Our Story Begins:
Of Tampons And Trust
Well it finally happened . . .
My middle daughter came to the conclusion that it’s okay to let her father help her deal with the problems of her period.
Understand Hannah was in the unfortunate position of having to deal with her first period just a few months after losing her mother; my wife Andrea, passed away two years ago. As a result, all those distinctly feminine things that a normal girl would discuss with her mom just ended up making her uncomfortable.
I tried, God knows I’ve tried. When she would put her *ahem* soiled panties in the laundry basket without dealing with them and it drove me bonkers. When I tried to explain to her how to fix this – with some cold water and hydrogen peroxide – she disappeared, acting like I had just explained the nudity of Michaelangelo’s David. When I tried to separate out those stained underwear so that she could utilize those for the seven days in the month she might have another issue, she grew hormonally annoyed with me.
The peak of problems occurred with her sister, not me. One day, my 18-year-old daughter, Abbi, came barreling down the stairs, a towel wrapped around her petite form, shouting “…if you use them that’s fine, but tell me! Now I’m totally out and I need them!”
The shouting was about tampons, you see.
That’s right, I said tampons. I’ve never been one to be horrified by a woman’s cycle. I can use the terms: tampons, maxi pads, menstrual cycle, period, monthly visitor; you get the idea. On this day I offered to go buy more on my way to work and drop them at the house. Simple as that. Annoyed but resigned, Abbi agreed. But Hannah still wouldn’t discuss or talk about it.
Understand, I don’t want to have some deep, philosophical, “rite of passage” discussion with my daughters about this. What I do want is for them to trust that I get what they’re going through. Well, I don’t get it, I’m a guy, but I get it, if you get my drift. This is part of life, of who they are, and it’s not something that I’m embarrassed about nor should they be. In fact, I take the mentality that it’s likely far less embarrassing for me to go to the checkout with a box of Tampax as a guy, than for them to show up there, box in hand, signaling for all to see that, yes,it’s that time of the month already.
So for more than a year I have dealt with the consequences of what I assumed was laziness topped with a dollop of embarrassment. Understand, I do the laundry in the house. While I may not be the expert at clothing, I understand what happens. So when yesterday my middle daughter, Hannah, who has had the hardest time without a mom to have these discussions about the changes in her body, I was relieved.
“Dad, can you pick me up some pads on the way home,” she asked rather meekly.
“Sure,” was my response. “Do you need them now, or do you have enough to get through the day?”
“I have enough,” was her response.
Still, I asked if she had tampons to get through the school day; if she had put some in her messenger bag she carries to make sure that she’s covered until she got home.
This may seem a little thing for you, but for us, it’s a matter of trust. She realizes with the help I’ve tried to give, the friends who’ve helped me understand what I didn’t know, and the empathy I’ve tried to give, she’s safe talking about it.
It should also show how much I’ve grown; that I’m more worried about being late for work because of buying same said panty liners.
What about you? How is the dad in your house dealing with the changes in his little girl? Married, single or other, do your little girls talk about these things with their dads? Let us know how it’s going!
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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.