Coming of Age

Junk mail rarely catches my eye, but this ditty did the trick. With vibrant colors, sassy doodles and an attached sample, this tri-fold ad was clearly targeted to mothers of Tweens, courtesy of Kotex. (Is it just me or do certain words transport you back to junior high and make you want to cry a little?)

While I was envisioning a year of cupcakes, Shrinky Dinks and sparkly nail polish with our almost 11-year-old, marketers were homing in.

Here’s what the ad said: “Girls are getting their periods younger than ever. Some girls get their periods as young as 8.”

The poor babes! From Play-Doh to pads. “Don’t procrastinate! Pick your day now for ‘the talk,’ and put it on your calendar so you stick to it!”

I had beautiful intentions of being candid and sharing age-appropriate wisdom. It would be naturally woven over time. No awkwardness. Just warm fuzzies of closeness.

That’s how it was supposed to go.

Here’s what actually went down:

Age 4 – Boys and girls bathe separately because God made you differently. (sigh) The children’s bedtime routine just became exponentially longer.
Age 5 – Anatomy lesson with accurate naming of body parts. Awkwardness has crept in.
Age 6 – Coloring, swinging and learning to read. Time is on our side (i.e., avoidance)!
Age 7 – Personal space, privacy and modesty issues addressed (“Wear shorts under your dresses.”).
Age 8 – Pregnancy abounds in moms all around. “Where do babies come from?” “It takes a cell from the mom and a cell from the dad.” Phew, simpler than expected.
Age 9 – “There’s something special that happens each month when you’re becoming a
young woman. It’s called…your period. (Insert loving description of a typical monthly experience.)” This was the year that our warm fuzzies froze. My sweet daughter’s reaction went something like this: “What?!?!? Mom, that is so gross! Why did you have to tell me that? Yuck! Blech! Aaaack! Don’t ever tell me about that again! That is the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard!” With hands over her ears and eyes squeezed shut, she pretended our conversation never happened.
Age 10 – Nothing. Nada. Denial is sweet, and we’ve both been quite happy this way. In my defense, I did skillfully purchase three or four books on the subject of womanhood. I also bought one or two for her.

“She’s ready! ARE YOU?”
No! No, I’m not. I think that’s quite clear now.

“Having the talk can be nerve-wracking, but we’ll guide you every step of the way. With a little planning, the talk will be a breeze!”

Deep breath. Kotex is here to help with vibrant new patterns, tips, tools and even a Period Party on Facebook. That’s right. No longer is a first period something to endure, it’s a cause for celebration! On the internet.

I don’t know about all of you, but the very last thing I wanted to do during my first period was to admit it had happened and be jovial about it with others. To be fair, I do have a friend whose parents hosted a Period Party and invited the boy who is now her husband. They should win a prize. Did I mention the valuable Facebook prizes? Evidently, every girl dreams of winning a combo pack.

There are no excuses for postponing the inevitable conversation. If 11 is the new 15, then now is the time to be like the brochure’s photo—mom and daughter duo sitting shoulder-to-shoulder eating pizza, distinct twinkles in their eyes. They’ve just had the talk and now they’re having a party.

Age 11 – “You’re growing up and that’s exciting! Some things will be awesome and some will be dreadful. You’re not alone; I’m here for you always. If you promise not to surf the internet for advice, I promise not to throw you a Period Party.”