So last week, when I was out working, my eldest daughter Taylah (who will be 10 this week,) asked Boatman, ‘dad, what’s a period?’
His response was typical: It’s an amount of time.
Obviously, that was not the type of period she was referring to. 🙂
It turned out the girls at school were talking about how they were ‘starting their period,’ (which I highly doubt considering the complete lack of physical development from most of these girls), and had suggested to my apparently uneducated daughter that she ‘ask her mum’ what it was all about. I say apparently, because I had already considered myself quite the organised mother, and given her a preemptive chat last year, about the changes that may occur in the next few years. Unfortunately (or perhaps thankfully?) she had forgotten almost all the details. (Except for the fact that boys have hormones that make them go crazy, which is possibly one of the most important life lessons to learn ;))
So it was time for a refresher.
Now I need to preface this post with saying that I am a complete biology geek and loved studying the reproductive cycle when in school, so my impartation of knowledge was rather enthusiastically infused with a whole bunch of science talk.
And a diagram.
My main concern when beginning this conversation, was to inform her that although menstruation was the signal that your body was physical capable of having a baby, it did not mean that motherhood was in any way imminent. So I broke ‘the talk’ down in to what I considered the most important factors:
Like I said, I’m a biology geek, so this seemed the logical place to start (for me anyway!) She was already familiar with the idea of the double helix from school, so I was able to expand on that a little and say that all the information contained in that, was determined by 46 chromosomes we have in our body. Using my fancy illustration, I told her that we had two chromosomes for each set of information, and that one set came from the mum and one from the dad. That’s why children look like their parents. (Which was a huge lightbulb moment.) A baby needs 46 chromosomes to form.
Once I explained how the idea of genes worked, I went right back to the womb. I told Taylah that when she was growing in my tummy, and her body was forming all the parts that would make her a girl, she was given ovaries. These two ovaries are where her body hosts its eggs, which are also developed in utero. Her body has made thousands and thousands of eggs, and these are where a baby starts. The eggs only have 23 chromosomes in them so they can’t be a baby. They need their other pair which will come from the daddy.
‘How do the daddy parts get in there?” She inevitably asked, and I exercised my right to parental wisdom and answered with a simple, ‘you don’t need to know about that now. We will talk about that later.”
The Pituitary Gland:
The next thing we talked about was the pituitary gland, as the kind of control centre. This little guy starts telling your body when to get ready to turn into a woman, but sending out messages in the form of hormones. These tell the body to do all kinds of things that occur in puberty. (Which was a topic we had already covered, but I did refresh her on.)
I didn’t use the actual O word, but I said that once your body had done all the crazy things that occur in puberty (like growing boobs, and hair in funny places), that the ovaries would start to release their little eggs, one at a time, down into the faloppian tube. In preparation, her womb would be building up a nice little layer on the side of it, so the egg could grab on, kind of like a nest, and that’s how a baby grows. If there is no daddy part to help the egg grab on, her body gets rid of all the layers and it comes out in the form of blood from her front bottom. This occurs once a month every month for about 30 years or more. Yay for being a woman right?!
One thing I was really clear to stress was that this all happens at the right time for her, and that it is just her body getting ready for one day when she will become a mother. A period is one of the last things to happen, because there is so much that needs to occur before. We talked about how you can’t have a baby without having breasts to feed it, or hips to support it, and that is why all those things occur first. It’s your body getting ready.
One of the things that occurs with all these changes, is different body shape and size. We talked about how clothes may begin to feel different or tight, and that she might feel that she is overweight, but she’s not. It’s normal for a woman’s body to hold fat, but that does not mean you are fat. I said that if she ever felt that she felt bad about her appearance, that she needed to speak to me about it. It might just be that she just needs some new bigger clothes that fit better. (This topic I really emphasised especially on account of my own body issues as a teenager, and even now.)
Finally we just touched on the idea that because of that pituiatry gland sedning out crazy messages, you might start to feel a bit weird sometimes. Overly angry or emotional or even happy. That’s ok and normal, and even if your friends react weird sometimes, they need compassion because it’s just as likely their bodies are doing funny things to them as well. Again I emphasised the importance of talking about the emotions, to try and be reasonable. That kind of self control is a great thing to have.
To finish off, I showed her just how pads work so that there was no lingering fear about being unsanitary or having an accident, and explained that when the time came, we would get a calendar that would help her keep track of things. She was fairly content with that, and I think kinda excited.
Weird kid. 😉
So that was it. A very long post, sorry, but all the bits I thought necessary to pass on to me pre teen?
So tell me: what have you said/will you say?
Anything you would add?