Saturday, October 12, 2013

Just The Facts

My teen-aged daughter knows more than one girl who says that, when she got her first period, she had no idea what was happening, was terrified and thought she was dying … because no one told her.

I would like to give the parents of these girls the benefit of the doubt, maybe they didn’t realize puberty would happen as early as it did – and not suspect this was a plan on their part to instill in their girls a terror and loathing of their own bodies.

But I can’t.

They call them “the facts of life” for a reason, people. How can you just not tell your kid?

Besides, my kids’ pediatricians began formally reminding me at check-ups around age 7.

And, really, I had started much earlier. Kids ask questions about everything, including the pregnant lady they see in the playground and the thongs they see in Victoria’s Secret (“People wear those?!”).

That’s not to say I told everything all at once. I applied some advice I had once heard about the IRS – “If they ask a question, answer only that question” – to this situation. When my sisters were small, a neighborhood boy asked his mother about blood he had seen in the bathroom. She freaked and told this 6-year-old everything about sex – which he then kept trying to test out on my sisters.

My daughter had been content with “Babies develop in their mommies’ bodies” for years before she thought to ask, “So, how does the baby get in there?” (And visibly shaken by the answer, she responded, “Oh, man, I wish I hadn’t asked.”)

But here’s the kicker: telling your kids “the facts of life” is the easy part.

Explaining all the complexities of relationships, that’s far more involved.

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