As my daughter is now 12, I know it is getting closer to the time we have that 'little chat'. I didn't really get the 'little chat' from my mum. I learned everything I thought I needed to know from Dolly magazines in the early 80s. I was in year 8 when Aunt Flo came to knock on my door. She took her bloody time. I knew something was happening to me. I ached. I cried. I thought everyone around me were morons. Some of them were.
I remember when I came home from school one day, shitty with the world as usual, and went to the toilet. My undies had a mark on them. My first thought was 'I'm going to die,' and then I thought back to Dolly Doctor telling some poor idiot that she 'wasn't going to die, it was just her first period' or some such advice. Don't quote my quote, though.
I threw away five pairs of undies that week.
On day three, I was in PE class and I suddenly felt wet. Wet like wee wet. I ran to the gymnasium toilets and in a scene not quite as award winning as Sissy Spacek's shower scene in Carrie, I sat on the loo shaking and crying. With nearly an entire roll of toilet paper down there, I dressed and waited for the bell to go. Leaving the cubicle, I was positive everyone knew, just from looking at me, I had the painter's in for the very first time.
I stormed into the house in my usual pleasant mood, looked at my mum and ran to my room crying. She followed, the look on her face told me she didn't know what was happening. Oh, sure. That's just bloody typical. How can you not know? I'm bleeding. I'm dying. You don't care. You don't know what it's like.
My mum was calm. As she always was. How I always remember her. I think she was more nervous about all of this than me. I don't remember much of a conversation, only of her drawing me a bath, leaving to go to the supermarket, and returning with various boxes and new underwear.
So, darling daughter, I want to tell you everything you need to know and everything you want to know. I want to tell you that for a while you may believe everyone knows when you have your period. Boys - bless their ignorant dickheadery - will sneer at your poise, confidence, assertiveness and will say over their shoulders to their mates, "What's up her arse? She must be on her rag" and if you are, at that exact period (pardon the pun) having your period you will think your secret identity has been exposed.
I want to tell you that your boobies will get sore and achy and heavy and feel like they have been punched a few days before your (whispers) monthly visitor pops by.
I want to tell you that, if you are anything like me, you will feel as though someone has taken a long hot needle and suddenly and swiftly pierced your ovaries each month.
You might get an ache in your back. You might feel bloated. You might feel tender.
You will want me to be psychic and know exactly what you are thinking.
You will not want advice from me. You will not want me to look at you, talk to you or breathe the same air as you. My being will be your torment and your embarrassment.
You will be going to school.
You will be doing everything you would normally do.
You will not feel like gleefully leaping through the waves, dancing and twirling the fuck around or riding a chestnut horse at sunset. The world will not feel like a Libra or Kotex commercial. You will want to hunt down the man who invented sanitary products (of course it was a man, right??) and teach him just how absorbent those mother fuckers are.
You will hate me and tell me I don't understand.
You will hate everything & everyone about a week before. Just as I do. Sometimes I picture your dad floating somewhere shallow amongst the reeds with the tv remote embedded in his skull all because he crunched soup or didn't put the toilet seat down.
You will learn that these feelings are normal. For some of us.
The truth is, growing up is a pain in the arse (sorry, couldn't help myself) and everyone's experiences are different. I don't envy you. I wouldn't want to do it again. No fucking way.
Welcome to womanhood.