I have (half) joked about how I can’t wait for my kids to grow up and start living independent lives. These people are now 3,4, 7 and 8, so their days of true independence are indeed quite, quite, quite far away.
In my imaginations, they are all well-adjusted, successful people, enjoying whatever occupation or profession they have chosen. They are healthy and live in nice houses. One or two of them have kids of their own. I have also conveniently, in the midst of those imaginings, skipped over the middle part: The part where I have to carefully orchestrate every breath they take in order to convert them into the type of Class A human being every mother hopes their child will be.
Master tattoo artists
You know – them folk.
So when my kids were tearing through the house delivering karate chops and roundhouse kicks the other day, I was perplexed. This is not how genteel people behave. I ordered them to calm down.
“Heh! Hehhh!!! Stop all that running! Stop all that screaming!”
That’s when I saw Nadjah drop to her knees and clutch her chest.
I rolled my eyes. Why is it no one is ever hurt until Mom or Dad says “stop all that noise”?
“What’s wrong with you, Na?” I asked tersely.
“Liya kicked me!”
“Oh yeah? It was that bad, huh?”
Nadjah nodded morosely and furrowed her brow. She was the picture of agony. So bloody dramatic, all the bloody time…
“And what’s worse, she hit me where I’m developing!”
She pulled down the collar of her t-shirt to expose what I consider to be a very flat chest. Seeing that I was unmoved, she pulled her collar down a bit further.
I couldn’t help it. I laughed – right in her face. Then I pulled a move from my own mother’s Big Book of Horribly Insensitive Things to Say to Your Kid and promptly set about discounting her concerns.
“What development?” I scoffed. “Are you trying to say you have breasts?”
“Uh, well, uhh…” Nadjah tittered.
“Well, you don’t,” I said flatly. The something occurred to me. “And where did you hear about ‘development’?”
She stalled. I added a laugh to let her know it was okay tell me. I wasn’t mad, just curious.
“I heard about it at school,” she replied at length.
I didn’t believe her. I was sure Douche Bag had said something to her about her body, now that he’s back from “Afghanistan”. She had never mentioned developing any time during the school year!
I grunted and told her chest was fine and she was not injured. Then I sent her to go do something else, which she happily did.
It’s time, isn’t it? She’ll be 9 this December. I got my period at 9. I was a B-cup by the following year.
Crap, crap, CRAP! It’s time for me to bust out the charts and talk to her about how her body is about to undergo changes. She has several friends, who at the tender ages of 10 – 12, are already “developed” and I’m certain she’s eager to join their ranks. I on the other hand would gladly do every and anything I could to prevent this from happening. It makes me terribly uncomfortable to watch this crop of girls whom I’ve fed popsicles and crackers to for the last five or more years becoming young women. It’s too soon! Much too soon!
How am I going to tell my darling rising third grader that she will soon be bleeding out her behind at the most inconvenient moment? How am I going to tell her about cramps, menses calendars and trackers and how the moon affects when and how heavy you bleed? How am I going to comfort her when her chest ACTUALLY begins to hurt because her mammary glands are in overdrive? How am I supposed to explain that she has to go through years of research and dozens of products before she accepts that her acne is just not going to go away until she magically turns 17 and her hormones somehow balance themselves out, or that the musty smell emitting from her pits is just natural for a girl her age and can only be masked by a heavy dose of deodorant? How, how, how?!?
One thing is for sure. I won’t be doing it the way my mom did it: which involved a hot Accra day, a couch, and a tampon wedged between my perspiring legs with no warning of the pain to soon follow. Sorry. I should warned you about that one. Now that image is going to be stuck in your head, isn’t? My bad.
Why can’t we skip all this unpleasantness and just go to the part where I’m driving her off to college?
Okay MOM Squad. I know a few of you have older girls. How did you prepare them for life as a “developed” young lady. Were there online resources you used? How many of you just buried your head in the sand and pretended it never happened? What do I do?!?!?!