“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 http://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….