If you were brave enough to actually click the link and get this far, you must be the mother of a pre-teen daughter.
If you are a dude who clicked on this headline thinking this is would be a lesson in punctuation, I am going to say “menstruation” and lose you right…about….NOW.
Ladies, are you still with me? Good. So, let’s talk tweens and periods.
I know this is an edgy topic but, we’ve all “been there,” yes? The moment in life when Mother Nature first lets our young adolescent bodies know that it’s time for our Monthly Gift. This “gift” is called many code names and phrases including “a visit from Aunt Flo,” “The Mighty Red River,” and “Leak Week.” In my house, it’s called “shark week” as in “Oh Gawd. It’s Shark Week AGAIN!”
I won’t go unto the uber-gory details, but this “monthly gift” oftentimes doesn’t feel like one. It’s also hard to educate our daughters in a positive way about this healthy part of growing up when you really want to share that it is an annoying, messy, style-cramping (emphasis on the “cramping”) inconvenience that occurs like clockwork every month until you’re at least 50.
But now that the hypothetical shoe is on the other foot, I am determined to arm my tween with everything she needs to know about this important shift in life. I am also grateful as to how many resources are available these days, and how that vastly differs from when I was her age.
Let’s talk Tweens and Periods | The Dreaded Pamphlet:
Then: Remember the trifold pamphlet you received from the school nurse that explained “the changes about to occur in your body?” I remember sitting in a classroom filled with 20+ other mortified 6th grade girls learning about the dreaded menstrual cycle. I think 99% of us were too scared and embarrassed to ask even one question and the black, white and red (how fitting) hand-out we trotted home with wasn’t a ton of help either.
Now: Thank goodness there are amazing websites and books available to our daughters on this topic. My tween has taken great comfort in reading books like The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls and Period, A Girl’s Guide. There’s also cool websites like A Mighty Girl and DiscoveryGirls.com that help take the apprehension and fear out of this natural body change for tweens and teens. Of course, there’s nothing like learning about life from dear old mom and these sites are perfect or parents to glean talking points from as well.
Period Care | Then and Now
Period Care Then: Remember our version of pads “back in the day?” They were the size of canoes, looked like something a family of mice would use for a sleepover and had to be fastened to our under-grunders with safety pins. And gawd help you if your safety pin malfunctioned in the middle of class and you were abruptly jabbed out of your science-induced-coma.
Period Care Now: The maxi-pad aisle is almost longer than the cereal aisle (I know, I checked) and the variety of shapes, sizes, thickness, odor-blocking and even wrapper colors is mind-blowing. You can even get period protection in the form of pseudo-underwear too. Pads nowadays even have wings like our flow could potentially take flight at any moment.
Note: Apparently there’s also “period-proof underwear” as well. I don’t know if they are armor-plated or what, but for $39.99 per pair, I don’t intend to find out.
Side Note: I did, however, notice that the color of the pad is has remained unchanged. Seriously now, does it have to be WHITE? Do we really need to “see” what’s happening “down there?” Why can’t they make black or navy blue ones?
Meds Then: I don’t recall there being any cramping/flow/cycle meds “back in the day.” My mom’s cure for menstrual cramps and crabby moods was a hot water bottle and stern, “Go back to your room until your attitude improves.”
Meds Now: Interesting and colorful period-related meds line pharmacy and grocery store shelves; all promising go do magical things like relieving pain, reduce bloating, flush out retained water and fix crappy moods (though I highly recommend more natural methods, like chocolate and wine). The selection of “help me, I’m flowing” medications is considerable and from what I understand, pretty effective. I highly recommend consulting your pediatrician before giving any of these OTC meds to your tween. Personally, I will remain unimpressed with these advances in modern medicine until drug companies can either devise a pill that could get your period over in one gigantic, extended trip to the biffy, or one that allows men to REALLY feel our pain and see why we are so strinkin’ crabby during Shark Week. Now THAT, would be something.
Laugh or Go Nuts, Mama
All joking aside…actually, let’s stay on the joking because we might as well laugh about this as much as possible. Though not always the “most fun” time of the month (my husband swears Shark Week is why he built a cabin in woods to retreat to. I think he is over-reacting), the monthly arrival of Aunt Flo is a fact of life. I think we, as moms, need to do our best to teach our daughters to embrace the period, deal with it and never let anyone make them feel guilty about having one.
And as they get older, they will understand the benefits of chocolate and wine therapy and all will be well in the World of the Period.