Written January 5, 2010
Preface: To Mary~ If one day, when you’re grown up, you read this, I know you’ll be terribly embarrassed and I’m sorry. However, let me just remind you that I’ve also written about your brother shitting on a boat so get over it.
My little girl is growing up. No, that particular rite of passage hasn’t happened for her yet, but it has for someone very close to her. It’s only because we haven’t seen this young lady much lately that Mary doesn’t know about it yet. I’m quite sure the next sleepover will be especially informative for her even though I would bet a million dollars this girl’s mother has threatened her with her life if she breathes a word of it to Mary. I think back to what I was like at that age and the things I would talk about with my girlfriends during sleepovers went in this order: 1. Boys 2. Mean teachers or classmates 3. Boys 4. Any changes we had experienced in our bodies until one or all of us tumbled over in a fit of giggling. These topics could only be made more enticing by our mothers telling us NOT to discuss them with anybody. It’s inevitable. I know very soon she’s going to find out all about her friend’s foray into womanhood. And even though she’s only (almost) nine and it pains me beyond belief, I know I should prepare her for what she’s about to hear.
To that end, I went to the bookstore and bought a book that might help me explain it better. I got a few suggestions from people who have ventured down this path before me. I decided on a book entitled “American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You”. I chose this one because it only dealt with puberty and general hygiene issues, and had nothing whatsoever to do with sex education. One step at a time for me, I like to take things slow.
So, I found myself in Borders, in the children’s non-fiction section, searching for this thing I didn’t really want in the first place. I located it on the shelf next to a book that had “Everything you wanted to know about sex!!!” on the back of it. Really? Everything? I certainly pray to God it does not have EVERYTHING an adolescent would want to know about sex in it. I tried to ignore that piece of filth and tentatively picked up my book. I started flipping through a few pages and then stopped when I saw an in-depth analysis on the different types of feminine products available. I felt sick. I closed the book. Maybe I should head to the fiction section and pick up a copy of Judy Blume’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” instead. No, I decided to suck it up and stick with the plan. Good, solid, honest information is best, right? Then why did I feel like I was buying porn?
Honestly, I was so embarrassed I had to grab a book for myself just so I could put it on top to cover up the “period” book when I checked out. Sometimes cashiers at bookstores like to get into discussions about what you’re buying and I could just imagine a pervy middle-aged man taking a look at “American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You”, raising his eyebrows at me and saying, “Ooooooh. Does someone have a young lady on the verge of womanhood in their household? Hmmmmm?” Ugh, I felt like the whole store was staring at me as I walked toward the registers. Thankfully, a teenage girl was the next available clerk and she couldn’t have cared less what I was buying. She did, however, ask me if I needed a bag. My eco-conscious mind spoke before the logic center in my brain could process the question. “No, that’s okay.” Crap! Now I had to walk out of the store and through the parking lot with this blinking sign of my daughter’s development in plain sight. I almost went back and asked her for a bag and wondered if I could also ask her to wrap it in brown paper. I swear, I almost wish it were the January issue of Hustler instead. But, I didn’t.
I quickly walked to my car and put the book in a fabric grocery bag I keep in the console. It wasn’t just to hide it from my eyes, but also from Mary’s since I was about to pick her up at faith development at church. So that means I was also hiding it from Drew, God, and Jesus. I prayed that I didn’t get into an accident and had visions of the book flying out of my broken windshield and landing at the feet of a pimply faced boy who had just witnessed the crash and who was now doubled over in laughter.
God took pity on me and I arrived home safely. As the kids were getting ready for bed, I took the book out of the bag and flipped through it again. In the comfort of my own home, I felt like I could find the strength to face whatever may lie beneath the cover. Oh my Lord, there were naked cartoon pictures. Cartoons of girls in various stages of breast development and I don’t even want to describe what else. Suffice it to say, I don’t really remember exactly what my pre-pubescent body looked like but I do NOT remember having what I can only describe as a chia pet between my legs like this cartoon American Girl. Someone got a little carried away with the charcoal pencil if you ask me. The only saving grace in all of this was that my husband was home and, as uncomfortable as these cartoon breasts made me, I was going to revel in his reaction to them.
His look of absolute horror was priceless. There’s a memory and it’s a keeper. He closed his eyes and shook his head in an attempt to erase what he had just seen but no amount of brain bleach is going to scrub away that image anytime soon. I consider it a kind of pay back. I’m the one who will have to sit down with Mary for this mother-daughter heart to heart and discuss things in great detail that are better left unsaid. And knowing Mary, she’ll have lots of questions. He gets to have “the talk” with our son. I imagine it will go something like this: “You’ve got a penis. It gets bigger sometimes and it’s fun to play with. Don’t do it in public. And don’t stick it in a shampoo bottle. Love you, son.” Not fair!
So, just now when he came into the room holding the book open to the cartoon procedure on just HOW to use feminine products and declared it the most disturbing two pages he has ever seen in his entire life did I laugh and clap? Hell yes I did! For what’s the point in having kids and going through milestones if you can’t celebrate them together? That’s why when I talk to Mary I will hug her tightly and tell her it will be okay, that it’s all part of growing up and that it’s something beautiful to be proud of. In reality I know no matter how tactful or gentle I will be, this experience will scar her for life and will always be the stuff of legend in her mind. Much like my mother asking me, “Do you know about things? If not, we can get a book.” I’m actually kind of glad “American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You” was not in publication then.
Copyright 2010 by Me