Friday, September 9, 2011

The Birds and the Bees

DISCLAIMER: Uncle not read!

I should have known tonight was going to turn into a deep and perplexing conversation when Layla asked if I used tampons (she said tamp-oons). I am sitting here with my Mason jar of red wine thinking about my performance during the presentation of growing up. I remember my original encounter with growing up. My mom sat with me and gave me the "talk". She went into detail about body changes, hair growth and periods. My recollection of the whole thing goes a little like this: "there is no Santa, you will bleed from your butt and me and your dad have sex". By the tender age of eleven I was a solid C cup...a good head taller than most kids, I had acne, a mullet and a perm. I remember going to the salon and asking for "sides" and a perm. "Trim the top please and leave the bottom long". (Refer to my About Me page). I was not the most elegant thing in the world and there are times when I enter a room and I can immediately feel like that awkward oily kid who just wanted to remain invisible. I have been shying away from the fact that days before Layla's ninth birthday I know it is baby is going to grow up.

Maybe this started earlier when I bought her her mini bra. She said she had measured around her body and she was a 28. She got out her manual and turned right to the bra section. By her manual, I am referring a book she had picked out on her trip to Columbus. (Note to Carolyn...please give me a heads up when buying Layla a book that has more than the punctuational explanation of the period). For the last week or so, Layla has been referring to the manual and asking me random questions. "When can I shave my legs?" "I need my own brush because it is good hygiene". "When I am a teenager I wont get pregnant because I will be too busy going bowling and roller skating with my best friend Alexis". In her most sensible, reasonable Layla fashion, she has been carefully studying the pages of her American Girl : Care and Keeping of You: The body book for Girls. I began to scan the pages of what she had become so obsessed with lately and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised that it was a very informative and practical book. I thought back on the in depth diagrams of lady part insides and the diagrams you fill out of the parts of the testicle. The stuff that you couldn't help but sneer about and be utterly mortified about at the same time. As a kid, I felt it was all so gross and weird. I didn't want any of those things to happen to me and it seemed like I had to be the pioneer for these changes.

I have to admit, I am impressed with the way Layla handled everything. She came out with her questions..almost like she was ready and excited to become a woman. She wanted to do things like wear a bra, be a B cup and shave her legs. I felt blindsided by her questions and the way she reacted to the I was the one snickering at the dick joke and she was the one calling me immature. "What is a period" she asked. "Well, um..its..well its complicated". I would stammer. "Can I read the book?" Liv asked. There is no privacy conversation when Liv is around. I kept sending her away on little missions so Layla and I could talk privately but she would boomerang right back with another question. I know Liv didn't quite understand what I was talking about, nor did she actually pay attention long enough to listen to my words. I focused on my Q&A session with Layla.

Layla: Does it hurt to wear a tampoon
Me: not really. maybe at first but you get used to it
Layla: Why do you wear a tampoon?
Me: because you start bleeding. It is your body practicing for when you are ready to have a baby
Liv: Does it hurt to have a baby?
Layla: no. They put you to sleep
Me: Yes it hurts. And you aren't always put to sleep
Layla: (flipping to the bra page) Am I a B cup?
Me: Not yet.
Liv: Are you a B cup Mommy?
Me: I wish. I am actually a double D cup. (giggles) boobie sizes are like fruit.  A B cup is like a plum or an orange. a double D cup is more like a cantaloupe.
Liv: Then I am a blueberry
Layla: I am a cherry
Me: pretty much.  Layla, do you have anymore questions? If you do, you know you can always ask me. These are more questions you ask Mommy and not Daddy. I have had these things happen to me..Daddy didn't.
Layla: you know sometimes you get your period and it gets on your pants. Then you just tie a shirt around your waist.
Me: that is a good idea.
Liv: I like a shirt tied around my waist.
Layla: My legs are hairy.
Me: will be able to shave eventually. Maybe when you are 10.
Layla: I have to be careful or I will cut my legs
Me: It takes time to get used to. You know you will grow hair other places too. Like under your arms
Layla: ewe
Me: and around your private area
Layla: do we shave that?
Me: um.
Layla: maybe when I am older?
Me: maybe. lets talk about that when you are older
Layla: when I am a teenager?
Me: yes. Being a teenager is rough. You will have these things called hormones that will make you a little more emotional
Layla: Like Olivia?
Me: exactly. And you probably wont like Mommy and Daddy at all. You will want boyfriends and think you are always right
Layla: Do boyfriend make you have babies?
Me: sort of. you always need to be responsible
Layla: Well, I wont have a boyfriend until I am ready to have a baby. Probably when I am pretty old, like 20.
Me: probably much older
Layla: I will be too busy doing art and writing books.
Olivia: I wont be mean to you Mommy
Me: Yes you will. Its what teenagers do.
Olivia: I will still love you here. (she points to her heart). And I promise I will still take care of you when you are old. Just like Deejes (what she calls my mom) does with Mimi (my grandma).
Me: Thanks

I remember being pregnant with Layla..I was so excited I was having a girl. In the back of my mind there was this day we would have that talk. I would have to look into her innocent child eyes and tell her her body was about to do things to her she would never be able to imagine.  She was going to become awkward and get zits...and start to smell from sweating too much. But it has slowly started to happen. First there was the deodorant. Then she started to shower on her own...and I mean actually want to shower. I think back on her eighth birthday when all she wanted was her own room. Almost a year later, it is a necessity for her to have her own little place to become a woman in. In true Layla fashion, she is coming into this change like she has every other change, prepared. She has a manual, she is not afraid to ask questions. She is both excited and accepting of what will happen to her. I cant help but to admire her for that. She looks at it as science and nature. I looked at it as ridicule and torture. Its times like these, I can hardly believe she is only going on nine. Just like me, Layla is on her pursuit of growing up. She has always been this old soul..this deeper person. I am proud of her tonight. But don't worry...she still believes in Santa!


  1. Layla picked that book out while here this summer then totally forgot about it. I should have been more aware of the content. That is my fault. I am glad she is taking the information to heart, though; particularly about the boys. She needs to develop her art and writing first.

  2. I love this post! Especially your explanation about cup sizes. Your kids are great.


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