It was hot. I mean 115 degrees on a summer day in Kansas hot. Our family was on vacation visiting my dad’s brother. I was feeling funny; not “ha ha” funny, but something else.
My period had started.
All I really remember is my Aunt Betty giving me a big pad and a “thing” that was elastic, and since it didn’t fit, she gave me large safety pins to attach it to my panties. I thought I would die in three days and that was why she was whispering. She warned me not to take a bath and said, “Don’t wash your hair.”
Okay, I’ll die hot and dirty, I thought.
I was 9 years old and would have my 10th birthday in two months … if I lived.
Where was my mom?
You might think that my mom was cruel or mean for not being there to help when my period started. No, she was not able to talk about anything because she was shy and no one talked about “that” in her family.
I had been wearing my bra for two years. Was I a big girl now? I remember coming home from Brownie day camp crying because the girls were laughing at me because of that bra. Mom cried with me.
That was back in 1954, and I was in second grade, ready for third grade in September. Fast forward to 1993 and I was 48 years old. Our family reunion drew relatives from several states. My Aunt Betty took me aside and told me she was never so mad at anyone as she was that day with my mom, all those years ago. But that was how it was done then.
People didn’t talk about those things.
My life progressed and I still wished I had known some information about my body and the reproductive system. The schools were no help, and mom was not prepared and was so shy.
When mom was pregnant with my sister, I asked, “Why is her tummy getting so big?”
My dad said, “We’ll tell you when you are 18.”
I was 12.
Not long after that, mom gave birth to my sister in the front seat of a 1955 Chevy before they made it to the hospital.
When I was 14, the cute, popular boy asked me to go out for a Coke while we were at a football game. I asked my dad, and he said to be back in 30 minutes. I never got my drink and I have a memory that still pops up occasionally. No knowledge and a strong arm left me a different girl. I never told anyone.
I was married at 18 and turned 19 a month later. Still no “birds and bees” talk!
Okay, so all this to make the point that you need to talk to your daughter about her period, the changes going on in her body, and the reproductive system.
Different girls need the information at different times and ages. I know you don’t want to talk too soon. I also know it is a different world. But I needed to know.
So, ladies and gentlemen, get a book, video, or just give the information in small bits. Just don’t let your daughter find out the “facts of life” in the wrong places.
Carol is a grandma who was born in a log cabin in West Virginia and grew up in Texas. She had many adventures working overseas in five different countries and in several states, and her travels have given her a look at cultures all over the world. She now lives in Missouri with her husband, Ross. At 71 years old, she believes she is qualified to mumble a little.