Does anyone remember the book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume? I do. I remember reading that book from front to back, over, and over, and over again. I was in the sixth grade when I first read it which is also the year we had our first sex ed. class. I remember that I was completely able to relate to the book. This book was my introduction to the glamorous and exciting tweenage life as it dealt with boys, periods, breasts, growing up, and everything in between.
Now I’m a mom, and my oldest daughter is nine and in fourth grade… WHAT? When did my first born turn into a tween? For Christmas this past year, my husband and I gifted her, “The American Girl, My Body Book.” It came highly recommended from friends, and of course, Google. Within hours of gifting her this book, I began to question our decision.
First, she came downstairs and asked demanded that I take her to the store that moment to buy her a bra. According to the pictures and description in the book, she needed one. After that she raised her arm and told me to get a whiff of her body odor, and suggested we hop in the car and go buy her some deodorant, pronto. Next, she exclaimed she needed me to show her how to use pads and tampons, and what will she do if she starts her period at school, or at a friends house, or what about during a gymnastics class… she was really beginning to PANIC. I pushed the stop button. Told her to stop reading the book, stop worrying and stop growing up faster than she needs to.
Being a tween is a time of a lot of change, but it doesn’t all happen at one moment.
I took the book from her and suggested we read it together starting at the beginning. Surprisingly, she loved my suggestion, so that is what we did. We continued talking about the topics in the book as they would arise. I tried to reassure her that she was not going to be starting her period any time in the near future, but that when we did feel she was getting close, we would prepare her a bag to keep in her backpack and that we would go over how to use the necessities.
Begrudgingly, I smelled her pits and smelled nothing except the tearless soap she uses as a body wash. She was relentless in her request for deodorant, so I found her an all natural deodorant she could use if she was feeling self conscious. The one thing we could not agree on was the bra. She insisted she had “buds” and needed one. Then exclaimed she was uncomfortable running in gym because she could feel them moving. Of course, she said in order for her to be more comfortable, she just needed to wear a bra. So, I went with it, and told her we could go shopping.
I love my daughter. She is sweet, kind, caring, funny, compassionate, and outgoing.
What my little tween lacks a little of is tact. As we strolled through the department store, she yelled to me from across the aisles,
MOOOOMMMMM, where are the BRRRRAAAASSSSS??
My face turned pink, and she laughed and didn’t mind that a few heads turned to look our way because she just announced what she was shopping for. Together, we found a bra we both could agree on, and she was ecstatic.
It was funny to revisit, “Are You There God…” from the other side of the equation. Instead of being the nervous, hopeful, budding tween, I was the mom to the tween.
This book from my adolescence reminded me of what my daughter was going through. Back then, the book helped me know I wasn’t the ONLY one going through the changes that happen during puberty. This book brought me comfort. Other girls my age were having the same questions that I was. I wasn’t alone. I am incredibly thankful that my daughter is open and willing to share her worries and fears with me now, and I’m glad I can still remember what it’s like to be a tween. It is my hope that our relationship is always this open, and my daughter always has her carefree, open attitude.
For this past birthday, this same daughter asked for a belly shirt- because to her, they, “look cool,” high heeled sneakers- because according to her, they are fancy, a new American Girl Doll- because she is still my little girl, and a trip to New York City- because, well, who doesn’t want to go to NYC.