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  17. You sound like a great mom, and I'm sure your version of "the talk" will be perfect for your daughter.

    My mom's version of the talk was similar to yours, but I also received the late 1970's version of the Kotex "Very Personally Yours" Pamphlet, sans Q & A. Judy Blume saved my ass in that department.

    Things went great with me and my daughter though : )

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    1. True, I got most of my info from Judy Blume. Thank God for that woman and her books. I seems to recall the Kotex pamphlet making the rounds at school, as well. Glad to hear it went well for you and your daughter. I think the fact that I didn't get much info/support from my mom has made me that more motivated to get it right with my daughter.

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  18. Speaking as a guy with no kids...

    ...sushi helps with everything!

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  19. I've been having snatches of this conversation with my daughter for awhile now. And I've heard her giggling with friends, too. She's nine. We got to the part where having your period makes you able to have a baby the other night, and she said, "Ugh. And then you have to tell a BOY about your period if you decide you want a baby." I sorted things out a little more than that for her, and she thought that was even more disgusting. I think she's hoping to conceive via alternative means.

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  20. I've told my wife that under no circumstances is she allowed to die before she can have the talk with my daughter. Because if I'm the one who has to talk to her about it, that kid's gonna have problems.

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  21. My experience was pretty much the same with my mom. And I was convinced that I couldn't take a bath anymore if I had my period. My mom didn't help much either. Thank goodness I have a boy! BUT I'm so not looking forward to the talks I'll be having about certain dreams and getting the hardness.

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  22. I told my daughter about sex on a random summer afternoon last year. She had turned 12 and still hadn't asked anything about it, so I felt it was time to just lay it all out there. She is 13 now and anxiously awaiting her period. Can't tell if she wants to get it, or is just curious....? And you know I blogged all about it!

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  23. My daughter rode home with her grandmother from the beach. When I met her at the door she announced, "I got my period. And I've told everybody," I think telling everybody meant texting all her girlfriends.

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