Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Talk

Ms. Darla has known my baby girl since the week she was born.

She and her husband, who used to be my husband's boss, were among the first in our community to welcome home the baby girl everyone had waited for and prayed for. Lora was just days old when they dropped by for a visit (bearing gifts!) and to see our new arrival.

It was with such joy and pride that I placed my baby girl in Ms. Darla's arms that day. She was genuinely happy for us.

Since then, Darla has watched my girl grow up.  Her daughters took care of her at the annual high school dance team camp and even babysat the night my stepson, Daniel, graduated. We also bumped into each other frequently, at the grocery store, various school functions, and, of course, at the baseball field where my husband coached her son.

A nurse by trade, Darla also just happened to be on shift in the Emergency Room the day I accidentally and horrifyingly closed the tailgate of my SUV on Lora's 3-year old hand. (I'm happy to report that Lora's still mushy bones suffered absolutely no injury. She wasn't even bruised.)

She also was on hand as the school nurse the day my baby girl started at the local elementary school. Most comforting to a very nervous mom.

In fact, it was Darla who came to our house to recheck Lora's hair after I spent hours picking the head lice and nits from her gloriously long and curly hair, and gave me great tips for treating them so they wouldn't come back (and they didn't!)

So it's only appropriate that I should bring Lora to Ms. Darla now.

My baby girl isn't a baby anymore.  She is a growing-fast-as-a-weed tween, standing on that oh-so-dangerous precipice known as puberty. It's hard to keep up.

She's Godzilla in the morning and Strawberry Shortcake at night. She eats everything that isn't nailed down. And she can outgrow a pair of pants before they get out of the laundry cycle.

She's already a half a head taller than all of her classmates. She's already outgrown all the children's sizes and has moved on to juniors. She already tries to wear my shoes. She has her own razor.

And, yes. She sorta smells.

She also doesn't listen to a word I say. 

But for the last few years, Ms. Darla, now the nursing supervisor for the entire district,  has taught a very special class for young girls, where she teaches them all about the changes their bodies are about to go through and why.  So, I signed Lora up.

And last night she, and about 15 other girls aged 10 and 11 -- and their very nervous mothers -- filled a classroom at the local high school to listen to Ms. Darla dispense her wisdom.

And it worked like magic.  With her sweet sing-song voice and her ever-so-patient ways, Ms. Darla managed to explain the wonders of puberty to a giggling gaggle of girls, explaining -- with video -- exactly what is going to happen to them, how and why, what they are supposed to do about it and how they should prepare.  And what it all means.

"Just breathe," she repeated over and over as we got to the "yuck" part of the video.  "It will be OK."

And they believed her.

Without eye rolls, sighs or stomping out of the room, my girl listened as Ms. Darla explained that she needs  to wash her face, she needs to take a shower every day (or almost every day), she needs to wear deodorant.

"These things are important," Ms. Darla said. And my girl didn't argue once.

She even gave them a lovely little lesson on love: The crush (a little blow-up balloon that fizzles out when you let go), young love (a heart-shaped helium balloon that can be popped), and real love (a beat up old basketball, still filled with air). 

At the end of the program, all of the girls left with a little bag of goodies -- a toothbrush, toothpaste, a very discrete little pad to tuck away in their schoolbag for "that day," and a little pink booklet explaining things in a little more detail.

And a cupcake (Ms. Darla also happens to be a fabulous baker as well!)

Us moms, meanwhile, left with a little peace of mind and a survey. Was the class helpful? Absolutely! Then: "What other classes would you like to see offered at Community Education?" it asked.

While one mom asked if there was a similar class for boys (not yet), I had only one suggestion:

How about a class on "How to listen to your mother?"



Mom

Lora
        
*Original art by Lora.

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7 comments:

  1. Ms. Darla: why do I want to choke my husband?

    I love love love the beat up old basketball metaphor. Q may live to see another day.

    Great post!

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  2. Sweet post. I also love the metaphors!

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  3. Hah! I used to teach sex ed to 10th graders, and even though they would never want to discuss any of this with their parents, they were definitely interested and had all kinds of questions! (Some were hilarious and some were scary). It's important for them to have someone besides their parents, or friends, to get info from as their bodies change!

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  4. This is a fabulous post - I ate up every word of it including the cupcake.
    I wish Ms. Darla could come to our area. I tried to have a "talk" w. my daughter and it bombed. The next time I said, "Girls?" she replied, "Oh mom, you're not going to start talking about vaginas again are you?" Heh.
    So my question for Ms. Darla is WHEN CAN YOU COME TO OUR HOUSE? (-:

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  5. Metaphors make me happy, especially these ones!!

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  6. I love the metaphors too! I'll have to remember the basketball one; awesome! Ms. Darla sounds like a lovely woman. =)

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  7. Thank you all for reading.. And for writing. You would LOVE Ms. Darla. And the treats she makes! Oh my!

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