I am a heterosexual man who is so in touch with his feminine side that it has occasionally brought me up on harassment charges. Therefore, when Thing 1's bedtime reading selection for us was titled "The Care & Keeping of You: The Body Book for Girls," I was fully prepared to read and share my experiences on the perils of acne and unwanted and/or strategically placed body hair.
Then I opened to where the bookmarker had been placed.
In rather large san serif white-on-orange lettering, the chapter heading spelled out, "Period."
"You sure you want this book tonight? What about that fairy book you got from the school media center?"
"No," Thing 1 insisted. "This is what Mom and I were reading the other night."
"Then let me get Mom."
"No. It's your turn to read to me tonight."
I scanned the page. It had a cartoon drawing of a young girl in a purplish T-shirt and green shorts. Her shorts seemed to have a piece of paper pinned across them.
With a diagram.
Monty Hall, that looks like a sweet trip to beautiful "Blushing Dadland," but I think I'd rather have what's behind Curtain No. 2. Oh, a goat munching on an old shoe? Faaaaan-tastic.
I started listening closely to the sounds out in the hall. My Love was tucking Thing 2 in for the night. She has probably read him another book about flesh-eating dinosaurs or bugs that crawl into your crevices and leave their slimy eggs to fester and hatch. Lucky wench.
I cleared my throat. Oops, lost the page. Gotta find it again.
"OK," I said, hearing doors opening and closing beyond the bedroom. "You read the first sentence, sweetie."
" 'Getting your period. There are probably no other words that will make you feel as exited …' "
"No, sweetie. The word is 'excited.'"
"'Excited, scarred …' "
"'Scared' not 'scarred.'"
"'Scared, or just plain confused.'"
Oh, frickin' tell me about, stupid authors! Who wrote this? I flipped back and scanned the preface page:
Why? Why do these people torment me so?
"Dad," Thing 1 said, "why are they calling it 'period.' I thought it was called 'puberty'?"
"All right. Those [footsteps] are … two [closer] ... well, different [doorknob turns] … things."
If ever My Love should have entered a room wearing a blue spandex outfit with a flowing red cape, this was it. I wonder which "special box" we hid that one in?
"MOOOM! Hey, we are sooooo glad you stopped by! Thing 1 here and I just started reading this very, um, detailed book you bought her. Maybe you can help us out with this question here …"
I bugged out, seeking comfort in the drunken, oversexed manliness of Tucker Max's "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell."
About half an hour later, My Love and I had a strategy review meeting.
"Honey," I said, "you know I'm more than willing to tackle most cringe-inducing subjects with the kids but -- I'm sorry -- you were on the premises and I think you'll admit this is probably a topic not within the grasp of [here's where I really sell it to the executive goddess within her] my particular skill set."
"I know!" she said. "I purposely stopped on that page the other day. I wanted to wait a while. Three days ago, we were reading a book about princesses and fairies. I didn't want to jump into periods right this minute. I meant to hide that book for a month or so."
"So ... how'd it go in there?" I said.
"OK. I gave her a demonstration about tampons …"
"Frick on a stick!"
"No, not on me! I just unwrapped one and showed her what it was."
A little later, after my heart returned to its normal rhythm, My Love mentioned that she had read that now that Thing 1 had started to, uh, sprout in certain body areas that it was likely that her first period could occur within the next year.
Why do I suddenly feel like a man on death row watching the lights flicker overhead?
Video: "Heterosexual Man," The Odds
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