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.