How did this happen?
How did my six-pound, bright pink, squalling bundle of baby get so big? Everyone tells you it will all go so fast, like lightning fast. One day you are waddling around the living room with giants bags under your eyes and leaky breasts under your shirt and then you blink and your little one is turning double digits. At this rate, I expect that the next ten years will fly by even faster and the next time I stop and look over at my girl she will be wearing eyeliner, a bra, and a scowl.
So here we are, on the edge of womanhood. Her tiny little body is starting to blossom and her hormones are starting to scare me. I know that she will be entering the bullshit that is womanhood very soon, yet it all seems so inconceivable. She still plays with stuffed animals and barbies, and needs to be tucked in and snuggled at night. When she sleeps she looks exactly like she did when she was a tiny tot in her crib. How can she possibly be standing on the edge of puberty? As perplexing as it is, it's definitely happening. I was recently reminded of this impending stage in life by a letter in the mail – the Reproductive Health Letter from the public schools. Part of me thinks that it's just too soon to be traveling down this path, but the other (far more rational) side knows that it is time. Really it was last year that she started to have some questions about reproduction. She was working on an animal report on the tiger and had watched a National Geographic video that included a tiger giving birth.
"Mom! Come here!" She screeched from her bedroom.
Of course, I flew like a bat straight out of hell to her little tween lair wondering what had caused the urgency in her voice.
"Mom! Did you know that tigers give birth from their butts? Oh, Mom, I'm so happy that I'm not a tiger."
It was right then that I realized she didn't know squat about the miracle of life and for all I knew she still thought babies dropped out of a giant bird's beak all swaddled up and ready to roll. I sat her down and explained that the newborn tiger didn't come out of a bum, but the "other" hole, as all baby mammals do. Little Miss Smarty Pants connected the dots real fast and suddenly realized that her mammal body was capable of the same act. Before she could panic, I assured her that when the time came the doctors would give her so much medicine that she wouldn't feel a thing.
I had panicked; it was all I could come up with on the fly. She seemed okay with my response, but this tiger birth conversation did make me think about all of the other questions I might be answering in the near future regarding the birds and the bees. So yesterday when she asked me what she would be learning in Reproductive Health Class I was a bit more prepared. We sat down on the porch steps.
"Honey, remember how you were asking what a tampon was?" (As strange as this sounds, one of our toddler twins has a real fascination with tampons. Trying to open and destroy them is like her very own disturbing Rubix cube.) "Well, they are what grown up women use when they have a period."
Naturally, I was met with her confused face until I continued on, explaining to her the whole babies grow in a uterus and once a month the uterus does its thing and hence the period, the pads, and the glory that is female-hood. She was a bit grossed out, I don't blame her. I waited for her to ask more questions, like the ever dreaded, "where do babies come from" and "how does the baby get inside a stomach." Alas, she threw me a bone and didn't want to ask any more questions. She just wanted to go inside and make herself a bagel. Yes! Fine with me! I told her to ask me anything should questions pop into her head, and then I released her from this awkward rite of mother-daughter passage.
I didn't sleep that whole night. Did I do this right? Is there a "right" way? Why isn't there some script on the internet for parents like me who fumble and bumble when faced with the really tough questions? You can get ANYTHING on the damn internet! What if I confused her? Scared her?
In the end, I'm glad that I at least opened this door with her. I hope that she feels comfortable coming to me with her questions, I know that eventually, she will have a whole lot of them. For now, I think I am going to turn this topic over to the public schools and let them finish scarring my baby girl with Reproductive Health facts.