|Tweens, that tough time between little girl and teen.|
I always told myself that I would be the cool parent. I would tell my kids like it is. When they were old enough for such things, I would supply them with condoms. I thought all of this nonsense before I had children. It turns out I am not the cool Mom, not by a long shot! I would really like to run away far and fast. I don't want to touch this subject with a ten foot pole. It's embarrassing.
Here's the thing, I know that the more relaxed I am about sexuality, the less likely I will become a grandmother before I am good and ready. In Sweden, a country that is very sexually liberated there is barely a teen pregnancy. Are Swedish kids not having sex? No, I'm pretty sure that they are, it's just that they are comfortable enough to ask for and use contraception. Knowing all of this does not make the discussion any easier.
I hit puberty early, I was 10 ( I was too young, but tell that to my body). My mother prepared me for what was going to happen to my body. I cannot imagine going through that huge change, and no one preparing you, it would be terrifying. I knew that I could not put the talk off for too much longer. I will be honest, I would sooner confide to my grandmother that I am a subscriber to pornography (I'm not by the way), rather than tell my daughter about how babies are really made. I prefer the old "stork", or the tried and true "cabbage patch".
Last year before Grace's tenth birthday I sat her down and had the "your body is going to change" talk. I skimmed over the basics. I then handed her an amazing book, "The Care & Keeping of YOU", by American Girl (I LOVE the American Girl brand).
If you have a 10 year old daughter, I highly recommend this book. It is beautifully written. Not only does it talk about body changes, it also talks about hygiene. The importance of washing their faces to avoid pimples, keeping their hair clean, the things that you may not think to include in "the talk". I told Grace to read the book and then tell me when she had finished and we would talk about it.
A few days later, Gracie came to me looking a little disgusted. She had lots of questions. I answered them the best that I could. Then came the really tough question.... "How do you really make babies?" (unfortunely this one was not covered in the book). My mouth went dry, and I wanted to throw up, Oh God, it had come, that question that I had dreaded had come. I swallowed the vomit, and tried to put on a cool face. "Act casual" I told myself, while my internal voice was running back and forth squealing. I told her the truth. "Oh that is GROSS! I will never let any boy do that to me!" My first instinct was to tell her that she was right, and she should NEVER EVER LET ANYONE DO THAT! That would solve a lot of my problems, however down the road it would create problems. "No it's a very beautiful that happens between two people who love each other" (you notice that I didn't say that you had to be married?) This was the tricky part, how to make it that it is not too terrifying, and yet, not make it so awesome that she wanted to try it. I really emphasised that it was something that should happen when she's a grown up, and in love with the person. There was a long pause as she thought about something, "OH GROSS, Did you and Daddy do that?" I wanted to say "NO, your'e all adopted." But I told her we do, and it's a really beautiful way that people who love each other show their love. Again, my mouth was dry, I wished that the earth would swallow me up whole, but I tried to act like I was cool with the whole conversation.
I got through the conversation. On drives when it is just the two of us, sometimes Grace will ask questions that have occurred to her. It does not feel like it at time, but it's a good thing. I want her to ask me first. I want her to be comfortable enough to ask anything. I don't want her to listen to her friends and and them tell her the wrong information. Knowledge really is power. As time goes on the questions progress, just like her maturity.
Recently we have had discussions about boys. Pretty soon boys may to ask her to do things. I want her to have the self-esteem to say no. I want her to have the knowledge about what they are asking her. We also had a talk about older boys. We always tell our children to be careful of strangers, but we forget that paedophiles had to start somewhere. As girls we all had crushes on older boys. The older boys were so alluring, so mature, they could grow peach fuzz moustaches. Research tells us that most sexually deviant men begin to experiment in their early teens. Because I know this information, I decided that this needs to be included in the "birds and the bees talk", or should I say "The birds and the bees continuing dialogue." I told her that if an older boy ever asked her to be his girlfriend that she needed to say no. That if an older boy ever tells you that you're pretty, and he wants to go off on a walk with you, say no. I told her that older boys that want to date younger girls have something wrong with them. One year older was the only acceptable age difference until high school. She wanted to know why. My answer was simple. "Do you want to date any of the boys in Riley and Rowan's class?" (Riley and Rowan are three years younger). "No!" "How come?" I asked. "Because they are just little kids....... oh" she understood what I was telling her eureka!
Here is what I think about the birds and the bees dialogue. I say "dialogue" because for me it's important that the kids receive the information they are ready for, in terms that they will understand. To me the dialogue protects them. I would never let my kids drive in the car without a seatbelt. I would never let them ride a bike without a helmet. They need to know how their bodies work. They need to know how to keep themselves safe.
Soon I will be buying "The Care & Keeping of YOU" for Riley. I dread that conversation, and yet I know how important it is. I still need to research similar books for boys for Rowan. I'm not sure what age they do all of their changing, I guess that I have some research to do.