So, all those lucky moms who have GIRLS this is for you! We moms are so lucky now to be candid with our daughters about the subject I will call GIRL TALK 101. When I was young my Mom never said a peep about body changes, hair, sweat, shaving or pimples and NEVER breathed a word about getting your PERIOD! I was one of those unfortunate girls who was shocked during the health class film about what was going on with my body.
As my daughter approached 4th grade my pediatrician recommended that I talk to my daughter about periods and body changes. I thought it seemed a little premature but then I again I knew NOTHING at her age. I decided to go for it and let her be ahead of the game.
How does one prepare? It was suggested to me to use the American Girl Book, “The Care & Keeping of YOU”. I was lucky to have a neighbor hand the book down to me and she suggested I read it first. My neighbor also suggested that I let my daughter somewhat lead the conversation instead of blurting out all the data. It should tell her the basics and let it process and when my daughter was ready she would ask the next set of questions on her own. Sounds simple enough.
First, I read the book and I really thought..this is missing some things. So I decided I needed a few diagrams. I printed 3 diagrams (Urinary, Reproductive and Digestive Systems) from the internet. I was convinced that no way did my daughter know there was three separate things going on down there.
Next, I practiced what I was going to say! Really I did! Then I decided that her brother could not be around…we need GIRL TIME!!! So I arranged for it to be just her and I at home.
I presented my daughter the book and suggested that we read each chapter together (more girl time!) and she could ask me any questions as we went. I was honest and said her little girl body was going to change and become a more grown up body like other women. I said you will have to start caring for your body differently and you will begin to develop breasts, get hair and you will be sweaty. Then I presented my diagrams. I went over them in this order (Urinary, Digestive and Reproductive). I explained you have three systems and you have three holes down there. Yes I was that specific and I was right she had no idea! This is not covered in the American Girl Book. After she knew about the three systems she became inquisitive about the period topic. The questions were simple. Why does this happen, when will it happen and what do you do when it happens?
Here’s how I handled the Why, When and What to do.
Why: The egg is produced and if it doesn’t form into a baby it’s not needed so it attaches to the uterine wall and builds up blood and then it is sent out of the body. The blood coming out is called your period.
When: That’s a tricky one. I said it can start really at any time, but usually after you’re nine or ten years old. I also added that often but not always it happens around the same age as when your mother got her period.
What: What do you do when the blood comes out? I showed her panty liners, pads and tampons ( I bought all of them so she could actually see them). I also explained how to use all of the products and the importance of hygiene. We also made a Period Kit for her backpack for the beginning of 4th grade. I used a small makeup bag (a freebie from Clinque). The KIT included: 1 pair of underwear, 1 slender tampon, 1 panty liner, 1 pad and 1 sanitary wipe. I also explained that if her period should start at school that she would have her kit and she should ask to go to the nurse, use her kit and get cleaned up and that I would pick her up and she would come home with me and have Girl Time with Mom.
My daughter hugged me and said thanks for telling me all that. My daughter then wanted to read her book each night and we would have Girl Time together. That was it!
Now FAST FORWARD 9 months……….very much into 4th grade and BOOM! We need deodorant, hair starts growing and I had to teach her to shave under her arms! Yikes..shaving could honestly be a whole course! Then a little acne and we started a skin care regimen (another blog post!) and then the adventures in training bras started. All these things were popping up and then “it” happened.
My daughter had processed all the info, the book, diagrams and body changes and then “it” happened. My daughter with her sweet little face asked, “Mom, you know how people say I look like you and Dad? Well how can that be when the baby is in the girls tummy?” Ugh. She was ready to hear more. My mind was blank (and I’m sure my eyes were bugging out too). I told her those were good questions and I said I needed to plan Girl Time with her so I could answer her questions.
Take a deep breath girls! I sat my daughter down and I presented another diagram! This time it was the male reproductive system. Then I found a video of a real egg being fertilized by a sperm. After the fertilization it showed cell division and fetal development. I explained the egg is from the Mom and the sperm is from the Dad and that is why you look like both. My daughter thought the video was the most amazing thing she had ever seen and watched it twice. My daughter hugged me and thanked me. Easy enough…..until 10 minutes later.
Then the real zinger…”Mom, how does the sperm get by the egg?” CRAP! That little face looking at me and I was trying not to lose my cool. CRAP!!!!! I took a deep breath and tried not to crack up laughing and I simply said…., “The penis comes in contact with the vagina and then the sperm come out and swim up and find the egg.” My daughter said, “OK, can I have a snack now?” OMG!
Yes, I went through all that and never once mentioned SEX. Does that mean I don’t want to tell or for her to know? NO, but I’m letting her process things and ask questions on her level. When will the sex talk happen? Well, SOON! We are approaching middle school next year. Stay tuned.
I hope this encourages you all to think about your approach and get some tips on how I embraced Girl Time and Girl Talk 101 with my daughter. It’s a scary reality so show your daughter how brave you are and be open and honest!