Two sisters, one talk, two very different reactions.
When Jacey turned 9 two years ago, I gave her the option of either having a party or spending the night at a water park hotel with me. She chose the latter. I used the opportunity to talk with her about periods, breast development, and puberty in general. I bought “The Care and Keeping of You” by the folks at American Girl to use as a guide and help answer any questions that she may have had. I waited until we were at dinner, seated in a quiet corner. I knew that she would not want to have the talk in the hotel room because she would feel like she was being lectured and I wanted to keep a light, upbeat atmosphere. She was completely horrified by the entire discussion anyway. Her usually pale face became deep crimson as soon as she heard the phrase ‘changes to your body’. She avoided eye contact at all costs, kept her head down, and studied her chicken nuggets. After speaking for a few minutes, I asked her if she had any questions. She held up a French fry and said, in feigned astonishment, “Look how big this French fry is!” That statement told me that she was completely overwhelmed so I changed the subject. I added a few bits of information throughout the night and I told her to read the American Girl book to help her understand what we talked about. To this day, she still hasn’t touched the book. She still turns red when I bring up any female subject.
Here we are, two years later. I’ve got another 9 year old in the same hotel, listening to the same talk. Bryn, however, not only wants to learn about puberty, she wants to know more than I’m ready to share with her. When I told her about the option of wearing a tampon so she could swim, she declared, “Well that’s convenient!” She listened, giggled, and asked questions until she was confident she had answers. I awoke Sunday morning to find her sitting in a chair reading the American Girl book in the morning light.
In two years it will be Tori’s turn. She wears bras on her head and thinks armpit hair is hysterical. I can only imagine the questions and comments she will have for me. I better start studying.