I distinctly remember the first time I got my period. Not a fond memory. I was with a friend – not a close one – for the weekend in a rustic mountain cabin that had no phone and signs on the toilet that said “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” Ewww. There I was. Reaching that developmental milestone with a sort of friend, playing monopoly with her entire family. I hated Monopoly enough, but now it’s intricately woven into the memory of..well…a very bad weekend. I spent an entire weekend with toilet paper in my underwear, wondering what the sign on the toilet would have to say about that.
Although, I must say, it wasn’t much better when my mom finally picked me up. I told her, of course, at which point she dragged me to the neighborhood drug store to get pads. It was then that I realized she lacked sensitivity. And an indoor voice.
“I have to put those where?”
They say that these days, girls “develop” much earlier, so, in an effort to avoid similar humiliation for my daughter, I gave her the rundown when she was about 9. I told her it’s her body’s way of practicing building a nest for a baby. Which, I pointed out, she wasn’t allowed to have until she is 30. I tried to make it positive and talk about it matter-of-factly, but ya know what? There’s just no super happy, won’t this be cool, way to tell a 9-year-old girl that when said nest practice is over, “blood will come out of your hoo-hoo.” My daughter freaks out when she skins her knee. But I tried. I really tried.
We came up with a code. If she got “it” at school, she could call and say “code red” – I assured her no one in the office would have any idea what she was talking about. And that was that.
One day when I picked her up, she excitedly ran up to me, and whispered “code red” in my ear. What? Huh? Nahhhhh. Must be a urinary tract infection. Surely, it couldn’t have already happened. “No,” she assured me. “I have it now.”
It took awhile for me to collect my brain cells. Then it occurred to me. For two straight days, she had eaten barbequed beets – the red kind. I summoned her and explained that I thought root vegetables – not “development” – were to blame for the red tint she observed.
It’s been a year. She hasn’t eaten a beet since.
But she is developing and her chest is sprouting, and I pray and hope that her erratic behavior is because of hormones and not a more serious personality disorder.
She does that head-bobbing sassy thing and she’s mad and then she’s sad and then she’s possessed by Satan. She’s 10. I don’t know if it’s hormones in the milk or BPA or some change in the universal cycle, but what I do know is that she is nowhere near emotionally mature enough to handle this “development.” I wish there were a way to hit the “stop” button on her body.
When I look at my daughter, I see the little baby I cuddled, the helpless little tiny thing whose every need I had to meet. I don’t see boobs and boys she’s likes and attitude and independence. I tried to demand that she stop growing up, but that didn’t work.
But dang. They shouldn’t be growing up this fast.