The Talk (No, Not That One. The Other One.)


Photo Credit: Jon Bunting

Is anyone else willing to admit that they watched Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? Right. Well, for the two of you with hands raised, do you remember the “Womanhood” episode? The one where Colleen, the daughter, thought she was bleeding to death but didn’t want to say anything because a bunch of other sick people were more important.

Or so she thought. At the end of the episode, she learns that she is, in fact, a treasured member of the family.

And also, she’s not dying.

Even though she’ll feel like she will, several days per month for the rest of her life. Or until menopause, whichever comes first.

Ah, coming of age. Every girl’s triumph. Every mom’s worst nightmare.

I think Colleen’s story stayed with me because it’s so reminiscent of my own, and of the stories of many of my friends. Our mothers weren’t negligent or intentionally tight-lipped. Their own mothers were not forthcoming with information; they had no model for communicating sensitive topics.

My own story ran something like this:

I notice that I might be dying. 


Mom enters the room, spots the issue. Is nonchalant. “Oh, weird, I had a feeling this was going to happen today.” 

I was stunned. She KNEW this was going to happen TODAY? Wait. She knew this was going to happen…AT ALL???

It’s a funny memory now, and (thanks to late night college study sessions) I know it’s very typical of the women in my generation.

During a babysitting gig in my late teens, I was shocked to discover that my nine year old charge knew about tampons. A Tampax box lay on the counter in the bathroom. I stood in the doorway, deciding whether I should put it in a drawer or leave it for her mother to handle, when she bounced down the hall. “Hey, do you know about these?” She grabbed the box and waved it in front of me. “They’re so cool!”

Turns out, they’d arrived in the mail as part of a sample package. Her mom let her put one in a bowl of water to see how it worked. She had just enough information to keep her from concern when the time came. I decided, at age 19, if a daughter ever appeared in my life, she’d get the facts ahead of time.

With our girl, it’s a little bit touchy. She is two years older than many of her classmates, so she needs information they may not yet have. She likes attention and has…over-shared…on occasion. This creates a concern that whatever I explain may be transferred to her classmates and I may receive calls from irate parents. However, we’re getting down to the wire.

Tonight, I heard a panicked, “MOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM! I need you!” and thought I missed the opportunity. Turns out, she was wigged out by something else entirely.

After allaying her fears about a minor issue, I took a deep breath. She beat me to it.

“So. Remember when you told me about periods?” (We had a high-level, preliminary briefing about a month ago.)

I nodded. “Well,” she said, “what happens if I get it in school?”  So began an hour-long explanation of all things female.

We soaked a couple of feminine items. She declared tampons “disgusting” and never plans to use one. “Just wait until you’re the only one sitting on the beach, sister. Things will change,” I thought, but did not say.

The experiment was more interesting than I expected. After soaking an ultra-thin pad with water to about six times the normal size, we tore it open to examine the contents.

I gave her a little bag with a couple pads as a “school emergency” kit. I promised to talk with her teacher. Her code to the teacher is, “I need to go to the bathroom. Private emergency.” She was concerned the time might come on a day when (horrors) a male substitute might be overseeing the class, so we practiced a role play situation.

She: “I have to go to the bathroom. It’s an emergency.”

Me (as male teacher): “You just came back from the bathroom. Sit down.”

She: “I need to go to the nurse.”

Me: “What for?”

She: “I have a private emergency and I need to call my mom.”

Me: “What’s the emergency? I need to know before I send you.”

She: “A private emergency. I need to call my mom.”

Me: “Ok.”

I doubt that a sub would give her a hard time, especially after hearing the words “private,” “emergency” and “mom” all in the same sentence, but she felt better after “winning” in the worst-case scenario.

During the last few months, she’s been increasing her level of defiance; therefore, enjoying her company can be difficult. Odd topic though it was, drowning sanitary products provided an hour of bonding at a much deeper level than normal. And (a bit proud of this) I was able to use technical terms like “uterus” without flinching. Much.

She’s now prepared for The Event. Whether the rest of us are prepared for the teen angst and hormonal mood swings these changes can bring remains to be seen.

She had some good questions, like, “if I’m not going to have a baby now, why do I have to get it?” and, “if you shouldn’t have a baby, why do you have it?” I’m pretty curious to know the answers, myself, but hopefully I have many years before I get to ask God about it.

So, we’re good for a while. I’m steeling myself for the Big Talk. Kids are already starting to make comments at school (mine relay them), so I know it’s coming. We have a great elementary school, and the counselor already informed me I can review the Family Life information and opt them out if I prefer. They’re sticking to “how puppies are made” this year, so we have a little reprieve.

And, since I fielded this one, maybe I can pass the next one on to Hubby. Heh heh.


Did you have a Colleen Quinn moment, or were you fully prepped? Any creative ideas for communicating/reinforcing information?

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Posted on October 26, 2015, in Adoption, Parent, parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I had an awful experience and of course I got it while I was at school and didn’t have any pad or idea what to do.
    And tampons freaked me out and I never ever used one 🙂


  2. I think you handled this wonderfully! I was prepared and so were my daughters! And my daughters had the exact same question, WHY, if I am not going to have babies now??? And yes I am waiting to ask God that question to 🙂 I mean really think of the teen pregnacies that could be avoided?? GL to you all as she approaches closer to that day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You handled this brilliantly, by the way – perfect balance of info and not overloading her.
    What a shame so many women have such traumatic memories about this. My mum was (freakishly) open about such things – maybe a bit too much, actually 🙂 But that was precisely because her mum had been so awful. And my step mother came from an Irish Catholic background and her mother really linked periods and sin, so she had a dreadful time. I have a son – no girls – but, I’ve still tried to give him the basics and he’s always seen my tampons around. I don’t want him to be the kind of guy totally thrown by a girlfriend having periods.
    Half the worlds’ population do it once a month – we need the process to create human life. Why do we all still have to get so weird about it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know, right? So funny. Yes, I plan to prepare our boy when the time comes. Right now is NOT the time, ha. He’d totally be going to school and asking all his friends if they know that “girls bleed but don’t die; they must be monsters” or some such craziness. 🙂 It’s only funny because it hasn’t happened yet…maybe I’ll explain it when he’s 30…

      Liked by 1 person

      • The timings’s tricky – to arm them early and risk scaring the pants off them. Or to leave it later and risk them hearing nonesense from their friends. Fortunately, my son has been just curious enough to ask certain questions ahead of time and I’ve tried to be honest when he’s asked – with a few exceptions I thought might unsettle him too much. I guess as long as your son knows by the time he gets his first girlfriend, he’ll be fine 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hubby says we spend the first half of our lives getting messed up by our parents’ attempts at informing us about such topics, and spend the second half messing up our kids trying to inform them… hahaha

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s a tightrope we’re walking, alright. There’s an English poet called Philip Larkin who wrote a poem called ‘This be the Verse’, more usually known by its first line – which has a good old big swear in it. It’s a humorous – if rather cynical – view of parenting. I think Larkin had a rather unhappy childhood … 🙂


  4. Yikes. Thanks to a school film I knew what to expect. I was 13. I went to her and said, “Mom, I think I have started my period.” She freaked out. She took me to her bathroom, pushed me in, said, “There’s stuff under the sink,” and closed the door behind her. I never felt so all alone. Sigh. We have never spoken about “female things” since.
    My daughters were armed! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • So funny how people react, isn’t it? 🙂 Can you imagine if they did that when women get pregnant? “Whoa. Yeah, that’s going to come out soon. Good luck with that.” ha ha


  5. This made me remember my Mom’s story, which was so different from my own story, as her daughter. My Mom knew nothing, and when it happened, she was scared. She spoke to her Mom, who threw her a pad and said simply, “That will happen every month.”

    My Mom made sure I knew EVERYTHING there was to know, so when it FINALLY happened (I was much later than the other girls at 15), I was so excited, I went calling my Mom and brandishing the underwear joyously! I was a woman! I was ready to proclaim it from the rooftops! 😉
    Haha! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW. Just wow. “That will happen every month.” Yikes. So funny that you were excited about it– what a great experience. Maybe I need to try that attitude each month instead of getting cranky, ha ha.


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