Monday, November 8, 2010

Web and Flow

This is another one of those blog posts that requires a warning right up front: If you're one of those wussy men who can't handle the words "puberty" or "period" without having blood trickle from your ears or running away screaming, you should probably move along.

Of course, I've already said the words, I'm sure they're already fled the room.

I recently got an unexpected phone call from my very first ever boyfriend from the summer between 7th and 8th grades. It was really sweet and we laughed a lot remembering the past and catching up on the present, our kids, jobs, etc. Since we hung up, I've been mentally going back to that period (the other use for word, fellows) remembering every little thing or other. A lot of my childhood is a blur because we moved around so much. But that period (again, you're safe) when we lived in Middle-of-Nowhere, Nevada is pretty firmly fixed in my gray matter. Why? Puberty.

Here's where it starts getting ugly.

We moved to Nevada shortly after I began 6th grade. I was maybe 11 and a month. Something about the sagebrush and slots affected my hormones and puberty hit me like a ton of bricks, all in one afternoon. I'd already developed quite a bit in 5th grade, much to my horror. How do I remember it was in 5th grade? Oh, when your evil ex-nun school teacher loudly announces in the middle of your co-ed game of hopscotch "Suzanne, tell your mother that Miss Harris says it's time you start wearing a bra to school" you kind of remember that day. She'd be about 65 now, unless one of her former students has murdered her.

My family wasn't exactly the "let's talk about the facts of life" set, so when I was sitting in class that one November afternoon in 6th grade, my barely 11-year-old body doubled over in agony, the school nurse called my father and told him to pick me up: "She may have appendicitis." After lying down at home with a heating pad for two hours, it was suddenly well evident that I did indeed NOT have appendicitis. I was mortified. My mother was thrilled. I was a woman. "Let's call Grandma and tell her!"

*Now, I should explain a little something here. We were living in the outskirts of Reno, and Grandma, Grandpa and every other person we knew was back in Philadelphia. And we were living on a religious commune to boot. So there was a lot of praying over me during those 2 hours before the medical truth was revealed. Zealots lose their interest once they see you're not dying ~ just on the rag. (How many of you did I lose with that one?)*

So for some bizarre reason, I complied and called my grandmother back in Philadelphia and told her the "good" news. "Grandma...Mom wanted me to call you and tell you I just got my first period." I'll never forget her response. It was classic Grandma H. "That's WONDERFUL dear! Now, you don't have to tell me every month. This one should cover it."

So there you've got the background. Puberty hit me like a ton of bricks, all in one week. By that Friday, I think I had to start shaving my legs. Within a month, I was in an underwire. So by the time I hit 7th grade, let's just say I stood out even more from the other girls. My school picture is downright comical. Sitting behind an old fashioned desk, flag by my side, fake bookcase backdrop behind me...and all you really notice is a huge set of breasts on a mortified 12 year old girl. I out-racked some of the teachers. There was only one other kid in the entire school who'd been hit as hard and as early as I. He was in 8th grade, and had a full mustache. It was inevitable that we'd connect. And that summer we were inseparable.

I don't know what his folks had told or taught him about sex. I know my "knowledge" at that point was mostly that it would send me to hell. So there was a lot of innocent exploring and not-so-innocent "Oh, so that's what that does!" results that summer. Relax...we never did "anything" major really, but I did go farther with G. than I did with most boys in high school...And this is today's lesson folks: If all you tell your kids about sex is that it's wrong, hoping to curb their interest, well you'll get the opposite results. Guaranteed.

Half my friends have kids my older son's age, and we're all in the opposite end of the puberty boat now. Dealing with THEM dealing with puberty. Some of our kids have long crossed that bridge. One of my son's classmates has a mustache and sounds like Barry White. And others are years away. But we parents are all at the point where we've got to decide how far to take "the talk" (if we haven't already had it). I'm not saying we should start running out and stocking up on condoms and talking about the pill. But we can't be ostriches burying our heads in the sand and hoping they'll figure out their burgeoning bodies and urges on their own. No way in hell am I going to be a "Grandma" in my 40s. (Not thrilled about the prospect in my 50s either...or just the prospect of my 50s quite frankly).

Sex is awesome. It's right up there with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. And kids aren't stupid. All it takes is the first kid who's rounded the bases to tell all the others...and we're toast. I just hope that I'm being a good enough coach during spring training that my kid takes his sweet time and doesn't attempt to bat until he's completely ready to handle the outcome of the game.

Chuck Mangione's "Feels So Good"...first concert/date I went to that summer.

No comments: