Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Many women remember their first period.  I know, I’ve asked a lot of them.  Mind you, I don’t ask complete strangers…at least I don’t accost people in dressing rooms or on the bus.  Many women were able to tell me how old they were and what they were doing that day.  Some stories are traumatic, “I thought I was dying,” and some are blasé, “I knew what was going on and it wasn’t a big deal.”  I fall somewhere in the middle; it was memorable but not a big deal. 

However, it wasn’t long before I started to feel like my period was more of a curse than a blessing; cramps, pads vs. tampons, no white pants, etc.  The word “coverage” no longer had anything to do with sports.  There was no one factor that lead me down the Cursed path; life, education (or lack of anything but one point of view), and the attitudes of those around me all had an impact.  I continued down that path until just a couple years ago.

            My eldest daughter was coming to an age that made me realize I had to figure out how to describe body changes…even the reason for them. *sigh* Well, the latter part of that is a discussion for another day.  For today we will stick with maturing bodies. 

            I wanted a curriculum set because I am not really into reinventing the wheel if I don’t have to.   It took some looking around, some curriculums try to tackle too much and others just cover one particular aspect.  The information had to be Bible-based.  There are some good resources put out by American Girl, but they were too big on self-esteem and not big enough on a body created by God for a purpose.  Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel…(no, I’m not getting paid for this) I found what I was looking for; all the body changes with none of the, ahem, more mature topics.

            A group class was definitely a plus for this topic.  Perhaps I was lucky but we had a wonderful range of ethnicities, ages, and family traditions.  I confess that I tweaked just the tiniest bit at the curriculum.  If you ever watch me cook, I just can not leave a recipe well enough alone.  We had a ball!  And best of all, the girls were excited to some day get their period.  It is the solemn truth that every mom in that class came up to me at some point to say how much they were enjoying the material and shared something new they had learned from the class.  We scrapbooked about the uterus.  Can you get more girlie than that?

            What I really appreciated, as the teacher, was that each girl sat next to her mom.  If a young girl had a question she was encouraged to ask her mom first and then they could both ask me if mom decided it was ok.  This way some of the silly or simple questions got screened by mom and the girls got into the habit of asking their mom instead of an “expert.” 

            Another great aspect was the conversations the moms had while the daughters were listening. There were several opportunities to share stories about our first periods, shaving, buying our first bra, and other coming of age stuff.  My daughter got to hear other moms give tips and advice instead of the “mom lecture” that our daughters can smell coming from a mile away and just makes everyone feel uncomfortable.  There were certainly lots of reminders to the girls that information shared in the class was only to be talked about with other members of the class, and preferably with mom first.

            While the birds and the bees were not discussed we did watch a video that talked about the intricate details that all have to click into place within her body in order for conception to occur.  The goal wasn’t to inform the girls how pregnancy occurs so much as it was to convey why they had a menstrual cycle and how absolutely detailed and complicated God was in designing their bodies. I did check with the moms before showing the video to make sure all were comfortable with the potential questions they might get asked at home.  They all agreed and I think the moms actually got more out of the video then the girls did.

            We set up the class to run for four Thursday evenings in a row.  There was a sign up for snacks.  We had a menstrual party.  Too bad I couldn’t have had it in a red tent.

Next week, what do our daughters need to hear from us about their menstrual cycle?