My oldest daughter is now thirteen years old, and she seems to be a classic case of “13 going on 30”. Her formerly cherub-like child body (complete with squeezable rolls so thick she looked like she was put together with beads) has lengthened out and now she appears to be all arms and legs.
It’s wonderful to watch my daughters slowly transition into womanhood. If you’ve read my posts from the past you know that I have been talking to them -and I continue to talk- about the changes that are occurring in the body, the brain, and the hormonal changes during puberty. My oldest has equipped in her backpack a menstruation “Go Bag” prepared with a few items she can use in case of period emergencies; these items include a pair of www.dearkates.com undies, a small pad/panty liner, and a small heating pad for cramps.
I will continue to supply my child with the information and tools she will need to be empowered and confident. There are many more situations for growth and learning to come in which she will discover more about herself. Dating is going to be one of the next big issues waiting in the wings for us. Meanwhile, including those few pimples (*coughhormonescough*) she is becoming a beautiful young woman. Recently, I shared some of the better photos of my kids with friends. My friend S said with a huge smile, referring to the standard trope about a father’s need to protect a daughter, “You’re gonna need a shotgun.” To which my partner said, “She is her own shotgun.”
That was the best compliment! My daughter truly IS her own shotgun. I could attribute that source to her infancy when I binge watched “The Sopranos” when I stayed at home and breastfed her, but I prefer to think of that as a result of years of honest and age appropriate talk about sex and sexuality and everything else that comes up in our daily lives. Who needs a shotgun when this kid is not going to let anyone push her to do something she doesn’t want to do?
I took some time off from writing in this blog over the past year to finish writing a book (available NOW). In doing so, I realized I stopped writing about these daily interactions I have with my daughters that build on the frequently frightening world of sexuality. I’ll do better in the coming weeks to get back into the habit of writing these down.
These conversations with our kids don’t have to be only about penises and vaginas – they can be a little bit every day or week setting the stage for open communication about life. I want both of my daughters to develop healthy ideas about relationships, sexual health, etc. I’m not trying to be their “best friend”, but I do want them both to feel they can trust me and understand what our family values are about sexuality so they can make good decisions on their own later.