Dads of Girls Must Deal With Puberty. Period.


photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

And now … a note about puberty.

It came and went – twice – in my family. Two daughters down, one to go. No one has been that moody through it. Not even me. Not even as a the odd man out.

I can talk to my daughters about important things. I can tell them about a father who dies when you’re in your 30s or a cousin who dies when you’re 6. I can tell them about moving three time zones from the only home you’ve ever known, as a teenager.

But for some things … only a mother’s wisdom will do.

Jen from Driftwood Gardens blog recently wrote about impending puberty. In my family, talk about deodorant and changing bodies and feminine hygiene products is no big deal.

I think life conditions dads to fear it before we understand it. Maybe instead of understanding it. At Centennial Elementary School, they hoarded we boys one way, girls another. Then they taught us about our changing bodies. There was no overlap.

photo credit: cavale via photopin cc
photo credit: cavale via photopin cc

Only giggles, and stories our older siblings or cousins told us, or things we learned on cable TV.

Did you know this? Until I was a teenager – a late teenager – I didn’t know the difference between a pantiliner and a tampon. Anything that a girl had to use in her underwear, in my book, was a tampon. It was universal as Kleenex and Xerox to me.

There’s still much I don’t understand.

Maybe this is also supposed to be on a “need to know” basis. I have received texts at that time of month for my oldest that read:

“BRING ME SOMETHING GREASY HOME FOR LUNCH AND BRING IT NOW!”

with the follow up,

“MAKE THAT TWO – YOUR OTHER DAUGHTER’S GOT HER PERIOD TOO!”

I am a good soldier. Cheeseburgers, all around. When period synchronize, don’t ask questions. You comply, and you retreat. You go above and beyond, and bring home not shakes, but ingredients for root beer floats.

photo credit: txcrew via photopin cc
photo credit: txcrew via photopin cc

Tall, junked-up-with-chocolate-syrup root beer floats.

All this is reality. All this, also, plays into the stereotype of the woman swept aloft by a cocktail of hormones. Reality lays somewhere else. We men will blame any outburst on a woman’s time of month.

We joke – even Elise and me – about a female president of any nation, who will declare war once a month. Then she’ll rescind the attack two days later with a tearful “I’m sorry! Your country is SO PRETTY! CAN WE JUST BE FRIENDS??

It’s best not to make a big deal of it.

many months pass and I don’t notice my daughters’ time of month. I don’t want them to feel embarrassed if they are hormonal. We men shouldn’t make this a “girl thing.”

Let’s just all get along. Know the difference, guys, between a maxipad and a pantiliner. The scented and unscented. That when you get a text for pantiliners during the day, after work is just fine timing.

When you get a text for tampons during the day, you’d better get them at lunch. And include a bag of M&Ms.

And it helps when I get a cheeseburger for myself, too.

puberty quote

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50 thoughts on “Dads of Girls Must Deal With Puberty. Period.

  1. I grew up in a pretty reserved and conservative family, so I don’t think I’ve ever talked to my dad about tampons… When I started seriously dating/got married, it took some time before I could speak openly about it with my husband. But it’s all good now. He knows which kind of Reece’s to get me, and he has strategically placed Ibuprofen bottles around the house. 🙂

    1. There are days I stand before the wall of feminine hygiene products and feel like I’d have a better time translating the Dead Sea Scrolls than finding the right product.

      Now, that’s a man with a plan. Preemptive strikes, strategic placement. Good on you, mate.

  2. I really feel for my husband when the time comes that both of his daughters and his wife are hormonal at the same time! Actually, I’m not sure which is worse. Three of us ragin’ at the same time, or space out over the course of a month. Both sound pretty awful to me!

    1. It’s like a hurricane Nicole – a category 3 could cause more damage, but even a category 1 can devastate if you don’t board up your windows properly.

      We men have this. We don’t survive natural selection by wrestling sabre-toothed tigers and fighting the Byzantine wars and not come out armed for PMS.

  3. I so have to let Kevin read this as he has knows it is coming someday and maybe this will prepare him for the inevitable. We are minus one girl on you, but still should be interesting if nothing else when our girls go through puberty. Again poor Kevin in a house full of girls. Enough said!!

    1. It’s not Sunday, Bloody Sunday by any means. One girl is enough cause to batten down the hatches, but I’m here to say I’m still standing.

      Many men before us have survived … and many more will follow in our chocolate-bar-buying footsteps.

  4. I appreciate your good attitude towards the inevitable. My son is aware that if I say it is cheeseburger night then that’s it, no other option. It’s an unspoken acknowledgement that Mommy is iron-depleted at that point 😀

    1. If a man must be tossed into a volcano, the least he can do is do so with dignity. I think it’s easier for us to maintain than you might think. Iron depletion in a mama is nothing to take lightly, either. Your son gets it.

  5. I grew up with my mom and two brothers – it wasn’t until I began dating that I learned the mystery of the month thing. Now I have a wife and a daughter and I teach seventh grade – about once a month there is a young girl who comes to me and says she has to go the the washroom and never comes back – I always understand. My daughter hasn’t hit the ‘time’ yet but she will…. So much has changed about what we can talk about and what we should talk about … Thanks for a light hearted (but serious) topic to begin the week.

    1. It’s still a bit of a mystery, isn’t it Clay? I remember teachers allowing girls to go to the bathroom in class after denying a boy, when the girl walked up timidly with her purse clutched under an arm.

      I’m glad my girls aren’t squeamish about this stuff with me. I find it tougher to deal with them telling me which guys they think are ‘hot.’

      1. Once upon a time I ran into my father on the stairs. I must have had that manic, ‘I hate every member of the male species’ look in my eye, because my father plastered himself against the railing and said without preamble, “On behalf of all males, I apologize.” Quite possibly the wisest words he ever said 😉

      2. We men are programmed to say that, but only in a predicament of pending peril. “I’m sorry” is a good start, and get’s a girl’s/woman’s attention, but we have to be careful or they’ll figure out we’re using those words not to atone for our mishaps, but as a raw steak thrown to a tiger so we can make a speedy escape.

  6. As the mother of two boys I didn’t get a pass on the hormonal stuff; I don’t think one of my sons smiled for his entire 14th year! I also didn’t get a pass on the birds and bees stuff either. Both boys came to me with their questions and my husband gladly passed off “the talk” for me to handle!

    1. Boys are a whole different test tube of hormones, aren’t they? I’ve gotten the pass twice on birds and bees talk, which is probably best – I learned from sneak peeks at the Playboy channel and stolen issues of Penthouse.

      I wasn’t sure recently how much Grace knew at age 9. She saw turtles mating. “What are they doing, dad?” “um,” I stammered, “he’s just hitching a ride. Or maybe it’s a fight.”

      Minutes later, a bird darted by, another bird in hot pursuit. “Are they mating, dad?” she asked. “Not yet,” I said. “But if she puts on the brakes midair, she’ll have no choice.”

  7. You have handled this well! It’s a fact of life, nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

    Being raised by a single dad, I was given a book. I assume it was about the birds and the bees, puberty… I didn’t read it, just told my dad I did and didn’t have any questions. I figured it all out on my own just fine, but your girls are lucky to have that kind of open relationship with you.

    Will be an intersting ride when all 3 end up on the same cycle. Duck and cover; and bring on the chocolate! That’s my best advice.

    1. just rolling with the changes, Cheryl. I’m glad they see it that way, too.

      I think we even had coloring books for sex ed. Do you remember anything about your book?

      When all three are armed and ready, I’ll have already earned all my stripes, Cheryl. I’ll be a general by then. (My tours of duty as a girls coach also give me tenure).

      1. I don’t remember anything about the book. I think I blocked most parts of that embarrassing experience from my mind.

        I just heard, “A beautiful experience between a man and a woman…” and I went into the fetal position in my mind.

        Definitely earning your stripes!

      2. I thought of telling Grace that day at the lake when she asked about one turtle mounted on another, “when a boy turtle and a girl turtle love each other … “

  8. My husband is dreading this moment and this whole topic. My girls are 3 and 6, so we have a while to go…but he has already claimed his own bathroom! 🙂 Away from the 3 of us!

    1. There’s nothing to dread – it just keeps us dads alert. It won’t be long before the deodorant and training bra era starts for you guys.

      Silly man. Doesn’t he know a dad bathroom is the first casualty of war? He’ll have Noxema, hair straighteners and a box of Tampax invading the shelves at some point.

  9. Dang – you are a good dad!!! Neither of my parents ever once catered to me – I always just had to “suck it up” so I did:) I like to think that if I had girls I would be far more understanding!!!

  10. Well I always want a cheeseburger and M&Ms.
    I have to somewhat brag here because with this stuff and even with pregnancies, you couldn’t tell by my mood. I didn’t have mood swings without really good reason. Even now, I don’t crave chocolate, or any differently than I do otherwise..which is every day.
    Now my two sisters? And when we were all three teenagers? Let’s just say that a family friend nicknamed us, “Nice, Medium and.. (rhymes with witch).”
    Guess which one I was.
    So of course with Scarlet in my life.. I think, “Well maybe she’ll be like me and always pretty unaffected by hormones” Or maybe she’ll be like my sisters, in which case I may run away.

    1. Shouldn’t a restaurant offer a cheeseburger/M&M combo? So you have non-graying hair *and* aversion to hormonal swings? You could have been a bounty hunter.

      There are no days (or weeks) you crave cookies more than the other days (or weeks)?

      It all depends on where medium falls on the spectrum. That’s the focal point to see where nice and, um, glitch fall.

      There has to be some sort of blood test or genetic indicator of whose hormone tolerance she will inherit.

  11. First of all, thanks so much for the shout out. Your wife and daughters are lucky to have you. Not only are you sensitive and compassionate to the needs of all your girls, you have a great sense of humor too!

  12. Aaawwww, include a bag of M&Ms – you just get it! 🙂
    I will need to teach C this when the time comes. Unless he hears about the light blue string from his 6 yo buddy. Cause he asked his mom what that was all about, hahaha!

    1. Couldn’t hurt, right? And C might teach you a thing or two before all is said and done. I think we all really need to know the answer to the light blue string!

      Sounds like great post material to me.

  13. I’ve always thought you were a good dad, but now I know you are a great dad! That your daughters can be so open with you is fantastic – you rock, Eli!

    1. I was trying to keep it a secret and all Letizia. They make you pay in a higher tax bracket if they find out you’ve been doing greatly dad things instead of just the goodly.

  14. For something so natural it’s always amazed me that many people are so shy about periods, tampons, pads etc. I do feel for you though Mate with all the feminine vibes around the house. It kinda makes you humble when you think about all that hormonal activity. If only they could harness it and use it for good.

    1. It’s just not the dinner-party conversation fare, isn’t it mate? I can navigate amongst these feminine vibes – bring ’em on. we men have braved this world since we were cro magnons.

      Hormonal steam could burn every lightbulb and waffle maker in the world all at once, mate. You know it.

      1. TV ads are right up there (no pun intended) with tampon and napkin ads. You don’t have to have the conversation at the table Mate, when your Mum’s thrown your dinner on a plate and your sister try’s to stab you with a kitchen fork you have a fair idea what’s going on. If it was harnessed we wouldn’t need power stations. Women have it tough, putting up with men and periods.

  15. A dad talking about puberty and tampons…ya gotta love it! My husband just gets that weird look on his face turns around, muttering something about going to get the car washed. I’ve been through it a couple of times with the older girls so I’m a seasoned veteran. I learned with my youngest and last daughter not to wait until the storm hits and talk to her about it now. Part of my reasoning is when she was entering middle school, a much different environment than elementary, I wanted her to hear things from me, not fellow middle schoolers who may or may not have it right (aye, aye, aye!!). I pretty much keep the floor open on Q&A. Now with my son getting older, I’m not sure how to deal with that so I think dear old dad is just gonna have to skip the car wash!

    1. All in a day’s work, Sandy. Sometimes you have to face it head on; I do hate that text while I’m at the grocery store, though, asking for pads.

      I remember classmates who got that first monthly visit while they were at school – I can’t imagine. Grace will have been around it her whole life when she gets there.

      Dear old dad should take the son to the car wash for these convos. I find that when my daughter is sitting next to me in the car, the conversation is easier, no matter what the topic.

  16. I cannot imagine the day both my daughters “synch”. Honestly, it’s nothing but drama now and they are only 7 and 4. It’s like they don’t even pass gas – they just hold it all in and it comes out as drama.
    Add hormones? Forget their father, I may move out.
    But I do agree with female world leaders. No war; just some really intense negotiations every 28-30 days. 🙂

    1. It’s like when a volcano meets a tornado, as Eminem says. It’s actually not all that bad – they lay around and want greasy food. I know people who do that all month.

      I know guys who do that all month.

      I’ve coached girls teams, raised three daughters, and worked in places that are 3:1 girls to boys. If I can’t handle hormones by now …

      Someone once said I was 30% girl anyway, and meant it as a compliment.

      I wonder if there’s ever been a study on how women’s soccer teams or WNBA squads fare when they “synch.”

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