Kitchen talk

30 Mar

So two of my black girl friends and I were chilling in the kitchen and eventually I thought I’d just go out and ask. How did they learn about periods?

They were instantly forthcoming! I was surprised, but it actually figures. We all grow up and at some point we learn about these things, yet we never get to share about it.

Both their moms trusted they would learn about sex in school so they were never told about it before then. I on the other hand got told about sex by my mom when I was four and she was pregnant with my little sister. It was cool because sex was always part of life in my mind, and there was no big shock at that age, you just take everything in your stride. Both of my friends said they’d figured a lot of it out by the time it was covered in school, and they would have liked it if their parents had discussed it with them!

And then we moved on to periods. We were laughing and talking so loudly, I was afraid some of the guys would hear us, but then friend N said no! Let them hear! Why should it freak them out? And indeed, why should it. So we continued as loudly as we wanted!

Friend K says her mother recommended that she use pads until she is 21. She tried a tampon once, but couldn’t even figure out how to put it in, not really, and then she agreed with her mother rather to just use pads. She gives a kind of freaked-out shiver. Tampons are weird, she laughs! She opened one once and put water on it and watched it expand and thought, NO. WAY. am I putting it in my body if it’s going to do that!

I find this interesting, because friend K grew up in the city so I expected her to be the more liberal one. She was taught strict hygiene rules (she’s always coming out with a rule I don’t know about, like you can’t wash clothes in the kitchen sink, ever). In her family absolutely everyone washes their own underwear by hand. That’s funny, because in my family we would even toss a slightly bloody pair of panties in the wash if we thought it wasn’t too bad. Then our domestic worker lady does the laundry. She folds everyone’s underwear, including my dad’s. That’s unimaginable to friend K.

Friend N shared with us that she always hated having to go buy it when she was young! She is from a more traditional family, in some senses, but she is wonderfully open and frank about things. The first time she tried a tampon – she and friend K both nickname them “bullets” – she didn’t understand how it works so she just put it in her panties. Of course it leaked all over the place and she got completely upset the first time! She figured it out eventually and now she swears by “bullets”.

N’s brother openly buys his girlfriend tampons. She says once they were in the supermarket together and he kept trying to hide the purchase from his little sister, until in the car she asked him what he had there. He looked embarrassed about it, but she was chilled about it. My boyfriend would never buy me tampons, I would never even consider asking him! We think that’s because my boyfriend and I don’t have sex and her brother and his girlfriend do. So he knows her more intimately, while there are some things that are still very private for me and my boyfriend.

They asked me about me. I knew at what age I could expect my first period, but I didn’t think it would come right when my mom went overseas for a month! So I had to use the bad sanitary pads she and I had bought Just In Case. I couldn’t face my mom’s tampon stash, not at 12. Eventually the pads ran out, or something, and I mustered up the courage to tell my dad about it. I was also concerned because I didn’t realise you have your period for so long!! I guess I thought a day or two. So he confirmed that it’s pretty normal for my mom to have five-day periods or whatever. It was good being able to talk to him about it.

But the BEST story comes, again, from our giggling friend N. She says that when she was a young teen her dad was going to the store and she asked him to buy her some pads. He was awkward about it, but agreed. He must have had no CLUE about periods at all, not even his wife’s periods, because when he returned, he dumped A BIG PACK OF BABY NAPPIES on his daughter’s table and said gruffly, “Well, here you go.”

We laughed so hard at that, if the boys hadn’t heard us before, they certainly did then!!

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