So, I feel like my girls have lives of their own. Between girl scouts, pom and piano I often feel like I spend a much higher percentage of time with Bria and especially Jack. I’m used to questions like, “Will we really get to meet Lilo and Stitch in Hawaii?” or “Why doesn’t Tucker have to wipe his butt when he potties?” Yes, that question was thrown at me just yesterday. If Arleigh and Hanan are home it’s more along the lines of, “Mama, what’s a detritivore?” during the homework hour. If you are wondering, I had to look it up. Imagine my surprise when some questions last night forced my hand and Arleigh, Hanan and I had THE TALK.

Let me set the scene… Arleigh has been beyond moody. Like, I’m starting to worry about periods moody. Then again, she’s only in fifth grade. Is that really possible? When I was in fifth grade I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what a period was. I was too busy plotting with Nathan Galloway how we were going to be in the summer Olympics one day hoping it would get us out of Sedalia. My mother was her mother’s daughter to the nth degree. At one point she handed me the book, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret and said, “Good luck.” She did eventually tell me some of the very basic stuff. She had a wonderful story that I think she should turn into a book. It went something like this…you build a nest in your body to hold eggs. If you’re eggs aren’t fertilized your body loses that nest so another one can be built. That’s what your period is. Now I roll on the floor laughing every time my mom is mad at my brother and he says in his fakest sweet boy voice, “Mama, are you losing your nest?” I can tell other stories too, like how I taught myself how to shave. Nana Bonnie noticed some prickly knee hair when we were on vacation in Gatlinburg and totally ratted me out. I had been shaving at least a year before Mom figured it out.

Anyway, Arleigh’s mood had shifted from somber to something worse. If I ask what’s wrong she says nothing and proceeds directly to sulk mode. This drives me crazy because it’s something my dad did and I’m the only one allowed to sulk in this house. I am the professional, all amateurs should leave it to me. I pushed a little harder. Apparently the sour mood was all about not allowing her to watch certain television shows.

I need to back up again… we don’t have cable. We decided when we moved to Memphis that there are certainly better ways to spend our money and we hoped to create more family time. It’s been a success in some ways. We’re probably not doing as well as we hoped but television consumption is down. I asked exactly what it was she wanted to watch. Wouldn’t you know it, a commercial for Smash was just coming on. I told her I would watch it first but I’m pretty certain that anything that comes on a nine o’clock central was probably not appropriate for an eleven-year old. Plus, I record Castle and Hawaii 5-O in those time slots and I am unwilling to give either of those up!

Around this time, the real issue started to surface…Arleigh felt that my refusal to let her watch certain shows meant that I don’t trust her to make the right decisions. Arleigh is far more mature that I ever was and I’m fairly certain given the opportunity she would almost always make better decisions than I did. However… I explained that some things that you are exposed to might encourage her to make a bad decision by example. I was citing certain examples and explaining that some of her friends might be encouraged to do the wrong thing if television is their only example then they won’t know right from wrong. Oh my this stirred the pot. “What? Are you talking about Becky? It’s not Becky you should worry about. It’s Suzie! Do you know what she does at school?” (All names have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.) Arleigh went on to give several examples of the things little Suzie had done and said and descriptions that were at the very least lacking, sometimes incorrect. Well (insert cuss word of your choice here)! It is time to explain some things…after a prayer of God please help me have the right words and get through this without damaging anyone too terribly bad.

I’ve been reading a book about how to talk to your children about sex on and off for over a year. I’ve clearly been putting this off. It was clear that if they didn’t hear the correct information from me, the misinformation at school would be much, much worse. So I sat both Arleigh and Hanan down and explained the facts as scientifically as I could. Oh my word! I’m pretty sure Hanan has been traumatized for life. Questions like, “You actually do that?” “Where would you do that?” “Why?” and statements like “That sounds horrible and painful and I am never getting married!!!” would be the reason I can assume trauma. While I usually try not to announce it here, did I mention that Ray is out of town? I was left to fail miserably on my own. Oh the humanity! I’m not sure who it was worse for but I’m pretty sure it was me with Hanan running a close second. Her poor little innocent spirit. I hope it’s not crushed.

The greatest part of the event was Arleigh grabbing her iPod as I was going downstairs. I turned around, horrified. I had just said that this wasn’t a conversation to have with peers right now, some of their parents haven’t talked to them yet. I asked what on earth she was doing. “Don’t worry. I’m only texting Grandma and Nana Bonnie. They’re my best friends!” I know Grandma and Nana Bonnie love that! Considering the fact that I had to graphically explain innuendo on a television show to my mother recently as Nana Bonnie was laughing in a fetal position at her sister and Ray was turning 10 shades of red at what I was trying to explain to his mother-in-law with him in the room, I think Grandma is going to have to get a little better informed for this texting business. Prayers for all of us, especially the adults are encouraged.