kids

'My 10-year-old daughter still believes in the Easter Bunny – and just got her first period.'

Last weekend my 10-year-old daughter started her period. It’s young to start – so young that she still believes in the Easter Bunny, and on that first period morning was out in the backyard hunting for chocolate eggs.

The juxtaposition is heartbreaking, because nothing signals the impending loss of innocence more than a young girl’s first period, and when it’s against a backdrop of make-believe the imperfect timing is striking. That little girl, running around finding chocolate eggs is still my baby, and now her body is telling her she is capable of making her own.

I’m not at all worried about explaining what a period is or telling her about sex. She’s known for a long time.

Watch: MM Confessions – Your period horror stories. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

We talk openly about everything, which was kind of uncomfortable at first but being open has for sure paid off as she wasn’t scared or worried. She simply whispered, “Mum I think I’ve got my period”.

It was very matter of fact, and while she was a little emotional, it wasn’t a huge shock for her – in fact she seemed delighted to share this big event with me.

For me though… oh the crushing knowledge that she is way too little to have to go through this every month.

To wear pads and tampons, to handle the emotions and restrictions and unknown every single month for the next 40 or so years.

And calendars! No longer will she make decisions based on whether her day is free for a friend’s pool party, beach swim or sleepover.

ADVERTISEMENT

Until she is using tampons she will need to check when her period is due to decide whether she can go. The complexity of having a period when you’re young and just learning is all coming back to me.

But that is not what’s really worrying me.

No, what’s worrying me is that now everything has changed. She might not feel it, but I do, and while it’s a little sad for me that she is growing up, the increased risk to her well-being is what scares me.

She is entering a world where she will be judged on her body. She will be reviewed by eyes that will track her up and down and assess her tiny frame as her hips and chests begin to curve. She will be seen by some as fair game.

Listen: Mamamia’s Ask Me Anything is a podcast for your teen’s and tween’s curliest questions. Post continues below.

As the curves slowly appear the comments become loaded. ‘Gee you’re growing up’ takes on a new meaning and is uncomfortable and confusing. Feeling eyes on you, of suddenly being on display – to the man at the shops, boys walking down the street, friends’ fathers and relatives – changes everything.

It’s not fair when this beautiful stage of life, this incredible moment is so closely attached to danger, to unwanted attention, to the risks we as women face every day from the many predatory males outside the safety of home and mum.

So now my conversations with my daughter are straying from the practicalities of sex and love, to heart-to-hearts about staying safe, about what it means to be a woman and how to protect yourself from unwanted attention and the dangers lurking outside.

I will make her strong, without destroying her innocent view of the world. But I will slowly share the real world with her, the one with the risks, the ones where we need to constantly keep ourselves safe and be on guard – and while I will hate it I know it’s my responsibility. I have to keep her safe.

So as she collected her Easter eggs, left by the Easter Bunny for likely the last time, I said a little goodbye to complete innocence and hello to a new time, an empowered time that I promise to lead her through. Through periods and beyond.

Feature Image: Getty.