Most of my friends have thoroughly grownup children now, and it still startles me to hear the way they talk. They’ve made sure their kids are fully versed in and prepared for adulthood in a way our own parents failed to, even talking frankly about S – E – you-know-what. So my friends’ daughters will rattle on about penises right in front of their moms and everybody is totally cool about it, except me. It’s not the subject matter part that bothers me. It’s the WITH YOUR MOM part.
My own mom gave me only the most necessary information concerning highly personal hygiene, just enough to keep me from running to the school nurse screaming the moment I became a woman, not that we used inflammatory words like “woman.” Ours was a family that didn’t even say “down there.” Just as we can infer the existence of a black hole by the behavior of nearby stars dancing around it, I learned what is never to be explicitly talked about by what Mom and Dad danced around. It was understood. We had a deal. They let me know exactly what their standards were and what they expected from me for eighteen or so years, and in return I knew exactly what to never, ever talk about. I learned the nature of problems I was to take to my doctor or my friends but not my parents. We certainly never sat around talking about penises.
I don’t have a kid. I have a laptop, and it’s young. I can tell. If my laptop could volunteer anything about its private life, it wouldn’t hesitate. It would tell me who it met out in the Cloud and what it was doing with them. The little sucker is flapping its digital lips all day long. I really don’t want to know. I bought it and brought it home and plugged it in and hoped it would have the good sense to do whatever it wanted to do and not bother me with it, but no. I just want to get in and take ‘er for a spin but as soon as we snap the seat belts on, it lets up on the gas and says Safari is using an encrypted connection. Encryption with a digital certificate keeps information private as it’s sent to or from the website. Okay?
Fine! Duly noted. I don’t need to hear all that stuff. And thanks for offering to show the certificate, but some things aren’t meant to be seen. Keep it to yourself. You don’t need to ask for permission every time you go anywhere. Just be careful, have fun, and don’t give me any of the details.
Likewise all this bullshit about the passwords. I don’t know what the passwords are. You’re supposed to be the smart one, you tell me. I do remember that there was some simple setup procedure when I got this thing and I dutifully plowed through a bunch of stuff before hitting a logjam of some kind and quitting. I was supposed to come up with all these passwords for this that and the other, and every time I did, it said it was crappy and I should pick another. I started writing them down, expecting the interrogation to end, and finally gave up when it kept asking me ever more obscure things I didn’t know the answer to. As a result, my laptop can’t play on the Cloud after all, which is why it keeps asking me all the time. My cat still thinks we’re going to open the back door for her, too.
Safari wants to use the “Local Items” keychain. Well fine! I gave it to you once, it’s in your room somewhere, and if you would pick up after yourself every now and then you’d be able to find it. Oh all right. Hold on. Here it is. Last time, I swear.
Safari would like to use your iCloud keychain password.
Great! I’d like to have Sophia Loren’s cheekbones but you don’t see me whining about it every two seconds.
And if you need some damn keychain so bad just sneak it off the dresser like a normal kid, go on your toot, and put it back before I wake up. That’s called being considerate.
I'm about your age, but my mom didn't have any problem telling me where babies really came from, or about getting my first period. In fact, I knew all that stuff way before most of my friends. But she let it be known that one's period wasn't to be discussed, like it was something shameful. I couldn't even talk to my friends about it, I felt so ashamed of a natural bodily function. I remember vividly, trying to explain to my friends why I couldn't go into the pool, or why we had to postpone going to the beach. All without saying what the real problem was, which was: I'm bleeding like a stuck pig.
I remember trying to get my older sister to go in the swimming pool with me at a motel and she wouldn't go. I pleaded and Mom told me to leave her alone. But not why.
Now THAT is what I call a segue.
That's what I'd call a segue if it made any sense, but in this case I'd call it reckless veering off the point with an attempt to nail the landing.
The pictures are doing me in 🙂
I got the period talk and that was it. Everything else was picked up the NORMAL way – from friends and books … and experience. If I'd learned all that from my folks, I'd probably be so horrified I'd never have given any of it a try.
To be honest, I think some of the stuff I learned from the gutter wasn't even stuff my Mom could imagine.
I didn't get told any of it. So periods came as a nasty shock. Eventually I learned all of it as jenny_o did. Some of it was more or less correct and some of it was decidedly fake news.
Most of it I thought was fake news but turned out to be true, if implausible.
Some facts must have reached me by osmosis as I don't recall ever being "given that lecture."
I do remember talking with other eight-year-old girls in camp about where babies come out of. (Not come from. We never even thought about that.) No one really knew. One girl thought the little line of hair that comes down from your navel might open up. EIGHT. Shouldn't we have been aware of something by then?
I don't remember ever getting 'the talk' but somehow always knew, perhaps mum explained things whenever she needed to buy sanitary napkins, plus I had an older sister. But SHE was convinced babies got born by the doctor cutting you open from navel to pubic bone.
My mother gave me a booklet mafe available through the Kotex Company. It featured a darling, squeaky-clean, blue-eyed blonde in pigtails, a white shirt, rolled up jeans and saddle oxfords. She was proud as punch of the recent turn of events, which were guaranteed to crown her wholesome existence for only five days per month. I was looking forward to it. I bet the folks who produced my little booklet were from the same ad firm that put out the film we all saw in middle school on nuclear “events.”
Wow. I woulda said there's no spinning the thing, but I'da been wrong, huh?
I am, amused by my mom’s answer to somebody asking her how many children she has. “Five, but then I learned how that happened.” She is talking about learning about her own body’s mittleschmertz, but doesn’t elaborate, just leaves it short and sweet.
I just introduced "mittelschmerz" to a friend last year. It's a thing!
Golly, so it is. Another new word from the Book of Murr (and JJ).
I thought everything started with breasts… I was way too old before I knew the 'truth' even before the movies which totally confused me. Ignorance is bliss? I think not.
I wonder if boys figure it out before girls do?
We were a "down there" family, but there were three of us kids and when we were little we all got dunked in the tub together, so we all knew what each other looked like. But then mum left us when I was seven, took the siblings with her, so there was no conversations to be had about pretty much anything. I muddled through and eventually had four children, with not a single clue how to talk to the about anything connected to sex, reproduction, dating. We muddled through.
My laptop is a good little girl and does what I ask her to, there's no iClouds involved and I remember my passwords. But she is getting on a bit and every now and again needs a good long nap, about thirty hours worth.
Sometimes those are the kind of naps they don't wake up from. I'm told.
My mom told me that my period meant I was growing up. So I reckoned it would stop by the time I was 18, 21 at the latest.
By contrast, when my own daughter was young I volunteered at a wildlife hospital, and one fine summer day she called me there because she had her period but wanted to go to the beach. I plunked down and walked her through the “tampon thing” tutorial for about 10 minutes, until she was set and comfortable. When I hung up, I turned around to find the other women at the Center staring at me, mouths open. My friend Eileen; “I never was able to talk to my mom like that when I was young! I still can’t!”
I had the Tampon Thing without the tutorial when I got my period while camping with friends. Someone handed me one and I had to figure it out. The angle is never what you think it's going to be.
my mom gave my brother and I the talk, in great detail, at about 8. I was incredulous! "But what if pee comes out instead?" I naturally asked. "I'd pop him one!" she replied. We hurried to tell our older friends who said, "Bullshit! Sex is when you…" Boy did they steer me wrong.
Now that I think of it, how could Mom have given me any detail without having any vocabulary for it?
I got the booklet too. It lied. I barely remember it. Luckily I barely remember periods too.
They're almost into the realm of Fake News, now.
I'm a midwife, so my kids knew from toddlerhood way more than their friends' moms were comfortable with!
Did you take them on…field trips?
I was an advanced reader. I got hold of a book mom had gotten for my older brothers. Then I took it to school (first grade)because I thought it was fascinating and amazing. Then I got into so much trouble!
HOW can kids get in trouble for that? HOW? Sure could've used you in summer camp.
Back intros days, girls were 13 – 15 years old before they got their period. Now, I understand, it hits them at 8. I am appalled!
Hormones in the milk, I've heard. They all have massive breasts, too. What a ripoff.
My mom worked as a nurse, and volunteered for Planned Parenthood. All of my friends knew her, and I wasn't exactly sure why…. I was provided with a booklet, had a pretty in-depth conversation, and was told that I could ask any questions I wanted to ask. I never did. And I certainly couldn't use Planned Parenthood!
Right. My mom told me to ask her anything I wanted to also, about periods anyway,
but I sure as hell didn't take her up on it.
Hee! My investment account wanted to know the last name of my favorite sports figure. My favorite what? I reckoned I had three guesses, and that it was actually an answer I had provided at some point. To my immense relief, I got it on guess three. (After the sensible "Nyad," and the totally wild "Spitz" (swimmer, 1972 Olympics, c'mon, you remember Spitz!) I came up with a certain base stealer for the St Louis Cardinals. Whaddaya know. I was pleased with myself for days. It was a damn close call, though.
I have pages and pages of passwords…pages!!!!
Great post! I also had a booklet called something about how wonderful it was to “become a woman”. Horrifying. I had never even wanted to be a girl much less have that evolve into being a woman (at age 10). Now there’s no more monthly hemorrhage but instead an endless flow of passwords, some of which I recall occasionally.
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