Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gleefully Stinky: Mother/Daughter Puberty Conversations

Hi Parentals!

 This is my first blog post here. So before we kick this off, I both encourage and look forward to your comments, ideas, rebuttals, etc.  Please feel free to agree or disagree or even play devil’s advocate, in leaving your comments below.   Email me with any questions that may come up.   My vast appreciations, hello, and welcome!!

 Getting to know me: I am a minimalist, environmentalist, perpetual student, teen mom, single mother, basement rock star, and entrepreneur. My girls are 7.5 and 11 years old.  Today we are tackling the 11 year old, with advice for parents entering the scary unknown for girls called puberty.  

J, as I often call my oldest, has been in cyclical-emotional-rollercoaster mode for about 2 years now.  Tracking her breast budding, hair follicle developments, and arm pit stinkage; I place her about 12-18 months ahead of where I was when I was glaring down the imposing face of puberty.  I was christened in to adulthood at the end of 7th grade.  My child is in 5th.  The countdown begins.

 I have always been open with my children.  Age appropriately, and in some cases where the question was not age appropriate I simply tell them such.  My typical phrasing is something like, “This is an adult subject and because I am open with you on most things, when I tell you that this is something that has to wait until you are older, please respect that.  I am not hiding anything from you, nor lying to you, I am just waiting until you have the mental capacity, maturity, and education to really understand it and its importance.”  Sometimes I get minimal resistance, but typically it fizzles quickly.  This is an especially good tactic for separating older and younger siblings, and revisiting a conversation with an older sibling in absence of the younger one.

 Gleefully stinky armpits:

In August, I began to coach my eldest child’s volleyball team. Deodorant optional.  I had been telling my child that if she feels like she stinks, or can smell herself, she needs to wear deodorant every day.  She asked how she would be able to tell.  I showed her the sniff test where you raise your arm up and stick your nose as close to your armpit as able and sniff.  As we were leaving practice one fine morning, she gleefully yelled “Mom I stink!  Come here and smell my arm pits!!!”  and I, the mom…did; to much amusement of the other parents, one of which is a pediatrician.

Waiter, can I get a drink?

J and I went out for dessert shortly after the stink, while my other daughter slept at my mom’s.  We had to be at a tournament the next day early and the wee one was not feeling the greatest, so Nana saved the day.  We were at Olive Garden and were talking about normal school stuff when out of the blue….

“Mom, do you bump knees under the covers?”

“Bump knees?”

“You know”

“I would imagine that if you were sleeping with anyone in your bed at some point you would bump knees, why?”

“No mom, not like, hit knees, bump knees.”


After eyeing me up for a few more moments, and then writing with her finger the word “SEX” in the sugar on the zappoli plate, I stared at her and raised an eyebrow; it hit me like a load of bricks. It was a parental freak out moment.  The kind you know is coming, but you don’t know is coming. MY mind exploded with questions.  So that is where I began, with questions to gauge her knowledge. Things like, how she heard about that, what did her friends say it was? So we talked about how, yes I had, which is how her and her sister got here.  What it meant, the sacredness of giving your body to another person, if someone tries to force you, what to do or say, and about being smart about it.  She knows she was born 14 days after I turned 17.  She also knows my fear for her and her sister that they could end up in that precarious balance.  We spoke of nothing in the physical actions department.  Then I asked her if she had any other questions,

“Mom, how will I know when I get my period?”

“When you scream for me from the bathroom, because you are bleeding from, well, the tampon hole, you don’t know why, and you think you might be dying.” (Side note: when she was about 3 or 4 she asked her aunt how babies got out of the mom’s belly.  My sister, without missing a beat, told her they come out the tampon hole….and that is how the name began)

 She giggled. 

As if the conversations so far were not bad enough i ask if she had any more.....Much to my dismay:

“Mom, what is a transvestite?”

Until next time J


Please use the following template questions to gauge your child’s understanding and their media and peer exposure.  These are just meant to keep a conversation going toward open communications now and in the future.

Gauging leading questions: (Think: who, what, when, where, how)

·         How did you hear about ________?

·         Where did you hear about ________?

(Gauge whether it is from classroom/peers or too advanced media outlets)

·         Who was talking about it?

·         Was there any one else you have heard it from? What did they say it was?

·         What do your other classmates say about ______? (correct any misinformation)

·         What do you think it is_______? (if they are silent here, offer them the ability to write it down and hand it to you.)

·         Do you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about this? (reassure them that curiosity and question asking is normal, and welcomed, and other kids are doing it, because the last thing they want to feel is different)

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