Friday, March 6, 2009

The Talk

The primary focus of this blog is on karate and recovering from ACL surgery. However, there are times that I write about the challenges of parenting. Here is one of those times. If you are the parent of a young girl, you may want to continue reading this post. If you stop by this blog for martial arts related thoughts, I will return to the regular scheduled program next post.

At E's 9 year old well visit to the pediatrician, the doctor suggested that we start talking to E about puberty. The doctor recommended that we buy her books on the subject. Puberty? She's nine! I was not ready to approach this subject. I thought I had at least another year. I put this book purchase off for a few months. E would occasionally ask me if I bought a book yet. My usual response was..."soon".

A few months after the doctor visit, E came home from school with a million questions. You see...I was a bit too late in buying a book. In the lavatory at school, a six grade girl explained to E in great detail the purpose of the dispenser that graces the wall in every female bathroom.

It was time to buy the book.

I search for just the right book. I needed it to have the facts presented in a no BS manner. E is a smart kid. I do not just mean book smart. Yeah, she gets good grades but it is more than grades. Her teacher recently told me that some kids get good grades because they are good at being a student. The teacher explained that E brings with her a whole body of knowledge above and beyond school. E recently took the SCAT test through Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. She did very well on the verbal testing at 94% based on a sixth grade student. I think that is great since she is only in fourth grade.

The book I decided on was The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls (American Girl Library) by Valerie Lee Schaefer dated 1998. This book has helped millions of young girls navigate their way through puberty. It discusses everything from hair care, hygiene, bras and periods. It answers all the questions that a pre-teen girl may be curious about.
I handed E the book with a warning. I explained that this book was to be discussed only by her and female family members. She was not allowed to talk about it to her friends at school. I can image the phone calls I would get from other parents who were not ready to have the talk. She read it cover to cover. She re-read several of the chapters. E had a million questions. Warning: If you hand this book to your pre-teen...they will ask a lot of questions. Many questions are asked more than once. I read the book first so I knew what to expect.

She talked about the book with every female relative she could find including grandparents, aunts and cousins. I was prepared for the questions but my relatives were not. One day my inlaws picked up E from school. During the car ride, she asked her Mommom..."Which do you prefer, pads or tampons? I wish I was a fly on the wall of the car. Her Greek Grandfather, who raised four boys, was driving and he almost swerved off the road. It was not the car ride conversation he was expecting. They made it home in record time!

I recommend this book to all parents of young girls. This is a powerful, informative book for the pre-teen. The information made E feel more comfortable with the changes that will soon be happening to her body. It answered many of her questions and she no longer felt like she was alone.


Meg said...

The Care and Keeping of You is a MUST HAVE for any parent of young girls!! I bought it for my daughter and she read it several times.

I just about fell out of my chair when I read her grandfather's reaction to her question!! LOL!

Diver Daisy said...

Oh the timing of your post could not be more perfect. I am dealing with a class full of students who will be watching "the movie" on Thursday and a bunch of moms/families who don't want their children to watch it. I personally think it should be something that happens/is talked about at home but this is where we are now. I wanted permission forms like any other year but no go from the nurse, principal and pe teacher this year. Parents have to contact the school only if they GET the letter we sent home telling them that if that everyone will see it UNLESS they send a note to the nurse. These other teachers/admin don't realize that it is ME the parents will call - and they have my home phone number!! So kudos to you for being a great mom and talking about this at home!!!!

Steve said...

It's great to hear what parents of girls are doing! As for my boys, I am using "Preparing Your Boys for Every Man's Battle." It's a Christian-based book on the subject, that I recommend highly.

Michele said...

Meg: I agree. I wish there was a book like that when I was growing up.

Diver Daisy: Thanks! I appreciate your comments. I was worried about getting calls from other parents. So good. At my daughter's school, the movie is shown in fifth grade. Good luck on Thursday!

Steve: Thanks for posting a book recommendation for young boys. It is a challenging topic for boys and girls.

Mark Cook said...

We have gone through two copies of the book. I have two young ladies that are 15 and 17. The book brought back memories. I vaugely remember the years when they adored me. Now I'm annoying, retarded or gay. On some days I win the trifecta and manage to pull off all three.


Michele said...

Oldman: My daughter will turn ten next month. We have days when we get along great and then there are days when I am "mean" (making her do her homework, go to bed on time). I tell her that if trying to be a responsible parent is mean...then I guess I am mean.