If you’re a parent or guardian of a girl-child, do you remember when she first got her period? Do you remember the mixture of emotions you felt? Well, below, I share my own reflections when I went through this with one of my daughters, a while back.
Mum, I saw a red stain on my panties. I’ve had to change my panties about three times today and it still keeps happening. Is this my period?’This was my nine-and-a-half-year-old daughter, asking. I looked up from what I was doing and tears filled my eyes. I knew this moment was coming. I knew it was just a matter of time. But we love to live in denial, don’t we? Especially when it comes to our children. When they are growing older, it certainly means that we are growing older (scary thought and very vain too, aye? Well, I didn’t claim to be a saint, did I? 😀 )
And then it reminds you that you’ve got to have THE TALK with her, explain the whole birds and bees concept and actually admit to yourself that this is the beginning of the bigger milestones (secondary school graduation, entry to university and graduation from it, wedding etc). Then you remember again, the little girl you brought back from the hospital, a couple of years back. All these thoughts race through your mind while you look at her vacantly. With these thoughts, I also fast forward to the fact that she is a lady now and I start to wonder whether I have taught her enough: Can she hold her own in social and intellectual discussions? Is she self-sufficient? Does she know her way around the kitchen (and I have also equipped my son for this skill – Cooking (and indeed all tasks) are gender-neutral in my home)? Not enough to cook a Cordon Bleu meal (not a bad idea though) but at least the beginnings of a future MasterChef; How soon should I enroll her in a driving school and perhaps, I should start off by teaching her how to change car tyres? Does she know how to comport herself in social gatherings etc? I know some of these were futuristic…but they were thoughts running amok in my head, anyways…
‘Mum? ‘And then you are back to the present. You start the process of telling her what the blood means and it suddenly strikes you…she already asked you if it was the period. You pause for a moment and ask her where she saw that or how she knew that. Stupid question really, what with the internet and television and books. Well, as it turned out, she’d read about it in a book. And so already knew a lot about it. But I still had to explain the whole process to her, including how the blood comes about, the implication of this for her and how to handle the monthly periods and cramps. This information session is important and must be ongoing because at this time they have a number of friends going through the same thing who may be giving them different information, most of it not true.
I go get my daughter a pack of sanitary towels and hand them over. I smile to myself and give her a big hug. My daughter has started her journey to womanhood.