My husband thinks that when girls get together, all we talk about is periods and nail polish. He doesn't really think this, but without sports or whatever he heard on NPR as topics of conversation, he is left to wonder what else there is. He doesn't realize that periods are the least racy thing we usually talk about, and that conversations about nail polish are very short, and usually take place between two women who aren't to the point in their relationship where they are comfortable talking about periods, or bras, or what's wrong in their sex lives. Once you've gotten there, anything is fair game.
But, last night we actually did talk about periods. We warmed up with other things first, like school, and teachers, and hot lunch and stuff like that, then, for the denouement, we talked about what our mothers, but more importantly our fathers said to us when we got our first periods. J didn't tell her mother that she had gotten her period for a year, and used toilet paper to make her own tampons. D's father gave her a card. E's father congratulated her and offered to take her out to dinner. My mom said "oh, shit. Do you know what to do? Yes? Let me know if you need any help." One woman's daughter asked her to not tell Dad, and she told her, "I will tell him, but you don't have to talk to him about it."
We were all agreeing that your dad acknowledging the onset of menses (ew) is mortifying in every possible way. But when I thought about it later, it occurred to me that, at that age, almost everything your parents do or say is mortifying. The real victim here is the dad. My dad never brought up my period to me, ever, and probably still to this day would rather die than admit that I have one, or that I have sex, or that I have boobs. Once as a teenager he told me my bra strap was showing, and I think we both shortened our lives that day. But it has to be terrible for the dads. Moms have a job to do in this scenario. We have to instruct, and talk about fallopian tubes, and give tours of maxi pads, and, make no mistake, we're dying a little on the inside, too. But dad's have nothing to hide behind. They know that something about this is momentous, and maybe they feel like they should say something, but, honestly, if you're a dad reading this, my advice would be to politely ignore what you have learned about your daughter. Politely ignore "breast buds" which has got to be the worst description of anything, ever, and continue your relationship as though nothing has changed.
Having said that, however, the few people I know who didn't have their moms around for one reason or another, and were informed about periods by their dad or their older brother, seem less traumatized by the experience than the girls who had mothers to embarrass the hell out of everyone. Maybe we're going about this all wrong, and moms should just stay out of it completely. We should let the dads handle it! I can just imagine how Rob would handle this. Actually, he would probably handle it just fine. Its just like me to find another job that I can pawn off on him; kitchen floor, garbage, cat box, period talk.