The Puberty Talk

Early this year, a friend told a friend who told me that there was actually a family doctor in Montreal that was taking patients. I practically grabbed the information sheet out of my friend’s hand and ran to the phone, ready to do any grovelling necessary to be put on the list.

Why such haste? For those of you unfamiliar with the state of Canadian healthcare, let me put it this way: hell in a hand basket with Quebec leading the way. My family and I have been living in Quebec since 2004 and still did not have a family doctor. Oh we tried once- a friend recommended a doctor to us, so we had one in name only. However, it took three months to book an appointment with her and she would not return our phonecalls and when we actually managed to get an appointment with her, she would write incoherent things on a piece of paper and tell us to go see other doctors.

However, the situation is different with this new doctor. My husband and I had our appointments a couple of months ago and she actually took the time to do a proper check-up. It will also be possible to go to the walk-in clinic when there are emergencies and even have a chance to see her when we are not scheduled! Because that is all I want really. We are a pretty healthy family and don’t have to go to the doctor’s very often. But it would be nice if when we do have to go, it could be to see someone who knows us.

And that is what brings me to my present topic. The kids’ check-up. They went on Monday afternoon and were weighed, poked, prodded, measured- all that stuff that doctor’s do. However the real point of the appointment was for my kids to get to know her, to establish a relationship with her so that they feel comfortable enough to come and asks the embarrassing questions during the teenage years. One of the things that came up was that my ten year old daughter did not know what puberty was. Now, I have to admit, it’s not because I am ashamed, or shy or embarrassed that this had not come up before. It just never occurred to me. My daughter is small for her age and although she is growing fast, she is not exhibiting any outward signs. To me, she is still a little girl.

But when the doctor repeated this to me (okay, I was a bit late getting to the appointment and missed this part so had to be brought into the loop), it hit home like one of NASA’s ships crashing back into Earth’s atmosphere. She is ten years old. Duh. If puberty begins between 9 and 13, that would include almost both of my daughters. So that night, for storytime, we read this old book that someone had given us called Just You: the care and keeping of you and it was totally helpful (I love books). I never thought I would say this as long as I live, but thank you American Girl Library! It just made it so much easier to answer the questions that came up. Just flip to the right chapter and voilà! Here is a good definition of what a period is, what a tampon is, even how to insert it. It also deals with subjects like nutrition and how to take care of your skin and about how you start to need more showers when you hit puberty. The girls asked a lot of questions and I got to feel like supermom, which hardly ever happens.

So, in summary:

1) Finding a family doctor in Montreal=Hard.
2)The girls are growing up and I seemed to have missed the memo.
3) Using a book to help explain hard to explain subjects actually works! Who knew?

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3 Responses to The Puberty Talk

  1. Anonymous says:

    does the book cover stuff other than tampons — as in alternative menstrual products like The Keeper? Just curious. I'd be very pleased if it did, but not surprised if it didn't.

    I am very glad you had A Talk. There are a shitload of puberty signs that a mom might not notice and a girl might be too terrified to ask about. Like when your vagina starts to leak but it's not blood, and you think something is very wrong and weird with your body but are too scared to ask.

    I think it's interesting that you say you're not embarrassed but want your kids to feel comfortable with their doctor to “ask the embarrassing questions”.

    I wish sex wasn't embarrassing.
    I wish growing up wasn't embarrassing.

    —c

  2. It is true that I am no longer embarrassed, however, if you had asked my 13 year old self I would have been mortified. In fact, I didn't tell anyone when I got my period. I just stuffed my pants with a lot of toilet paper and then stole one of my mother's HUMUNGUS pads when I got home. It was actually the discomfort of wearing what amounted to a diaper that finally made me tell her so that I could get something a little smaller.
    As for the book, it only covered tampons and pads and didn't go into any of the environmentally friendly alternatives. I have never heard of the Keeper (I will look it up right after I write this) but I know about the diva cup and will try to offer alternatives to my girls.

    And yes, the book did cover that topic of topics, come on, say it with me, DISCHARGE!

    Yeah. So they should be prepared for that wonderful moment.

    Living sure is messy.

  3. carrie says:

    I was always confused by those mom-sized pads. I thought women must bleed more and more and more as they get older. Now I know it's all about technology and wings and blue liquid being able to be absorbed (thank you, tv!)

    the keeper and the diva cup are pretty much the same – keeper is made of rubber, diva cup made of silicon (I think), but I resent the name “diva cup”. Sounds a little too cutesy.

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