29 October 2011

Everybody bleeds...

When I was young, very young, my mother taught me all of life’s hard lessons. She held nothing back. Sugar coated noting, worded nothing in age appropriate terms. She simply presented me with these lessons, and left me to decipher them, to deal with them as I so wished.

It was tough.
In fifth grade, my elementary school decided to hold an assembly for every child in my grade regarding the “differences” between the sexes. I can’t be certain why they did such, nor what they hoped to accomplish, but they did it (I’m sure parents today would have a fit over such a meeting, fearing that it would plant the seed of promiscuity in their little ten-year-olds). I think they even went so far as to bring a presenter in from outside of the school to host this!
I recall sitting on the floor in the gymnasium with one-hundred other small children while this man projected anatomical drawings of the female and male sex organs onto the wall. Information about females starting their menses was provided. Material about the growth of body hair, development of breasts, deep voices and body odor signaling the onset of puberty, in both males and females, was being thrown at us.
The snickering and whispering were non-stop.
Sitting around me were other small children, some of whom were making assumptive comments about peeing after sex to avoid pregnancy, and if you have sex while the girl is on her period, pregnancy will not occur. I, having been taught the lesson of the “birds and the bees” years earlier by my mother, had to kindly inform them that all of this was nonsense. That regardless the acts during and after sexual intercourse, if penetration occurs after a girl has become “fertile,” pregnancy is always a possibility—they just stared at me for a moment before continuing with their banter.
Three years later, I was the only girl I knew who didn’t freak out when I started my period. I knew what it was. I knew that the three, yes three underarm hairs that had sprouted, and fuzz that formed “down below” the summer before were sure signs of the monthly crimson tide to come. I started my menses, began using my mother’s sanitary napkins (without needed instructions), and went about my business. It was nearly a year later when my mother finally took note of her more quickly dwindling supply of feminine hygiene products and asked me if “it” had happened. “It had,” I told her, “about a year ago.”
She was up in arms. Asking me why I hadn’t told her. I simply reminded her that she told me years ago what it was, and that it would eventually happen to me; that it was only natural. She just looked at me, and started to say, “You know what this means right. You know that now…” I interrupted her by saying, “That if I have sex with a boy I can get pregnant, I know. I don’t plan on having sex.” 

 I still don’t know how to explain the expression on her face. I don’t know if it was a look of, “Oh my god, my little girl is growing up,” or an expression of, “Damn, I taught this girl well!” Regardless her thoughts, it was what it was. I went about my business, fertile and free...she went about hers, calling my aunts and anyone else she knew to tell them the news, old news.
In addition to teaching me about female fertility, puberty and reproduction, my mother taught me about life…more so the finality of it; the lack of human immortality. I handled the bird’s and the bee’s lesson very well. Absorbed the facts and went about my day.  The next lesson was not as easy of a pill to swallow—it’s still stuck in my throat today…

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