Sunday, March 8, 2009

The slow march of puberty

M. endured the annual “welcome to womanhood” films at school this week. I signed permission slips when J. was her age--now the powers that be send notes home saying, “This is what we’re telling your children, live with it.” I’m totally ok with the open puberty discussions—knowledge is power—but I feel sorry for the parents who are completely blind-sided.

This year, the girls even enjoyed a field trip to the bathroom to view the tampon dispenser—how cool is that? The films themselves are produced by Disney…again, how cool is that. I envisioned Mini Mouse visited by the curse, lamenting her predicament via song in a high-pitched, somewhat annoying voice, while colorful birds twittered in the background. I just checked with my daughter and she assured me that wasn’t the case…I think Disney really missed the boat.

Unfortunately for M., if she’s anything like me, she won’t discover the joys of womanhood for a few more years. My mom gave me “the talk” when I was nine, and we excitedly ordered a boxed kit destined to meet my every puberty need. The kit arrived, I checked out all foreign objects within, then placed it in my dresser drawer. My emotions ranged from awe to fear to relief that I didn’t need any of the strange contraptions it held.

Every year, for the next five years, I repeated that ritual, brushing off the ensuing layers of dust and disappointment. By the time I actually needed the box, there were better, more convenient products on the market. My mom offered to take me to dinner to celebrate my momentous milestone—I was too busy reading directions to appreciate her loving gesture.

I’ve explained to M. that life arrives slowly in our family, and I’m not succumbing to puberty-preparation boxes. I’m in menopause, at a fairly young age I might add, but I’ve lovingly saved the last of my supplies for M’s impending future. I think we have a lot going for us—I’m not affected by PMS anymore, and M. won’t be for a few more years. By the time she is, J. will be out of college and firmly established in the adult world…I’ll just ship her off to his house for a few years.

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