When each of my two children turned ten years old, they usually got a bigger bike, a CD, a birthday cake and … THE TALK. My husband had no idea there was such a talk until I approached him with the idea three years ago.
“I’d like to talk to our son about the birds and the bees,” I said one morning during breakfast.
“Already?” he spat his coffee back in his cup.
“It’s time for the first of three talks,” I informed him. “This one will have to do with how their body will begin to change in the next year or so and it will include a VERY brief introduction to the reproductive cycle.”
“Do you know how my parents talked to me about this subject?” he questioned me.
I shook my head.
“My Dad walked into my room when I turned thirteen and said, ‘Are you ready for the talk about the birds and the bees?’ and I said, ‘Dad, I already learned about everything from the neighbor boys up in their tree house when I was nine.’ He was shocked. He just said, ‘Okay,’ and shut the door. Just between you and me, I think he was secretly relieved he didn’t have to tell me anything.”
“My Mom was the opposite,” I replied. “She held weekly seminars for my two sisters and me at the dining room table that would have made Dr Ruth look like the Virgin Mary.”
A few days later, I sat Josh down on the couch. My daughter who was six then knew something serious was going on was dying to be part of the action.
“Absolutely not,” I answered her pleas to stay in the room. “Go watch television until we’re done.” She stomped off and I’m sure she felt very left out that day. Fast forward three years and here we were again, just the two of us … on the couch … ready for a serious talk. Meanwhile, my husband was hiding somewhere in a soundproof room trying to think about anything other than what was going on in the living room.
“YUK!” she yelped before I even began.
“I haven’t even talked about anything yet!” I exclaimed. “Now, first let’s talk about how your body is going to change in the next two years. Hair will begin to grow in certain places on your body as other parts of your body begin to swell and grow …”
She interrupted me as a look of horror crossed over her face, “GROSS!” she yelled as she plugged her ears.
I talked louder so she could hear me, “You have ovaries and a uterus and once a month, you have a bunch of eggs inside of you that are released into your fallopian tubes. This is just part of the way that babies are made.”
My husband walked into the room just as she unplugged one ear and said loudly, “You mean I have a dozen eggs inside of me like the kind we eat for breakfast?”
“Good Lord,” he muttered as his face turned beet red. He slowly began to back out of the room, “You need some milk, honey, right? Right? I can go to the store right now to get that milk?” He ran out the door and slammed it behind him.
I sighed and knew it would have been a bad time to ask him to pick up a box of tampons. I turned to look at my daughter who had her head buried under a pillow. “Annnnyway,” I continued, “Once a month you will also begin to have something called a period or a menstrual cycle.”
“Is that what Grandma calls ‘the monthly curse?’” she asked, her voice muffled from under the pillow she still held over her head.
I wracked my brain to think of something intelligent and positive to say, “Periods are a natural and wonderful part of being a woman and an integral reason why we keep pain relievers stocked in our medicine cabinet.” I paused for a moment, “But seriously, having a period is a constant reminder that one day when we’ve earned our college degree, are over thirty years old, and happily married to a man who makes a decent salary and has promised to do the dishes and change the diapers for the next 18 years, we can be a mother.”
“How long will I have this thing called a period?” she asked shakily.
“Ohhhhh probably at least 40 more years,” I replied cheerfully as I noticed my voice getting higher with every word. As I watched her face register the terrifying fact I had just relayed, I decided to leave out the details of my recent attempt to put my uterus up for bid on eBay hoping that someone would decide they needed an old, battered reproductive organ that obviously wasn’t doing me any good anymore. After all, if people sold advertising space on their forehead on eBay, I certainly could sell my uterus for $50.00 (or to the highest bidder).
As I dabbed the sweat that had accumulated on my forehead with my extensive page of notes I had printed out from the Internet on puberty, my daughter stood up. “I’m tired, Mom. Can I go jump on the trampoline?”
“Go ahead,” I encouraged her, “As long as you don’t have any more questions. A woman’s reproductive system is a complicated instrument that takes a lifetime to understand.” She rolled her eyes and skipped outside.
I sat on the couch and contemplated the talk. In my mind, it was a great success … or so I thought, until a few moments later when I heard my daughter telling her friends on the trampoline, “Any day now, I’m going to be dropping a dozen eggs from my private parts!”
So much for success.