A few months ago I decided to buy gender appropriate books for both Maddux and Mia that would enlighten them about the kinds of body and emotional changes they can expect in the coming years. In all honesty, I did this because I was too chicken shit to have a conversation with them about it.
(Whew, now that it is officially off of my chest, and I can proceed with the delusion I am a good mom).
When it came to puberty and my three older sons, the only acknowledgement I made was [again] a book I bought and gave to Nick when he was a preteen. He (ceremoniously) passed it on to Allen-Michael at age thirteen, who then did the same for Brigham.
Somehow I got through the baby talk with the older boys. For whatever reason this was easier for me because I was pregnant a few times while the older three were growing up and it just felt more natural to talk about it.
I asked Tom if he had any recollection of conversations with any of the older boys on the topic of puberty…he mumbled something and then made a comment about sharing a porn collection…
(I am going to take that as a big, fat “No Ma’am”).
However, having the “this is how your body is going to change” talk and the “this is where you really came from” talk are two separate issues and I truly do not remember having had any conversations with the older three boys specifically about puberty.
As with all aspects of my parenting journey, I am trying to learn from the past and improve. What else can I do but admit my shortcomings and move on, right?
(My “good mom” feeling is quickly evaporating…)
Having a daughter after four boys has been interesting since day one. My recent book purchasing venture was really a direct result of wanting Mia to have accurate information rather than getting half truths from friends about puberty and her body.
Even though it may sound a bit early for an eight year old, someone recommended an American Girl book that was really well written and provided much more than just menstrual cycle information.
(Side note: I just cringed when I typed “menstrual”. What is wrong with me?! I think it is just that a part of me wants to keep my daughter in the dark and not have to tell her about the amazing monthly world she cannot escape…)
I did the responsible thing and read a chapter aloud each night with her. I kept it in my room so she didn’t share the information with her friends because I think every family should approach these “delicate” issues when they see fit. We talked about keeping the information just between us for now. Overall, I was proud of how she handled the information…and proud of myself for being open and making eye contact.
I decided to get Maddux an updated version of the “boy” book at the same time since the original book I purchased for Nick was more than a decade old. Who knows how much has changed in that department since its publication in 2000, right? I am not as proud to say he found it in the car on the way home from Barnes and Noble and after first laughing at me (“Oh my Gosh Mom, REALLY?! Why would I want a book like this?????)
I later found him nose deep in the thing, he actually put down his beloved chapter book for three nights until he got through the entire puberty book!
And although I didn’t feel brave enough to delve too deep, I did ask him if he had any questions when he was done and if he’d found the information useful. Maddux said he did not have any questions, and refused to make eye contact. I told him some of the information might not make sense right now (at age 10) but, he could always go back to the book in the future if he needed to.
I have no idea when I’ll be ready to give them the “this is how you were conceived” discussion. But I am sure my desire to be a parent who is approachable, is willing to talk about “hard things” and has a strong desire for them to have the facts, I will figure it out.
Or I’ll send them to their older brothers for that education….