The ramblings that appear when I'm driven to write what's in my head, rather than what's in someone else's.
Yes, I’m the mother of a teenager. She’s nine. She’s older than her 11-year-old brother, and some days it seems like she’s older than I am. It’s not right, but at nine she’s going through all the things that no one should have to go through. Ever. Or at least not until they’ve had at minimum 12 years of blissful, playful, unemotional innocence.
There are the mood swings. The slamming doors. The mystifying new underwear. The mystifying new body. The tears. The acne. The bewilderment about why any of this is happening. That’s the worst part. There’s no way to help her understand. Though, God help me, I tried.
Yes, I tried. What was I thinking.
I approached it very positively. With visual aids. We’d gotten through the bra shopping with nary a limb lost. Not knowing how long she has before the true blessing of womanhood is upon her, I decided to be proactive. I’d heard horror stories of my aunt’s foray into adulthood, how she was out riding pasture one day when “the curse” showed up, and, having never heard a murmur of such things, she was sure she was going to die before she got home.
You can understand how I wouldn’t want that for my daughter.
So, one day when she was particularly emotional, and I’d sent her to her room for being utterly disrespectful to her brother, I decided it was time to try to explain why she might feel emotional. Mistake #1. Don’t try to explain to a teenage girl (or any girl) why she’s emotional, while she’s emotional. In fact, don’t try to explain anything to a girl while she’s emotional. Not calculus, not how much you love her, not what you’re having for dinner. This is the time to keep your mouth shut and give hugs. And chocolate.
Mistake #2: Bringing visual aids. While I couldn’t quite bring myself to explain how a tampon works (this is my baby girl!), I think I did get the point across. It’s hard to tell how much she heard through her hands, which were covering her ears while she was curled on the bed in a fetal position, but I didn’t give up.
So, I finished up and said, “Do you have any questions?” Silence. “Do you understand?” Silence. “Please answer me.” Silence. “Did you hear and understand what I said?”
(Hands still covering her ears.) “If I say yes will you leave?”
Can’t wait to introduce the idea of shaving her armpits.