In this post, I am participating
in the Silicon
Valley Moms Blog book club. We read "The Body Scoop for Girls" by Jennifer Ashton, M.D. The purpose of our book club is to share in the reading of books that will inspire blog posts and conversations; we do not review books. This book inspired me to think about having "The Talk" with my daughter.
I have a confession to make. I have talked with my daughter a lot about growing up. I've talked with her about where she might want to go to middle school/high school/college, what she might want to study, what kind of career she finds intersting, what it's like to raise kids, why nutrition and exercise are important, what a role model looks like...
... but I haven't talked with Petunia yet about the physical changes she's experiencing. She's only 9 years old; she started the school year at 4'5", and now she's 4'9". She's aware of breast development and the appearance of body hair because it's been happening to friends, but I don't think she knows what's coming next. I find the need to explain it all stressful, mostly because I fear I'll do it wrong. We had health class for these things back in my day; now, there is no class, and the parent must be the teacher. (I should note that I believe that my mother explained these things to me, too; I just remember health class more, probably because of the sheer embarrassment of it.)
So, I've been preparing for The Talk. Beyond not knowing about her forthcoming menstrual cycles, I'm pretty sure she doesn't know anything about sex, either. And it kind of all lumps together, doesn't it? What a talk it will be ... whenever we have it. I'm not going to lie; I've been hoping she brings it up. It's too hard to figure out where to start on my own.
It's likely that Petunia won't raise the subject before it is a pressing concern, though, so I hatched A Plan. I ordered a book: an American Girl book called "The Care and Keeping of You" -- a book that remains wrapped up and hidden because I ordered it blind and don't like it much. For starters, it's from American Girl -- the company that brought us the dolls with which she still plays. (I mean, ewww!) It's very youthfully designed, which led me to think it might be age-appropriate. Unfortunately, there are references in the book that I don't find appropriate for a 9 year-old, such as references to cutting and to eating disorders. I don't want her getting ideas -- just information. Basic information.
So it was with great eagerness that I signed up to review "The Body Scoop for Girls." By an ob-gyn who specializes in adolescent care, the book is surprisingly thick and rich, and it's definitely not overly "girlie" or youthful. But... it references even more stuff that I don't want my 9 y.o. to see, things like STD's and drugs in addition to cutting, eating disorders, etc.
I'm starting to realize that this is all stuff that I'll need to take on with my daughter, but I have to admit that I'm frustrated at how hard it is to find a book that doesn't have TMI -- at least, TMI for a 9 year-old.
What I want is a story that we can read together... I can lead in to the story with a tale of the changes that will soon be happening to her, and I can share how it came about with me. I can back it all up with pictures and information -- information that she can read and re-read until she's comfortable. Information about what she needs to know now, before Aunt Flo comes to visit. We can segue into how babies are made/sex soon after she's processed the first round of information.
I'll be ready to talk with her about all of the other stuff (eating disorders, cutting, prophylactics, STDs, etc.) in a few years, but not in fourth grade. She's just not ready for that yet, and neither am I.
In all likelihood, I'll photocopy pages from the Body Scoop book for her to reference, unless I come across something more appropriate in the meanwhile for my fourth grader... or unless they bring back health class, something I never thought I'd miss.
I'm glad the next one's a boy and his dad gets to have that Talk.
For every SV Moms book club, I offer whether or not I would recommend the book we read. In this case, I offer a tentative "yes." It is a handy resource to have on hand, especially when Petunia reaches the teenage years and the bigger issues arise, and it will help with my ultimate goal of raising a kid who will make smart choices based on solid information, which the book has in spades. I'm just not comfortable leaving it where my daughter can read it freely yet; she'll be in high school before I feel okay with that.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book. I did not commit to reviewing the book at all, let alone favorably, and am not being otherwise compensated for participation in this or any other book club.