posted May 18, 2009 at 1:25pm
About halfway through the “how to teach your child with Down syndrome about puberty” seminar this past weekend, it dawned on me that everything I learned from puberty came from Judy Blume.
Okay, if we’re going to get technical, you can throw in a reel-to-reel film they showed in third grade and a pair of books called “Where Did I Come From?” and “What’s Happening to Me?” — but really, aside from the mind-searing revelation from the school nurse that when she was a teen, they wore rags instead of pads — all the important stuff came from Judy Blume.
Sophie loves Judy Blume. She’s got all the Fudge books and the rest of them are floating around the house, too, but somehow I don’t think she’s quite ready for “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.”
And I’m not certain she was ready for this seminar we went to, either. When the topic of masturbation came up at the pre-seminar Friday night, Ray and I both got nervous. It didn’t seem like such a good idea to teach her about that. I brought her on Saturday, anyway. Still nervous.
Before the seminar started, the instructor walked over to let me know she would not be showing “Pink Slip,” or whatever the official title is. “Don’t let me stop you,” I said, worried I’d over-stepped my boundaries. She mumbled something about finding a different video.
Earlier that morning, I’d pulled “Pink Slip” up on YouTube for both girls to watch, figuring Sophie might as well see what she was in for. Annabelle held the phone, mouth agape, until the part where Susie pulls down her pants to show her younger sister Jill her own pad/blood.
“I’m out,” Annabelle said, handing me the phone. Sophie just made a face.
The other video was a little better, designed to instruct girls with autism about their periods. Lots of pads and blood but no sing-songy, out-dated narrative.
In fact, the whole seminar was a little ho-hum. Except for my daughter.
About a dozen girls and their moms (and one brave dad) gathered in a conference room, and the instructor began with a lesson in Public vs. Private.
“Can anyone tell me a public place?” she asked.
One girl raised her hand. “McDonald’s.”
Another: “Dairy Queen.”
And Sophie: “San Diego.”
Well, yes, the instructor said, San Diego is a public place.
“Can you be more specific?” she asked.
A little later, it was time to explain puberty. Puberty takes a long time, the instructor said.
“Can anyone think of something else that takes a long time?” she asked. “Yes, Sophie?”
“My dad reading in the bathroom.”
Turns out, I have the Sarah Silverman of the tween DS set. A little comic relief never hurt anyone, I figure, and Sophie’s timing is impeccable. Right as the conversation slid into what I knew was going to be mastubration territory, Sophie announced she had to go to the bathroom.
After two hours, I was exhausted, and beginning to worry that Sophie was only just getting warmed up. She announced that a bra is so that “your breasts don’t fly” and announced that her mother needs zit cream.
We watched another video entitled, “Growing Up Is an Exciting Time; You Will Be Just Fine” and I was amazed at the narrator’s optimism.
I needed a cocktail. When the instructor announced that it was time to play “Puberty Bingo,” I gathered my purse and my kid and headed for the door, mumbling under my breath, “I’m out.”