Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Brink of Things


My little girl is in so many ways still a little girl. She spends hours playing with her dolls. She cuts up the pages of catalogs and creates collages and wish lists. She dresses like a little girl, still perfectly content in her printed jersey dresses and leggings, with no desire to wear skinny jeans or try out trends. She jumps on her daddy's back for piggy back rides, not realizing that the task is getting harder and harder for her dad, who is still mostly daddy. At night she needs tucked in, though she would prefer if someone slept right beside her.

Nothing quite prepares you for the change, watching as your little girl starts to become a woman, before either of you are ready. My desperate hope that organic milk and grass fed beef would somehow keep change at bay has not been rewarded.

As I have always done, I turn to books to help me understand. I read and re-read the pages of The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, a slightly outdated account of the changing role of girls' bodies, which I found on the dusty shelves of my high school's library. Within the pages it recounts how teaching and explaining puberty to modern girls mostly involves the discussion of personal hygiene, and I see my own approach reflected. I can explain the need for deodorant and skin care. My daughter understands science enough to know that this all makes sense. But the book argues for a more inclusive approach. It suggests that we should be talking to our daughters about their approaching role as fertile women. I look at my own shy daughter, who only a few short months ago blushed at a candy commercial that featured a naked M & M. How do I talk to her about all the things I think that maybe I am supposed to talk to her about?

Ever since my children could ask, I told them the truth about bodies and biology. When they asked where babies came from, I told them. And I told them how they got there too. I'm not saying it was the right way, but it was my way. I  didn't want to lie, and  didn't want to have postpone an awkward conversation until my children were awkward preteens. It seemed easier to put it on the table and keep it on the table. But the awkward preteen is sitting at the table now making tickets for another talent show, little hand drawn giblets that litter her wake, and she might know the facts, but there are plenty of other things she doesn't know.  I'm looking at my little girl, and I don't quite know what to tell her or what to ask her.

And so I revert to my old standby, click purchase, and wait for Judy Blume to come and do the talking, hoping that maybe Are You There God, It's Me, Margret, might answer some questions she didn't even know she had.
This was written and posted with Sena's permission. 
I figure she's getting old enough that I should seek her approval before I share. 



5 comments:

  1. She's so beautiful. She is going to be an amazing woman. I think about this topic sometimes, having daughters, albeit very young ones....what will it be like when they start their periods? What will it be like when they get crushes on boys? How can I help them be incredibly confident and never take themselves or their bodies for granted? I think Sena is going to be just fine. She might not even have questions; she might just gracefully enter pre-teenagerhood and then teenagerhood with the confidence and grace and courage and energy that seems to exude from her! I salute you both, mom and daughter, for walking this beautiful road together hand in hand.

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    1. I think you might be right about her not even having questions. I can't honestly remember having that many myself. I honestly think the changing is so much harder for adults than for children. I know what it all means. It all carries this huge weight and import, which I don't think she is the least bit aware of.
      Thanks for your constant encouragement.

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  2. Good Lord I love you for this post. For being honest, with both us and with your kids when answering questions. For asking her permission. It's all beautiful and you're doing such a wonderful job.

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    1. Sena always reads my blog and I would hate if it started to embarrass her, which I'm certain it will someday. The hard part, or rather a hard part, is knowing how to balance my desire to examine my role as a mom with her need for privacy. We'll just have to see how it goes. Thanks, and I'm glad that I found for new internet home.

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