Thursday, February 28, 2013

Body Talk

So Caroline is 9.  NINE.  Do you know what that means?  It means that there are girls in her class that are on the verge of puberty.  There are girls in her class wearing their first bras, are getting taller, and don't look as much like children anymore.  My mom said that in the clinic she works in that at age 9 they start asking the parents of their 9 year old patients if the girl has started her period because that is now an age where they are starting to see more girls get their first period.  Yup. NINE!

I remember I was in fifth grade when our school nurse had the talk with us but my mom talked to me about it earlier in fourth grade.  She wanted me to be prepared should I hear other people talking about it even though she didn't think I was even close to puberty. (I wasn't.)

Anyway, recently Jason and I have had some concerns with Caroline as she is enters the tween years.  Nothing big but things like concern for her diet (she's not exactly into eating fruits and veggies) and her sleep habits (she still doesn't like to sleep).  Jason was talking to a guy at work about his pre-teen son and the concerns they were having with him and about how important diet, exercise, and sleep become in these years as their bodies begin to change.  He wondered how to talk to Caroline about it and shot me an email.  Interestingly enough, just a few days before some women on my online mom's board had been talking about ways to talk to your girls about puberty and the American Girl "Care and Keeping of You" books came up.  As soon as I read his email, I thought of these books and went right to Amazon.  The original AG book was published in 1998 and has sold millions of copies, but as luck would have it two new versions were about to be released - one for younger girls and one for older girls.  I placed my order!!

I was excited when it came but decided to read through it before giving it to Caroline.  I don't see the book as something I give her and just let her run with - instead it's a guide and gives more depth to the things we discuss.  In the book are great topics on diet, exercise, sleep, skin care, and hair care but it also delves into puberty with discussion about body hair, body odor, and of course, getting your period.

Since this wasn't a topic that we'd discussed before I knew that upon giving it to her, it was time.  I held onto it for a few days waiting for the right time.  Then one night earlier this week after I'd put the other two kids to bed, I gave it to her and she was SO excited.  First of all she loves all the American Girl publications.  She got the magazine for the first time over a month ago and loved the section on winter skin care and prided herself on how to wash her face and keep her hands softer. (She has sandpaper hands in the winter.)  So seeing this book was exciting for her. I opened the table of contents and I went through it with her - she couldn't wait to get her hands on it.  Then we got to the section called "Big Changes" and asked her if she had heard of what a "period" is.  She hadn't but I gave her an overview and she seemed very interested.  She asked some questions and I answered and then I told her that I when she gets to that section, we can talk more about it.  I told her that she is probably still a few years away but that girls in her class might start talking about it and I want her to be prepared.

She took it all really well and went to bed and stayed up way too late reading it.  Doh!  (So much for a healthy sleep habit that night.)  She knows that this book her her personal business and she feels very grownup for having it.  In the past few months, I've realized how important it is becoming for the two of us to really talk on a regular basis.  I want to make sure she knows she can tell me anything and ask me anything.  When I gave her the book, I told her that it important to her father and I that she knows that she's going to get the truth from us when it comes to sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, etc and that anything she hears from her friends might not always be that way and she can always check with us.

Anyway, I give this book two big thumbs up.  The illustrations are completely age appropriate and tasteful.  She has a few of the other AG books about friends and I can't wait to get her a few more in the months to come.  Now I wish there was a similar book for boys for Bryce in a year or two!


Katie said...

I might order that too. My mom had no "talks" with me, but I was a very late bloomer, so I had figured it out on my own... plus, I had older sisters. AM is the one that taught me everything I needed to know. I know I'll have to be the one for Emily. I can't believe Caroline is a tween.

Erika said...

One of the main reasons I wanted to talk to C about it was to try and get to her before girls in her class started talking about it and scaring her. 3rd grade seems so young but it only takes one girl to start the conversation. I remember getting "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" in 3rd grade and not having a clue what she was talking about!