The Camp Gyno.
If you went to summer camp, you knew her (and if you didn’t, you should check out this ad that’s been getting lots of reactions from girls and their moms).
The Camp Gyno wasn’t a doctor or the camp nurse; she didn’t even have a medical degree. She was the girl who got her period before anyone else and therefore she knew EVERYTHING there was to know about getting your period.
We were all in awe of her pubescent womanliness. She could swallow two painkillers without a sip of lemonade, she wielded tampons like a samurai warrior and she had mastered the art of ducking out of “swim” to work on her tan.
She was a goddess.
And we were grateful to have her because it meant not having to ask your mother embarrassing questions.
But now that I’m the mom of a 13-year-old girl, I want my daughter to come to me with her questions. I would like her to speak openly with me about what’s happening to her body and feel confident that I won’t humiliate her. At least, not intentionally.
Unfortunately, finding a comfort zone talking about “periods” with your daughter can be tricky. As moms, it’s our responsibility to educate our girls and prepare them for the inevitable. But a crossed boundary, a verbal misstep, even the smallest recognition that this is a big moment for us, too, can easily lead to cries of, “Stop!” “No more!” and “MOMMMM!!! THAT'S SOOOOO EMBARRASSING!”
Think back to when you first started getting your period - was there anything worse than having your mother stroke your head and say, “Awww…you’re a woman now!” Ugh. As if you weren’t cranky enough already.
So to help ensure you don’t instantly sever those lines of communication when it’s your daughter’s turn, I asked a group of 13-year-old girls to help me compile a list of cringe-worthy things moms should absolutely not do or say, under any circumstances. Ever.
1) Do not call all of the relatives to say, “Guess what?! Rebecca’s a woman now!”
2) Do not say, “But you’re still so young! Do you even have hair down there?”
3) Do not exclaim, “Congratulations! Now you can bleed for five days straight without dying!” (I thought this was funny. I was informed it is not.)
4) Do not slap your daughter across the face. While this is actually a tradition in some cultures it is really just unpleasant. Isn’t getting your period enough of a shock?
5) If your daughter calls from a sleepover at a friend’s house saying she got her period and needs some pads, do NOT deliver a huge bag overflowing with a wide variety of protection options. One girl’s mom did this, and her friend’s older brother answered the door to receive the “package.”
6) Do not alert your daughter’s teacher in front of the whole class that she (or worse…HE) needs to let your daughter go to the bathroom if she asks because she has her period.
7) Do not draw pictures of a uterus to explain the process. They’ve already seen it all in health class. Watching you draw just feels like a weird game of Pictionary.
What did I learn from these girls’ lessons? Just this: treat your daughter with the same respect and privacy you would any other grown-up and she will reward you with trust.
Sarah Maizes is the founder of MommyLITEonline.com, a parenting humor site, and the author of “Got Milf? The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan.” She is a freelance writer, speaker, comedian and mother of three. Follow her antics on Facebook and on Twitter @SarahMaizes.