The Film

The paper came home with the fourth grade girls yesterday- the one that says they’ll soon be watching “the film”.

“Mom!  You have to sign this!  We’re going to see a film about growing up and I can’t watch it unless you sign!”  She is excited, of course.  

My 4th grader is immature physically and in every other way.  She watches Spongebob, reads Goosebumps, and believes in the toothfairy.  She is blissfully unaware of fallopian tubes and sperm and fertilized eggs.

On the one occasion I tried to discuss menstruation with her, she did not want to hear it.  She knows a little bit about it from an American Girl Book her sister has shared, but not in great detail.  She’s in denial (just like her mother) and would prefer not to know.

My little girl is 10 years and 4 months old.  Aunt Flo came to visit me for the first time at 11 years and 2 months, the summer after 5th grade.  I was at Girl Scout camp and truly thought I must be dying.  I knew nothing.  I hid my messy underwear in my duffle bag and didn’t tell anyone.  My mother made that lovely discovery when I got home from camp.  We never talked about it, but some ‘supplies’ magically found their way to my bathroom.  I remember she also handed me a book called Growing UP a couple days later, with lots of information about a woman’s cycle, and a single paragraph about intercourse.  I read that paragraph in horror and fascination, checking the dictionary for unfamiliar terms, and discussing it with a neighbor girl who was equally horrified and fascinated.  

I can’t keep my daughter from growing up, but I can spare her the fear and embarrassment of not knowing what is going on when the time comes.  I just didn’t think the time would come so soon.  She may not want to hear it, at least not from me, but she definitely wants to know what’s in this mysterious film that only the girls in her class get to watch (no boys allowed!).  And I’ll take her along to pick out the products she’ll need and answer all her questions.  

At least she won’t ever have to wear a sanitary belt.  Raise your hand if you don’t know what I’m talking about (go ahead, make me feel reeeeeeally old!).

22 Responses

  1. My son got the letter too. I was okay with it but recently he had to have surgery on his testicle because they found a lump. Everything was okay and the surgery ended well but we have to check the incision every now and then and my Husband (God love him) doesn’t seem to know what to look for even though he has the same parts!! So it falls on me. My son is mortified of course when I have to do this.

    The other day, I saw the first signs of pubic hair. ACK!!! I don’t even think he knew they were there. I told my husband from here on out, he has to do “the check”. My son will be 11 in July. Soooo not ready.

  2. I definitely know what you’re talking about.

  3. Before I got mine, I thought I’d have to wear a sanitary belt. The only way I knew about periods before “the talk” was I think through Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and I’m sure she tries one out. When I asked my mom about the belt she said I should be very happy women don’t wear them these days!

  4. I’m so thankful that they have those movies, because my mom didn’t talk to me about anything. I read Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, and another book that my older sister shared with me (I don’t remember what it was called). So I had some knowledge, but I definitely think the sex ed class/video is a good thing. And like you said, sometimes kids don’t want to listen to their parents. I know I would have been mortified if my mom had tried to have “the talk” with me.

  5. Raising my hand about the belt! My daughter is in 4th grade, but I haven’t seen anything come home about “the movie”. Maybe they don’t do it around here, which means I need to. Not looking forward to this either!

  6. Oh my gosh! 🙂 It surely IS the right time for talking about it. I spoke with a child psychiatrist friend this week and she told me that parental influence begins to decline with kids at age 10 as peer influence begins to shut us out so we have to do our best to help our girls (and boys) have good positive self /body image as early as possible. I can’t imagine having this talk yet– mine are 5 &7– but it’s amazing to me that our values need to be so firmly rooted by age 10. No pressure, huh?! I’d say the movie will be a great jumping off point for conversation.

  7. I remember when they showed us that film. I was in fourth grade as well and had been pretty well-prepared by my mother. I remember I tried to engage the teacher in a discussion about why so many parents don’t talk to their daughters about menstruation (I was a very precocious fourth grader, now that I think about it) and I think she got a bit annoyed with me. I was just curious as to why it was such a taboo subject since she’d just spent the past twenty minutes or so telling us all that it was perfectly normal and something we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to our parents about.

  8. You made me chuckle about wearing the sanitary belts! Thankfully, they don’t have those things anymore. I always worried it would show through my pants. I hated them! My mother didn’t tell me much either but I do recall a movie being shown in the 5th or 6th grade. My son is 10 and in the 4th grade and they do “the talk” at school in 5th grade with girls/boys together. I’m not sure if they do something seperately with each. I need to find a good book for my husband to go over with him beforehand. I don’t want him to be too totally shocked at school. Oh, these are tough times to deal with. Good luck with your daughter!!

  9. Oh my!! That early!! I’ve had some talk with my 9 year old daughter since she appears to be “growing” yet thankfully Aunt Flo has not arrived. I’ve been thinking about it more lately, especially since she’s become more hormonal around the same time as me. It’s quite horrifying that it may be coming sooner than we really want! It was the summer between 5th and 6th for me as well and I think that while that’s still young, it’s easier to grasp than at a tender age of 9!!

    BTW…I’ve given you an award at The Book Faery Reviews!!

  10. This would be the main reason I was relieved to have two boys. I didn’t want to have to go through the explanation. My mother botched it. I think a lot of moms are just too embarrassed to bother.

  11. My sister had to wear a sanitary belt, but thankfully I didn’t start until 10 years after her (she was an early bloomer) – My daughter also started at 11 years in 5th grade – we made a big deal out of it and I took her out to dinner so she could talk to me without the family around.

  12. I had ‘the talk’ with my girl when she was 9. My friends thought she was too young but it was a good talk. We’ve discussed it since and when she got her period at 12 it was a big deal, but a good one. One that she was comfortable with, even though she was spending the night at a friends. Good luck with your talk!

  13. My 10 year old is very excited about it all and seems to be looking forward to things. I don’t get it. And yes, I know what you are talk about there at the end, though they were on their way out at the time!

  14. No belts for me… and you’re not much older than I!

  15. I don’t have kids, but I hear from my sisters-in-law that this is a hard thing for even the most progressive moms to face. It’s awesome that you’re going to arm your daughter with information and help her to feel empowered instead of overpowered by what’s happening to her body. If you need any help, there are a few great books out there, including one called It’s So Amazing that I think are great. It’s Perfectly Normal is another good one, but probably more appropriate for teens. Good luck!

  16. We didn’t get that film until 6th grade – they grow up so much faster now! But I understand your daughter; at her age, I had no desire to talk about it either, although my mother was definitely ready for the conversation. And I guess I’m lucky to be just young enough that sanitary belts were going away and being replaced by those lovely pads with the adhesive…

    And in a total change of subject, it was great meeting you at the Festival of Books yesterday – so glad that all worked out!

  17. Whoa. I was about a week into being fourteen when Aunt Flo came to visit me for the first time and it also was the same night of my birthday/slumber party. I got to stay home from school that Monday and got a short pep talk from my mom about it all but that was it for a few years in the sex talk department. When I was sixteen I got the threatening sex talk, “You better not end up like the girl up the street who had a baby at eighteen!” That lovely, and thankfully short-lived lecture took place after my mom found a note in my pocket between myself and a friend of mine about giving our boyfriends hand jobs!
    Enjoy the innocents while it lasts but I love that you want to prevent any embarrassment for your daughter. I didn’t get that kind of support and guidance from my mom but thankfully got it from another girlfriend’s mom.

  18. Oh my goodness–I’m sad to say that I’m old enough to remember belts. They were bad enough, but remember how thick the pads were? Girls now have no idea how lucky they are! We had the talk when my daughter was 9, simply because she did seem to be maturing so quickly. She’s 14 now and it’s all an ongoing conversation.

  19. This just made me realize how close this all is to me. Emma is 6 and a half. It won’t be long at all. My mother was pretty open with me about sex in general. Her mother was not. I saw “the film” in religion class, not at the public school, though. I also had read Dear God, It’s Me, Margaret a couple times as well. I was 11 years 4 months. I discovered it at home before taking a shower, but I knew what was happening. Once I finished my shower, I went upstairs to tell my mom. What I remember was her asking me if I had hit my head recently (????). Anyway, she gave me my supplies and I was lucky enough that they had just started coming out with pads with the sticky bottoms. 🙂 I was actually quite proud and wrote each of my grandmothers a letter. My dad’s mother thought that was a hoot. 🙂

    Good luck! I’ll be taking notes for when my day comes.

  20. I know about a sanitary belt, but I’ve never seen one or used one. My mom told me about this when I was 9 simply because she had a friend when she lived in Germany who got hers when she was 9 and she was terrified. Like you, she thought she was dying and no one had ever told her. Of course mine didn’t come until I was 12 1/2 so I was already aware and informed, and lol excited. Not so much anymore.

  21. lol…my parents totally bailed on the birds and the bees chat–i learned from my sweaty gym/health teachers and judy blume. and yes, i remember the sanitary pad belts–from AYTGIMM–not from my life.

    as a kid, my sister and i used our mom’s maxi-pads as sleeping “bags” for our barbies. sad, i know. my mom was appalled to find 8 barbie dolls snoozing on her stayfree pads.

  22. One of my friends started her period in the 4th grade during choir practice. I remember clearly we were sitting next to each other and she was wearing a light pink and black polka dotted dress. When we stood up, the boy behind us told her that the back of her dress was all red. She was mortified and we ran to the bathroom together. I didn’t know what was going on at the time and thought she was sick. After that, my mom checked out a book at the library to explain it all to me and I didn’t start myself until I was 14, way after most of the girls in my class. I think its good to have a parent sit down and explain things to you, I wish my parents would have!

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