Friday, April 27, 2012

Cartwheels and Swim Class

After I wrote Wednesday's post I came to two conclusions.

The first one is there aren't any easy answers or great programs (that I know of) on how to coach your child through early onset puberty. Open and honest communication are a necessity. But even if those lines are wide open there's no fail safe to make sure your daughter isn't teased or the recipient of unwanted attention.

Maybe the best approach is to remember that girls, whether they have breasts or not, are still girls. Talk to them about what the changes mean and then go out and turn cartwheels with them.

In other words, accept the reality of the changes but refuse to let early onset puberty define your daughter's childhood. Instead, make a point to celebrate every facet of who she is and where she is headed.

I know this conclusion doesn't contain a lot of research or wisdom but sometimes the best solutions can't fix the problem. Instead they just attempt to cope with the situation at hand.

The second realization I had based on Wednesday's post is that men are NOT comfortable leaving comments on the subject of early onset puberty.

Which is okay. I understand their general squeamishness. Men don't develop breasts or have periods so I can see how this might be a tricky subject to comment about. However, the complete lack of comments by men on a blog post that, otherwise, got a crazy amount of hits reminded me of a summer long ago in the swimming pool with Child #2.

It was the starfish swim class. The class where moms and dads dress their babies in swim diapers and bounce around in the shallow end while singing songs designed to encourage everyone to put their faces in the water and blow bubbles.

Our class was led by a darling teenage girl who, on the morning in question, displayed an extreme lack of inhibition when she arrived on the pool deck and announced to the moms and dads (already assembled in the pool) that she had just that very moment gotten her period and would be joining us in the water as soon as one of her friends brought back some tampons from the local grocery store.

This announcement was accompanied by a helpful demonstration that included pointing at the general area where a tampon is inserted each time she uttered the word....which was often. In fact, the announcement was repeated several times for the benefit of the few dads who straggled in late (with accompanying hand gestures for anyone still unclear about where a tampon goes).

The dads in the class retreated to the far end of the pool and uncomfortably bounced their babies. Even when our teacher was suited up and ready to lead us in rounds of bubble blowing they could only be coaxed back to the edge of the circle.

The point of this story, aside from making me giggle at the memory, is my way of saying guys please come back to this end of the pool. From here on out I promise to limit my use of the words tampons, breasts, puberty and menstruation.

And besides, next week I'm kicking off my fun new theme for May. April's been fun. We've done a lot of growing but May will be even better.


Alison DeLuca said...

That awkward moment when the swim instructor starts talking feminine protection. Love it!

Brenda McKenna said...

That is a hilarious thing to notice. And I am really enjoying your April posts. May will be better, you say?! Awesome!

Angela Cothran said...

Wow, I love her confidence. Made me smile.

Weaver said...

Yep, it's a tough one for men. I'm not even sure they talk all that much about what their change is, and they do have it. Especially those hormonal rushing, puberty attacks (sudden anger).

~Sia McKye~ said...

We were pretty matter of fact about things like periods and what not. I have seven brothers. None of them are embarrassed to walk into a store and by tampons for the women in their life. (My brother Mike was a single parent with 3 girls and is a great dad.) My son has the same attitude, thankfully.

For our kids, the best thing we can do is give them age appropriate information. This, whatever *this* happens to be, is a normal part of life. If we treat it that way, so will they. If we prepare them for the negatives and the teasing it helps. It will still bother them, but they're not freaked out because it's been discussed.


Carol Kilgore said...

I'll never forget the expression on husband's face the first time he did the grocery shopping and tampons were on the list.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I feel like I need to give two seperate comments for this one! I loved the first part (and the second, but for different reasons!) I just want to say I love your blog. You are a great mom and I think you are wise beyond your years. ;)
part 2: That is so funny! My husband would have left and never returned!

PK HREZO said...

That is so funny about the instructor. For some reason period talk just freaks guys out. I say let them be freaked... it's the only time they gotta deal with it anyway. lol

Johanna Garth said...

Alison, it was truly priceless.

Brenda, I hope so!

Angela, she had amazing confidence.

Donna, that's such a good question. Not having any brothers I don't really know.

Sia, I think that's such a healthy attitude for both men and boys.

Carol, but he lived through it!!

Awww thanks Rachel! I know today's post did sort of a 180 on me as I was writing it.

Pk, wouldn't it be nice if our dealing with it was limited to overheard conversations!

Heather M. Gardner said...

Ha! I love that. Poor men...wait, I'm over feeling bad for them.

Chuck said...

Dang you women are so mean...hey wait a minute, am I the ONLY guy here?? More for me!

Scarlett said...

Wonderful post, Johanna! Though, I think your teenage swim instructor may have gone a teensy bit overboard with the repetitive public demonstration. LOL.

I totally agree with Sia on the *discomfort level is born from our own* idea, in regards to boys and men.

Our two boys certainly know all the parts and how they work, etc., as they should in my opinion, as well as the fact that it is and always will be in their best interest if they simply learn to communicate more effectively with their women!

And, Wow! I also LOVE your attitude! I so agree with addressing the changes as they come and then still encouraging cartwheels! Girls often feel, I think, that they are expected to be something else once they *Start*. It's only natural that their feelings about all things are going to change along with their bodies, but when given the chance to hold onto their childhood for just a while longer, they usually take it.

*Big, Big Smile*