19th Nervous Breakdown


“Daddy, what’s puberty?”

The perfect ending to a terrible week. Her gorgeous eight-year-old blue eyes caught my fearful surprise and I stopped playing with my phone mid-tweet. Over my right shoulder was a brochure that read “Puberty for Girls, How To Have The Conversation”. You know, what, American Medical Association? How about, not putting that pamphlet in a doctor’s exam room where you wipe noses and check fevers!

You’ve read about our deceased kitten, Jerri, on Monday https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/animal/  That started a domino fall of crap that included work stress, financial strife, the worst anxiety attack I’ve had in over two years, writing angst with both the Robots novel and my beloved Helene story then finally, a sick middle child asking about boobies and periods.

I don’t lie to my children. I also don’t hide things or distract them from pertinent information. I have a blended family of multiple parents, baggage that Delta could make a fortune off of, and so many screwed up issues that would keep self-help authors busy for decades. In my house, we talk, a lot.

“Lyla, honey, do you really want to know?”

Nursing a sour stomach due to a viral infection, I thought she may be too dehydrated and tired. No. She wanted the skinny on female development. She smirked, then smiled and let me have the hard time.

“Daddy, just tell me. You’re supposed to tell me everything.”

I referenced her 16-year-old sister. There was discussion of bras, the body cleaning itself, and becoming a woman. My stomach grew sick. I think my heart stopped beating once or twice. The doctor bolted into the room like an NFL defensive end busting up a play action pass. I felt safe.

After we were done. My daughter and I walked across the lobby and saw the same brochure. I was screwed.

“Okay, daddy, so when I’m sixteen like Tay Tay (her older sister Taylor) that means I’ll be a woman with boobies and periods?”

I just wanted to be drunk or away or not in the moment. I put my hands over my face and audibly sighed.

“Sweetie, you will always be my little girl. Your sister isn’t a woman but her body is preparing her to be one. Promise me you’ll ask you mom about this next time?”

She laughed. An actual guffaw. Not a giggle. Not even a chuckle. It was an obvious, malice aforethoughted laugh. I still love her, but at that moment I wanted to lock her in a room with no windows.

“Thanks, daddy. I like it when you talk to me.”

Parenting is hard. Really, friggin hard. I have 3 daughters.

Excuse me while I get back to my 19th nervous breakdown….


51 thoughts on “19th Nervous Breakdown

  1. Ohhh stop having nervous breakdowns. Panic attacks. I have those too, So awful 😦

    Your Helene book is coming along so nicely!!

    You did fine as a dad. Just being there to answer questions is fine. I’m sure she’ll keep asking everyone she can.

    This was a sweet post 🙂

  2. You handled that pretty well. You didn’t go into convulsions on the floor, didn’t go screaming for the doors, didn’t just hand her a book and say “hey read it.” That last one is what my Mom did to a 10 year old me. So you handled yourself well. Good job Dad.

  3. Oh…little girls….absolutely TERRIFY me. You are a strong, strong man, my good sir. Strong indeed. I felt right in my comfort zone when I was asked things like “Mom, what’s a blow job?” and “Mom, why does my wiener act funny in the morning?” Unfortunately for me, my boys are plenty old enough to know all about periods. There seems to be a 3-5 day stretch of time every single month in which I am the butt of EVERYONE’S jokes.

  4. I can’t imagine how tough your week was. Sorry to hear about that.
    You may be drowning in estrogen and talk of periods, but at least you’re loved to bit shy all these ladies. So that’s a beam of light on a dreary week…right?
    Hope your weekend brings you a calm mind and no biological inquiries.

  5. oh my lord, lance, good on you, whoosh. differerent, but the first couple times the subject of how babies are made came up with my kids, i completely blanked, totally shocking myself with my abilty to answer. we talk too, i don’t shirk away from stuff. but for some reason i was like a deer in headlights. someone actually recommended a BOOK (which i had never heard of) and it TOTALLY helped. so maybe i should have one of those damn brochures available. you got any extra?

  6. Have you survived sex ed with your daughters yet? Oh the stories mine comes home and tells me would make a romance novelist blush. LOL

    The line of communication is open here too. My childhood involved one of those “we don’t talk about sex or puberrty” deals and I’m not going to do that withh my kids. Let me tell you. I never knew I could blush so much!

    I am so so so so sorry you’ve had such a rough week. Helene is coming along so beautifully, seriously.

  7. I love your daughter! She is precocious and challenging you at every turn, I will bet. Seems to me you handled that like a pro – your three daughters will cherish their daddy questioning time their entire lives.

    *fist bump

  8. I’m very impressed. My son usually comes to me with his serious question so I know I’ll soon find myself fumbling to talk about “guy stuff” that I’m ill prepared to deal with. Ah, growing kids… and I thought babies were hard to handle!

  9. I think you were great Lance, and the proof is what your daughter said to you in the end. As adults, we are much more uncomfortable about this stuff than kids are. It’s wrapped up in our own perceptions of sex and all that goes along with it.

    It sounds like your daughter is a curious sort and not afraid to ask you anything. That’s a wonderful testament to how she feels about you.


  10. Lance, I think you’re an awesome dad. And I think you have an awesome 9-year-old. Although that was a little cruel of her. 🙂 Sorry about your rough week. Hope things look better next week!

  11. You’re awesome. As a daddy. As a writer. This post reminds me of the time I drove by a billboard with my eight year old daughter. “Mommy, what’s rape?” Yeah. Hugs and shots (make mine Limoncello please) all around.

  12. My wife always says she’s glad we have a boy, so that I am the one tasked with giving him all the requisite info on this subject. While I can’t imagine that will be fun either, it would have to be better than what you just went though (father to daughter). You handled it really well. Not sure that I could have if in your shoes. I might have left and made her mother pick her up to finish the discussion.

  13. Oh wow! I have two sons and two daughters and I am SOOO not ready for these talks yet. It sounds to me as if you did very well. I think it’s great that you took that approach. FOR REAL! Now, when you’re done having ‘the talk’ over at your house, why don’t you come to mine 😉

  14. Lance, I feel for you. I can’t imagine what it’s like having girls, but what you’ve written here and all the things my wife has said sure makes me glad I don’t.

    As it is, I just had to have the “morning wood” talk with my middle kid. It wasn’t pleasant.

  15. Nervous breakdown aside, I think you rocked it out of the park. You answered the questions, you were honest and that is what I strive to be. Strive . . . it is easy right now though because my kids are only 4 and 2.

  16. I have breakdowns about these things and I’m the mom who’s supposed to be okay with talking about them. My husband passes our daughters off to me, but we had a boy the third time, so that one will be all him. I get nervous every time my oldest (age 10) says she needs to have a private talk with me because I know it will be about puberty and things I don’t want to talk about. But I try to answer her honestly anyway.

  17. The pamphlets. They will get you every time. At least it is easier to have an opener for a conversation, then to have to bring that puppy up out of the blue.

    You should have been a fly on the wall when my 13 y/o daughter read the last Twilight book and we contrasted and compared normal human biological reproduction vs, what is only a result of being impregnated by a vampire. Hmmm… I might just market that book. -Ellen

  18. I. FEEL. YOUR. PAIN. My 12yearold son informed me this week that he has sprouted ‘down there.’ I wanted to crawl into bed and cry. In my head I shouted, “Noooooooooo!” To him, I responded, “Well, I guess you’re just growing up.” Hang in there dad.

  19. chosenchaosblog

    With two boys and two girls Babe and I each have our tries ahead of us. I don’t remember my Mom talking to me AT ALL about anything having to do with body, sex, periods, etc. I wish she would have so I am certainly going to be a talker. I think that’s the best approach, makes them feel safe. Good for you!

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