So all this one year I’ve been preparing myself, not that hard though, as to how and when to break into a discussion on menarche/menstruation with my pre-teen daughter. I was never told by my mother. In fact, unlike many friends and relatives who happen to remember vividly when they got their first period and how they were told about it, I have a blurred memory of mine. All I know is, it happened and there wasn’t any drama involved. Possibly because I was then in an all-girls residential school where there were classmates and seniors borrowing sanitary pads from one another and declaring it openly every month when ‘they got down’ besides the one-off visual glimpse of stained pads in the toilet bins which at times were not wrapped properly.
Just when I had forgotten about it earlier this month, my daughter came up to me after school one day and looked upset. All the girls of her class were called separately (it is a co-ed school) and were given a primer on menstruation. (I must confess that I was relieved that I no longer had to introduce the topic to her!) She was then apparently harassed by the girls in her class for sharing it with a boy who had asked her what the gathering was all about. I can imagine the look on their faces and the tone when they all said to her ‘why did you tell him?’ which culminated to ‘what did you tell him?’ before she broke down. She had no idea what the fuss was all about.
To be honest, I was a bit shocked too when she said that she had told a boy in her class about it but I just stopped short of being like one of her female classmates. I was brought up in the ‘ancient’ times and I belong to the Old School but with all the current global propaganda on talking openly about menstruation I was surprised that it was still the same as it was in my time. Maybe it will take some time to catch up but by then it would have been embedded in my daughter’s mind (which I am sure somewhere already it has) that it is not something she is supposed to talk or tell the opposite gender about. She still can’t figure out why. What is there to hide if my teacher tells me it is healthy to menstruate and all girls do that, she asks.
I was more amazed as how other girls of her age had reacted. Certainly they were told or made to believe that it is a hush-hush topic not to be shared with the opposite gender. What explanation were they given, as I am sure at that age with their curious minds just like my daughter, when they had asked for a reason?
I told my daughter that what she did was not incorrect. There was nothing wrong in telling the boy who had asked her. I can imagine his and the other boys’ curiosity being piqued when only girls were called separately. Perhaps, they should have been called too and made to understand puberty. This could have led to an onset of a healthy and respectful relationship for both the genders. They are the new generation. The future. I am happy I did my bit. I can’t pollute an innocent mind with all the unnecessary taboos.