Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Passing the Torch

I generally don't like TMI blog entries, but I kind of have to go there. Two days ago, my daughter announced to me that one of her friends just got her first period. I had given her the birds and bees basics several years back, but we hadn't really discussed any of the actual details in the when and whats of this particular woman-hood moment yet, because, frankly, it seems like it's kind of early for this. My daughter is only in the fifth grade, so she's just beginning the joy that is puberty. Lucky her. Anyway, I was a bit taken aback that she'd become so savvy right beneath my nose, gathered myself together before the surprise could show, and tried my hardest to be Cool Mom Whom You Can Always Go To For the Answers and She'll Give It to You Straight.

Turns out her big question is what she should do if this were to happen to her when she's at school. Should she go to the nurse? I downloaded my advice about what to do and reassured her that I didn't think she had much to worry about yet. She seemed satisfied and headed back to AIM, her lifeline to the world.

And I headed straight to the bookshelf where I have all of my YA keepers, those current and those from my past. I pulled out my battered, purple-covered copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, smiling to myself when I opened the front cover and saw where my mother had penned in my name - my maiden name - on the book's title page. I don't know how many times I had read that book when I was in the fifth and sixth grade. Perhaps close to a hundred. But at long last, I was going to pass down a real part of my own history to my child, thrilled that this would be one growing up experience we would have in common.

I headed back downstairs and handed the book to my daughter, telling her I thought she might enjoy reading this particular story. She glanced at it, tossed it on her desk and said "Thanks" then headed back to the computer. The book hasn't moved an inch in two days.


I don't know what I was expecting. First of all, my daughter's reading tastes are all over the place, but she has a surprising predilection for fantasy and the books that tend to win children's literature awards like the Rebecca Caudill Award. No biggie, cause she also reads the Clique books and is dying to jump into Twilight, so I know she's capable of enjoying mind candy like the rest of us. Plus, when you read the blurb on the back of AYTGIMM, it somewhat misleads you to think that the book is all about God and religion rather than training bras and getting your period. And there is the fact that I'm her mother and everyone knows that reading something your mother thinks you should read is going to turn out about as well as dating someone your mother thinks you should date. She's well practiced at eye rolling whenever I mention how cute little So-and-So is growing up to be and that she should be nice to him...

Even so, I guess I was hoping she'd grab the book from my hands, plop down on her bed and immediately dig in. Does she have any idea at all how good that book is? How much it influenced me when I was her age? She has no clue what she's missing!

I thought, maybe if I go to the book store and pick up a copy with a cover far less dated than my circa 1978 version she'd be more receptive. But I've vowed to cut back on frivolous spending, and I think this applies. Too, there's a good possibility that AYTGIMM is included in a Judy Blume collection bound into one volume I picked up at some point on some bargain table. I just need to get off my butt and go check. Regardless of the format, there's the chance she just won't be interested.

So I'm just going to ask her casually now and again if she's had a chance to look it over. Obviously I can't force her to read it. Or can I? No. Really. And even if she does, I can't guarantee that she'll find it as life affirming as I had. This is one of those leading a horse and just hoping it's smart enough - in this case, intrigued enough - to drink.

This isn't the first time I've had to deal with one of my kids ignoring the fact that, indeed, I might have a clue. And given that we're heading into those teen years, I suppose I'd better get used to it.

Little sidebar: Did you know that AYTGIMM is one of the top 100 most frequently challenged (i.e. parents want it banned from school libraries) books, at least according to Wikipedia? Wow. Who knew.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Did you know the book has been updated? I'd just heard that the book has been updated with current feminine hygiene products (meaning, minus the belt and such) and re-released.