Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Puberty Workshop for 4th Grade Girls???
Remember way, way, way back in the days when the entire school would annually get rounded up into the auditorium for "the video"? We all laughed when the huge projector would come down and we'd get to learn all about our bodies and sex, the terror of VD, and the curse. You know the one where the sperm danced, I tried to find it on Youtube and can't (I'd love to see it now). Well, fast forward 30+ years and you have "Puberty Workshops". Students are invited with their parents, boys workshop was at 6:30 and girls at 7:30.
We walk in and it's all 9 and 10 year old girls with their mothers and one brave father. The instructor is this little mousy woman about 40 years old, and I do mean mousy, she must have been picked because little girls can relate to her voice. She starts out by letting the girls know that while she may be in charge of the workshop they each had with them "experts". This I loved. She constantly referred to the parents as "experts" when she got to questions that were a bit out of her realm (will get to those later). Then she begins with the basic questions to test her audience: Who knows what puberty is? What is menstruation? What is a cycle? Kids are raising their hands and there are the occasional giggles. Until she whips out "Puberty Girl".
"Puberty Girl" is a poster sized post-it of an outline of a girl. The fun starts when she asks the girls to make "PB" go through puberty right before their eyes. The question: what things happen to a girl to let her know she's going through puberty? For each correct answer, she had that young lady come up and draw the answer. First answer was hair. Maddy sank down in her chair like the woman was talking specifically about her. Girls went up and drew hair on legs, arms, armpits, stomachs, and one very brave girl drew one long swiggle of pubic hair. The moms were hysterical when one girl muttered, "I wish I only had one long one!"
The girls went down the line adding hips, breast (and the need for training bras), pimples, sweat, body odor, and finally the dreaded period. Yes, a little girl went up and drew three tiny droplets of red blood. Maddy turns to me with her eyes big as saucers, "How old were you, Mom?" I told that I was 9 when I got mine, she nearly fainted, "But, I'm 10! That means any day now!!" Ugh, so not ready! I mean me!
We had a pretty good 20 minutes of straight menstrual cycle talk with drawings to back up the explanations. WC (Workshop chic) was a decent artist, I'll leave it at that! After she explained all that it was open question and answer time (she gave the girls index cards for anonymous questions for the end). Would you believe a little, yes little, girl raised her hand to ask, "Is it true that you get Bulimic when you have your period?" Her mother turned 10 shades of pink when all the other mothers turned around to find the source of the question. WC quickly had to explain what that was and that the little girl should have some talk time with her expert.
All the mommies got great joy whenever she referred to childbearing waaaayyyyyyyyyy into their futures with each mommy adding, "Yeah, when you're thirty". And remember what a good artist she was? When the question, "How do the babies come out?", she pointed directly at the tiny hole, and I'd say about 90% of the girls cried out, "But that's so small it has to hurt!" Mommies just smiled and smiled while we each nodded, "Yep!"
Now my final piece of this workshop story still has my jaw on the floor. Pictures are worth a thousand words, well then this WC successfully burned an image into each of these little girls minds when the anonymous question came up, "What is the clitoris for?" First, she blushed! Thought she was experienced and heard everything, right? Well, picture not just what she says but how she says it: "God made us women very lucky (pause) because the clitoris is well, just for (pause, eyes closed, sigh, mini-shudder) pleasure." I thought I was imagining things until I looked at the mom behind me who had her nose flared up and her eyes bulging out of her head. Seriously?!?! I don't think any of the girls caught it, let alone understood it, but, I still have no real words for this WC. Am I being irrational? Is it too much to expect a little, what's the word I'm looking for?....SELF-CONTROL!!!
Luckily their 4th graders and their attention span after an hour started to drift and she gave them handouts to do with their experts and we hightailed it out of there. I...somebody fill in the blanks for me because I'm speechless about her final Q&A...