Friday, August 13, 2010

Tea Bags Aren't Just For Lipton

My mom has a friend with a daughter in the 8th grade. Yesterday she came home from school and asked her mom what something she had never heard meant. My mom's friend didn't know either so she googled it. When she found the horrifying answer to what the thing meant, she called her husband freaking out. She was not ready for the 8th grade and all of its sexual slangs that require googling and careful explanations to 13 year olds. But she always told her daughter to ask her first if she ever heard something that she didn't know what it meant so she was obligated to tell her. She wanted to be the source of knowledge for her kids. I like that. BTW, the most awkward moment of the day was when my mom asked ME what the thing meant. And when I explained it to her and she still didn't get it, I acted it out a bit. Then SHE was horrified. Naturally, I blamed JD for being disgusting and telling me all about these sick things. 

I grew up in a house of "I'll tell you when you're older." We were very sheltered so most of the sex questions didn't get asked until we were teenagers and were picking up on things from other kids. Even the non-sex questions got the same reply: "I'll tell you when you're older." This infuriated me because it left me feeling embarrassed for asking something that I was obviously too young to know about. Google didn't exist in my day so I resorted to the good ol' dictionary. I learned that a period was a punctuation mark, a dyke was a railroad spike, and a woody meant abounding with woods. I was always left feeling more confused than ever. Why did my mom buy tampons for sentence structure and why did my older brother laugh when his friends talked about the woods? None of this made sense to me.

Eventually I quit asking and just started trying to put the pieces together. If my parents didn't tell me about these things, who would? Kids on the school bus in the 7th grade, that's who. And sometimes my friends' moms. My education of my own body came from the insert in the tampon box. After my monthly punctuation mark came. I don't think my mom meant to leave me in the dark about these things, I think it was just painfully uncomfortable for her to talk about them with us. And maybe she figured she would have more time before our bodies grew up. Or maybe she wanted to keep us sheltered from the world. Whatever her reasons, obviously we turned out fine (and made up for lost time by learning what EVERY disgusting sexual slang means. And then perfecting them. I kid, I kid. Maybe...).

I think she did us a small disservice by not being the first source of information for us. I would have gladly accepted that a period was a monthly thing women have when they are older. At 9 years old, that was plenty of information for me. She would have to elaborate as I got older, but age appropriate information from a parent is so important. Otherwise, you've got 9 year olds googling and asking other 9 year olds what the pile driver is. And trust me, if they're left to google it, it won't be pretty.

I have a feeling it will be difficult for me to discuss these things with Beatrice as well. I don't want to tell her too much before she's ready. But I do want to be her primary source of information so that I can know that she is learning the right thing at the right age. I really believe in parents being able to have lots of communication with their children, otherwise little inquiring minds might learn too much too soon or learn the wrong thing altogether. How funny would it have been if I told my mom that I'd tell her when she was older when she asked about the thing with her friend's daughter. Hehehe. 


  1. Exactly why we use anatomically correct terminology in my house. Even if my 4 yr old wants to know if I'm using my "feminine hygeno project" each month...

  2. Haha!! Yes, I think I will take after you and just tell it like it is.