No thanks to Vera

I have  just opened Tina Fey’s memoir, Bossypants.

I couldn’t wait to share.

That’s what makes Bossypants the ideal choice for a women’s book club.

Tina’s life is unstoppably relatable.

In her first anecdote, she described how her mommy prepared for that wonderful rite of passage.

 The menstrual period.

Jeanne Fey sent away for a pamphlet: How Shall I Tell My Daughter?

Then, instead of reading it herself, Jeanne gave the pamphlet to Tina along with a package of Modesse.

The pamphlet contained such important, informational ditties as this:

Dear Pam: Of course, you can rollerskate! Don’t be silly! But be careful of the odor, or neighborhood dogs may try to bite your vagina.

I remember, oh so well, a visit to our Girl Guide troop by an elderly St. John’s Ambulance man who decided to open our first aid training session with this joke:

“I can’t wait to get my period,’ the little girl said. “It says on the tampon box that I can skate and swim and ride a bicycle. And I can’t do any of those things.”

Badda bum pum.

I was only nine, and I felt I needed a shower.

These stories serve to remind us of the many ways adults can traumatize young girls, when discussing the subject of the menses.

I remember when Vera took me aside at the age of 11, on the eve of a much-anticipated Guide camping trip.

“Here,” she said handing me an overlarge box of Kotex.

“You might need these.”

Thanks to this awful exchange — the first ever on the subject between mother and daughter — I spent weeks worrying about whether I would get my period at Girl Guide camp. Whilst there, I lay awake at nights, trembling.

When the blessed day arrived two years later, I’d all but forgotten about my impending introduction to womanhood.

It was Christmas Eve and I felt funny.

Sure enough.

I didn’t tell my mother until about a year later.

So carrying on the family tradition, I didn’t talk to my daughter about it at all.

I figured, let nature take its course.

Rely on the wisdom of the school yard.

Sure enough, it took a couple of years of awkward talks before we could discuss the subject at all.

Bob Mellor was right all along.

I am a prude.

What mothers do to daughters when it comes to relaying info on reproduction is unspeakable.

Like the uncomfortable afternoon walking into my mother’s apartment and finding Vera holding my birth control pills, which she found in my purse.

We were both horrified.

Well,” I sniffed. “That will teach you for going through my purse!”

A teachable moment indeed.

I also remember saying something equally stupid in the doctor’s office, after I had taken my daughter to The Worst Family Physician in Canada (TWFPC).

Marissa had been acting out, and I told the school principal I would take her to the doctor for a talk.

Which is what I told TWFPC.

He looked at me and said: “What do you want me to do about it?”

To which I stammered: “Well, why don’t you talk to her about birth control!”

We get along better now, Marissa and me. We can talk about anything.

No thanks to Vera.


3 Replies to “No thanks to Vera”

  1. Dad would have been glad to hear that you’ve finally admited to being a prude Rose.
    I’ve been reading your postings, good stuff.

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