In the past couple of months, I have been hanging out a lot of with my younger cousins (age range 12-14). Usually, I bring a game with me (either a hand game or Apples to Apples), but last week we played Manhunt outside at night time. After having to explain what it was (none of them knew – curse my 90′s self), we played about 5 rounds, the last round being that they couldn’t find me (FTW). After that I was tired (because I’m old) and we went to the store for drinks and candy. When we came back, we sat in the kitchen and the funniest/craziest/weirdest thing happened. The oldest cousin of the three just blurted out “Gabby, did you know that (name) started her lady business.” — Ok, it wasn’t exactly that because I couldn’t remember what she said, but you get the picture.
I was baffled for a quick second. How can my fourteen year old cousin just blurt out something like that? Then my feminist mind kicked in, telling me that it was ok to create conversation about menstruation and puberty. They started asking me questions about how your period works and I began telling them about my first time getting it (I was in church, God gave me a gift of messed up jeans and no protection). After we laughed about it, we got down to the nitty gritty and I drew a picture of a vagina and explained in detail how getting your period works. They kept asking other questions, such as, why do we get cramps and how often do you get it and for how long, etc. I told them it was different for everyone and cramps come from the shedding of the uterus lining (not in those words though).
Then they asked me why boys are so dumb, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I just remembered my thirteen year old self feeling that way about boys because they would bother me, when really they just liked me. I started to explain to them why boys are so simple yet complex and assured them that they would grow out of it a little bit at a time.
I came home and reflected on the conversation I had with my younger cousins and wondered how kids are getting their information. Granted, there are parents who are open and honest with their children, but what about those who choose to play the ignorance card? The younger generation is in need of some serious information about puberty, sex, boys, education, etc. and we need to prepare them. I am glad I was able to sit down with my little cousin’s and talk to them about puberty, even if we had multiple interruptions. In a society that pushes puberty, sex, and sexuality in to the private sphere, we need to make it public and educate the younger generation about what’s to come.