By EM RUSCIANO
As some of you may know, I have a child on the cusp of womanhood.
I know! I am as shocked as you are that someone as young looking as me could possibly have a child about to go through puberty. (Come on guys, I need this. Just nod in agreement, okay?)
This very fact has driven me to write a show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival called “Puberty Rhythm and Blues”.
This is not a ‘subtle plug for my show’, this is a ‘smack you over the head with my show’ situation – but Mama needs to sell tickets and I need my people there. That’s you lot, the Mamamia community – you’re my people. (You and gay men.)
I had to ask my eldest daughter’s permission when I decided puberty was what I wanted to write jokes and sing songs about in the MICF. She was hesitant at first, but after I explained that it was more about me (what a surprise) and how I was going to handle her experiences of going through puberty – plus what had happened to me at her age – she was totally cool with it.
You see, puberty was particularly horrific for me for one reason. Body hair. I had ALL the body hair. If you didn’t have any, then I assume that is because it fled your body and found its way to me.
Friends, it was horrific. I was tucking it in every five seconds. I was an Italian girl with pale skin. The stuff was growing everywhere from my stomach to the tops of my feet.
I was like a hobbit with a taste for glitter.
I didn’t know what to do about it. My mother wouldn’t tell me how to go about removing it because she thought there was nothing wrong with the Koala ears poking out of my green school Speedos.
Also, my mother is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aussie who would never understand what it’s like to be able to plait the hair growing on your forearm. (I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Not even one bit.)
I got so desperate once I stole an old, rusty BIC razor from my Dad. No-one had ever explained to me the need for lubrication when shaving, so the result was a cut on my inner thigh so bad it needed stitches and a tetanus shot.
Oh, it gets worse friends. Once, on a trip to Priceline (how great is Priceline? I always feel like there is a world of possibilities when I walk in there. Namely, the possibility that I can walk out a better, more attractive person), I saw something called a “silky mitt”.
I knew mum wouldn’t buy it for me. So I stole it.
I am not proud of this fact, but those aforementioned hairs had started appearing ON MY NIPPLES Y’ALL!
It promised to remove hair with just a few gentle strokes, but as I had the covering of a silverback gorilla I decided to go in with a more aggressive technique. The result was not the silky smooth hair free body promised. The result was instead 2nd degree burns on my vagina. Yep. That is as painful as it sounds.
Thank the lord baby Jesus my eldest daughter appears to have a normal amount of body hair but even so, I am ready. The SECOND I feel it is getting unmanageable I have a cupboard full of organic wax, razors, bleach and hair removal cream.
Puberty is like a war isn’t it? You’re at war with your hormones, body, emotions and usually your parents as well. I am afraid for my little girl. I am afraid of the bitch fights, of her getting her heart broken for the first time, of her getting her period and not knowing what to do, of kissing and boys in general.
If I could do it for her, I would. If I could just sideline her for the next seven years and go through all that angst for her, I would. But I can’t. Plus so much rad stuff happens in those years! You feel everything eleventy million times harder than you do as an adult. Who am I to rip her off the first time a boy’s hand brushes hers accidentally-on-purpose?!
I have come to accept that no amount of research and preparation is going to make the next seven years okay for my kid. I can’t do it for her, I can’t fix it for her, I just have to let it happen.
All I can really do is arm my child with the knowledge and support she needs to march into puberty with. My kid will know what to do should a hair sprout from her nipple and how to change her underwear in public without anyone noticing…
All I can do is have her back when she needs me. I just have to stand beside her on the battlefield that is puberty.
So readers, if what I just said touched you in any way then I encourage you to grab a group of your besties, or even your mum, and head to Melbourne town and laugh with/at me.
My GOD the anxiety is high – but I’m excited to tell these stories in the hope of making others feel like they weren’t the only ones marking pages from “Are you there God it’s me Margaret”, and reading them till the book literally broke.
P.S. Come to my show.
How did puberty go for you? How did your mum handle it? If you have daughters, are you there yet?