The S-Word: Parenting Through Puberty

By Tannis Ross

This afternoon, I arm myself with a big mug of coffee, a garbage bag and a stiff dose of patience. It’s time to clean out my girl’s bedroom. Every once in a while, I do this and at the end of the task, I have taken away clothes that are too small, ripped or just plain worn through, and I donate them. Pieces of paper that have been lost under the bed, crumpled behind the bookshelf get recycled; toys no longer played with are taken away. Every once in a while, under the bed, in a drawer or sandwiched between books, I find a treasure.

What I find today leaves me feeling a bit stunned and full of questions. In one of my daughter’s make-up bags, I have found a stash of my panty liners, a tampon and some Kleenex. She is twelve and does not have her period. Or does she? Suddenly, I am slapped upside the head with a shocking question to myself. Did she get her period and not tell me? She tells me everything, and I try to convince myself that it is not so.

I bought her a book a while ago, What’s Happening to Me? That she reads it many times a week and uses as a reference. It’s a good book, one I recommend if you have a pre-teen girl (it also comes in a boy version). We’ve looked at it together, questions asked and answered, either by the book, or by me. We talked about her period and I know she is anticipating getting it. Strangely enough, she is excited. However, I didn’t know she was getting ready for it. My head begins to spin and in a panic, I wonder what else she is getting ready for. What the hell else is in that book? I frantically flip through its pages, not finding anything too shocking.

Cleaning quickly turns into a search. I direct my focus to finding what other books she has taken out from the library, and there it is. I look through its pages and read some of the chapter titles, mouth open, hands shaking, head now throbbing. Sex. I am not ready for her to read Chapter 4: what sex is all about and what it means. I am well aware that this is the age when questions start, and my heart is pounding faster than I think is normal. I gather myself, as I contemplate the conversation ahead of me and make the one decision I can on this fine afternoon.

I walk to the kitchen, dump my now cold coffee and reach for my wine glass. It’s time to think this thing through.

3 Responses to “The S-Word: Parenting Through Puberty”

  1. Kathy says:

    I hope the conversation went well – I'd love to read the follow-up!  ;)  

  2. Oh Tanis!  I remember that time so well.  When I was cleaning though I found that my daughter DID have her period for 4 months before she told me – at 10!!! I had boxes of pantyliners in the cupboard and she just helped herself. She was already doing her own laundry that age so it was easier for her to hide it.  She was just that kind of kid – very private.  But it was a huge shock!

  3. Tannis says:

    Thanks for reading Kathy! I will definately write a follow up!

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