Earlier this week my sister-in-law called to share the good news that she was expecting her second baby. She talked to my husband first, and I think he reacted with the proper level of enthusiasm. Then I talked with her, and I think I displayed the appropriate happiness at the good news (although my excitement level was a bit subdued, because I had heard them talking and knew it was coming). Our chat moved on to other topics since it had been a while since we had talked. Amanda came upstairs, so I thought I'd let Aunt Dana share her good news personally. I heard Amanda's side of the conversation as they discussed summer plans and her track camp, and then Amanda brought me the phone. Thinking that Aunt Dana didn't take the opportunity to share, I said, "Ask her if she has something to tell you," but I got the "tween face" from Amanda.
If you have a child who is in the double digits, or so close that she's already planning her party, as Amanda is, I probably don't have to explain the "tween face." If you are several years off, or several years removed, I'll describe the face that Amanda makes when faced with a topic that is off-limits: a scrunched up nose and a quick purse of the lips with cheeks slightly flushed in embarrassment or annoyance.
Many things inspire "the face." It could be boys, her new undergarments, a lecture about responsibility, or me trying to bring up puberty.
Talk about puberty and sex is strictly off-limits as far as Amanda is concerned. I may be somewhat to blame, having ascribed to the same parenting philosophy that my mom used when I was growing up--keeping it light, which often means poking fun. I bought her the Care and Keeping of You, and offered it to her to read last fall. She read some of it, but then it fell by the wayside.
But recently all that changed: perhaps it was her heightened awareness of the trash in the bathroom trashcans at that particular time of the month. Perhaps it had to do with spring, like the pull of the tide at full moon. Maybe one of her friends said something about it, or maybe my many many efforts to chip in to this line of conversation finally made a crack. . . .
Recently Amanda asked me, "Do you know where that American Girl book is?"
I gave it to her, and she spent the afternoon holed up in her room reading it.
Later I asked her if she wanted to talk about anything, and asked specifically about her period--making sure that she was comfortable with the facts (although I don't expect it to happen for at least a year, if not two). I got a little bit of the "tween face," but since she seemed open to a little more discussion, I asked if she had any questions.
"What about bras? When will I get one of those?" she asked.
"Do your friends wear them?" I asked her.
"I don't know. Some I guess," she answered giving me a full "tween face."
I moved on quickly before the opportunity passed: "I was thinking that it was probably about time for that. We'll probably buy some before you start 5th grade for sure." This summer with the thin T-shirts and clothes, it became obvious that it was probably a good time for an extra layer.
So back to the conversation with her aunt: I asked her, "Did Aunt Dana tell you anything?" and she answered in a very embarrassed way, "Yes, she told me that she was planning to have another baby."
Apparently she "gets" the connection, so now pregnancy is off limits as well.
So Aunt Dana, if Amanda did not react in the right way (since I didn't even hear her acknowledge the news from listening to her side of the conversation), I apologize. You see, she's a tweenager, and some topics are off-limits. Fortunately for you, since she'll be over ten years older than the new baby, soon we'll be able to put her babysitting skills to use. So, you go ahead and gestate, but let's not talk about it, okay?