So then…I open my backpack and untangle my jump rope from my friendship bracelets so I can reach my math workbook.
In the kitchen, I grab two chocolate Ding Dongs and a cold glass of milk, and head to the TV room with workbook and pencil, so I can settle in to watch the afternoon Million Dollar Movie. Life as a 5th grader is good.
I’m halfway through the movie, 100% through my snack, and 5% through my homework, when my Mom calls me to the back of the house, shuts the door and smiles.
I smile too, wondering what prompted this private meeting. I’m a pretty happy-go-lucky 10-year-old kid, so I assume it must be good news.
“Next week your Girl Scout troop is going to show you girls a film. So the troop leader suggested we prepare our daughters for what it’s about – and answer any questions you might have,” she says.
“OK,” I say brightly. “What’s the film about?”
“Well, it’s about an amazing monthly miracle – a special stage in a young girl’s life when she experiences some very important physical changes.”
Then she calmly and patiently explains the monthly cycle.
This is MY side of the conversation:
What are you talking about?
Women do what?
From where? WHERE?
Are you serious?
No really, are you serious?
I am calm.
For how long?
Oh my God. Won’t I die if I lose that much?
OK, OK, well maybe I can handle it, if it’s just five days.
Wait – five days EVERY MONTH?
For how many years?
Mom, Mom, you’re kidding, right?
You’re kidding, Mom.
I am calm.
When is this going to happen to me?
Oh my God. That’s terrible.
A “miracle?” A “blessing?” It’s not a “blessing.” It sounds horrible!
“Falobian tubes?” “Ovreeze?” What are you talking about?
Who cares about babies? I’m 10. I don’t want babies now.
Why can’t it wait until then?
But why not?
Can’t you talk to somebody about that? It shouldn’t happen until you want to have babies.
You gotta talk to somebody about that – you gotta change that.
I just…I just can’t believe it. This happens to ALL women?
Mrs. Hardison? Mrs. Mitchell?
My teachers? The nuns?
How long has this been going on?
Oh come on!
ALL women who EVER lived? Seriously?
What about pioneer women?
Really? Like pioneer women who lived out west in covered wagons?
That’s crazy. That’s just crazy.
I am calm.
So what do you do when it happens?
Yeah, I have seen that big purple box with the white rose on it in your bathroom sometimes.
That’s what it’s for?
I dunno — I just thought it was adult toilet paper or something.
Wait – pioneer women didn’t have those purple boxes. What did they use?
Seriously? Oh my God, Mom, I’m gonna be sick. This is so awful.
All of it. This is too much. Really, it’s just too much.
Who else knows about this?
Dad? Dad knows about this? My brothers?
Oh my God, how embarrassing!
Everybody in the whole world knows about this except me?
Oh, OK, so everyone older than me knows. But still, that’s like billions of people!
And they’ve all just been walking around keeping this big secret from me?
That’s terrible, Mom. Really. Terrible. Shame on them. Shame on them.
And men don’t do this?
They don’t have anything like this?
That’s pretty unfair, Mom.
This is just bad news. Bad news you’re giving me here, Mom.
And you know what? I’m not gonna do it.
No, I don’t have to.
I’m just not gonna do it.
Nope. No way, no how.
I AM CALM!!
And the fact is — I am so traumatized by this revelation when I was 10 that I actually succeeded in avoiding this dastardly occurrence until I turned 15. Take that, menses!
But of course Mom was right – this monthly “blessing” and a healthy reproductive system produced my two beautiful babies –
one of whom is now a tall, handsome son –
and one of whom grew up to be a lovely young girl –
who I drew aside one day to tell her about…
an “amazing monthly miracle.”
Written by Darcy Perdu of www.SoThenStories.com
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(Who told YOU about this fabulously fun cycle? How did YOU react? Were you traumatized like me – or did you just go with the flow? (Oh, yes, pun ABSOLUTELY intended.) Have you told YOUR daughter yet?)
Original Illustrations for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven