Lent, Mommy Blogs

Day 20: Explaining puberty to a 5-year-old

I highly suggest not reading today’s post if you’re grossed out about how female anatomy works. 

When you have a 5-year-old daughter, there is no privacy. It does not matter if the bathroom door is closed; she will still come in with her hairbrush and headband and ask you to help her prepare for school. When she barges into the bathroom and discovers some unexpected things, like staring at you and seeing blood on a pad.

This isn’t the first time she’s seen this, but she was much younger, around two or three. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her I had the bloods. After hearing that, for the next two and a half, nearly three years old, anytime she got a cut, she would come up to me and say, “Mommy, I have the bloods.”

However, today was a totally different story. Adelyn came in holding her hairbrush and headband; when she looked down, she looked up at me and was highly concerned. “Mommy, what happened?”

I wasn’t even thinking because it was first thing in the morning, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. “What happened?”

“You’re bleeding,” she said.

I looked down. “Yeah, I am.”

Her eyes got huge. “Why are you bleeding so much? Are you going to die?”

 It took every ounce of me not to laugh because she was extremely concerned. “No, baby, I’m not going to die. It’s just my period.”

This made her even more confused. “I thought a period was a dot you make on a piece of paper, not blood.”

“You’re not wrong,” I said. “Yes, there are periods you write, but this is different. You know how pop pop calls me a werewolf?”

“Yes,” she nodded.

“Well, every woman has a cycle.” I tried to figure out how to explain this so that a five-year-old would understand, and the werewolf reference was the only thing that came to mind. “Mine just so happens to match up with the full moon. I sometimes get cranky and angry, and at the end of that cycle, I have the bloods.”

She thought for a moment. “But if you are like a werewolf, why are you bleeding?” 

Oh God, what have I started? I thought. “So each month, a girl makes an egg, and it goes right here.” I pointed to her uterus. “And your body gets ready to make a baby.”

The idea of me having another made her excited.

“No,” I told her firmly. “I am not making another baby. Girls’ bodies do this every month.”

Adelyn looked down and became fairly upset. “Is that my baby sister?”

“Oh God no,” I said, hugging her. “That’s not your baby sister.”

It could have been your baby sister or brother we wouldn’t have known for months. But the egg wasn’t even a baby or had the possibility of being a baby, I thought, but I wasn’t going to explain that to her just yet. It was hard enough to explain the female cycle to a nearly six-year-old, and I didn’t even think about how to explain the birds and the bees to her yet. 

“Every month, your body gets ready to make a baby,” I told her. “But you don’t have to worry about this until you are way older. And when you’re older, like thirty, and you find your love, you two will talk about becoming a mommy and daddy. Once you decide you want to make a baby, magic will happen, and the egg will stay inside you and eventually turn into a baby. But if it doesn’t, your body releases the egg and a bunch of blood like this, and your body gets ready to try again.”

 She looked back down at the blood and asked. “Are you sure you’re not going to die?”

“No, I’m not going to die,” I assured her. “Women have superhuman powers. We can bleed for seven days or more and not die.”

I saw the wheels in her head spin. “If daddy bleeds for seven days, will he die?”

“Yes, he would most definitely die.” I laugh.

 This earned me a giant smile. “So when I get bigger, I’ll have a superpower?”

“Yes,” I mutter. “Women have the worst superpower, and we experience it every month.” 

“That’s so cool,” she says, running out of the bathroom. “I can bleed and not die.”

Oh, the joys of having children and the conversations that you get to have before you even change out of your pajamas or have that first sip of coffee

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