I was thinking this morning that my little girl will eventually come to know that if it’s sunny out, she’s going to need to dress warmly, and if it’s snowing she might be too warm if she really bundles herself up. I got yelled at by a Scotsman once for making the observation that it was snowing heavily so it was probably not too cold out. He told me that didn’t make any sense, but it’s something I’ve known for a long time.
And this observation got me thinking that there are a lot of things that I want to pass on to her, but I have to figure out how to best arrange it so she realizes on her own:
1) Sometimes you just have to let things be funny.
There will be a time in her life when she will get easily offended and take everything personally, but, hopefully sooner than later, she will realize that it’s not worth the time and effort of getting offended by everything. Save your energy for the things people mean to hurt you with.
2) You will forget the little things.
Joe asked me last night if it was all drama and “worst-thing-evers” when I was a teenage girl, and when I thought about it, I couldn’t actually remember much of what it was like. I remember specific things and specific people, but the emotion has mostly gone out of my high school years from what I can tell – And I haven’t even hit my 10-year reunion yet.
3) Reading is a wonderful escape
I’ve been watching a lot of television over the past few weeks as I wait for this baby to decide when her birthday will be, and as a result I have seen a lot of commercials for Christmas toys. One that caught my attention was for a product that comes with a pen that reads-a-long with the child, and claims that it teaches them to read. The voice-over in the ad claims that it brings books to life. You know what brought books to life for me? My imagination. And it doesn’t need batteries.
4) There will always be people that are happiest when they have something to complain about.
It’s not worth interfering and trying to make them feel better, they don’t really want to feel better, they want to be angry so you might as well let them. There will also always be people who get into moods where they just want to be miserable (including me, though I am generally aware that I am in that mood).
5) Critical thinking is a magical tool that too many people lack.
When I got to college they started us off by teaching a short seminar on critical thinking. As we worked through what they were talking about, I wondered why exactly they were teaching us about media literacy and using your judgement because it was something I was already able to do. It didn’t occur to me that there were people who didn’t think that way. Now I know that my critical thinking skills were a gift from my parents (as frustrating as it was for my father to ask me to back up my arguments when I was 8 years old).
6) You will be better off if you figure out how to find and judge information on your own rather than asking for help every time you face an obstacle.
It is generally accepted that I am very good at my job. I believe the main reason is that when I started doing my job, I had no idea what I was doing. I had been presented with a task list and a bunch of new tools with no one to tell me how to really use them. There is nothing I hate more than appearing stupid and I certainly didn’t want to start out my new job that way, so my reaction was first to panic and then to figure these things out on my own. As a result, I have continued to be able to figure things out on my own, and when my first try doesn’t work, I figure out a second way that might work. It has made me a stronger person, and a better employee.
7) It’s also important to know that sometimes you just have to ask the question.
When I was in high school I generally stayed silent in class because I didn’t want to ask the questions swirling around in my brain and end up looking stupid because everyone understood it except me. When I got to college, I started raising my hand and asking those questions – and not only did I not feel stupid, I learned better because of it, and I helped other people who had been wondering the same things.
8 ) You don’t have to make yourself right, you just have to find the people who think you are
I spent a lot of high school wondering what was wrong with me and what I was going to have to change about myself to attract a boy’s attention. It turns out, nothing at all. I just had to find the right boy.
It’s going to be interesting watching her grow up. There a lot of things like this that I’ve learned that I want her to know right away, but I may just have to accept that she’s going to have to go through all the same processes that I did to figure all these things out. And now I have to learn how to best point her in the right direction.
Overall, I think she’s going to have a pretty good foundation.
Today I followed a link on Twitter that led to an article on this site, which is all about sexual education for teenagers – answering questions that they need answered when they aren’t comfortable turning to anything else.
It was an interesting article, but I was more interested in exploring the website itself. In fact, I have bookmarked it for future use with my own daughter, since I want her to be as informed as possible when it comes to something so important.
Sexual education is something that I know my own mother did very well. She explained the basics to my sister and me when we were quite young – in fact, I think, unfortunately, some people would have been shocked that she sat us down that early – but she knew it was important for us to know the differences between men and women and how babies are made. We also had at least one good book in the house that laid everything out for me.
I had sex ed in school starting with the differences between men and women when I was in Grade 1. I remember learning all about menstruation in Grade 3 or 4 – when they separated the boys and girls and we got to go into the coat room and watch a woman with a plastic model of the uterus and vulva. Throughout elementary and high school I learned all about sexual health and STIs. I took the time to listen and learn. Actually, I think my awareness of sexual health was what made me so very careful about my own choices, waiting until I was ready and had met the man that I eventually married, which I am still proud of, thank you very much.
I used to be fascinated reading Seventeen Magazine and seeing letters from girls my age and older who thought using a tampon meant they were no longer a virgin, or girls who had to write in and ask if French kissing their boyfriend meant they could be pregnant or if they could get pregnant the first time they had sex (I had known that was a myth for most of my life – it happened to Spike on Degrassi), or that they couldn’t get pregnant . How could these girls not know the answers to these questions?
But reading through this website I see even scarier questions, questions that cause me to do a double-take in some cases – like the girl who wrote in and asked whether she could be pregnant because she shook a man’s hand and then went to the bathroom and touched her underwear, or the guy who wrote in to ask if his girlfriend was telling the truth when she said that she had an abortion two years ago, but the pregnancy came back.
Reading through this website and seeing questions like this I am very happy to know the answers and I am determined that my own daughter will know, or at the very least won’t be afraid to ask me.
Sex is something that can lead to very uncomfortable discussions, especially between a parent and child, but it is also something that can have a major impact on your life. If I can make sure that my daughter is educated, and comfortable with the subject, that’s just another way to ensure that she will be as safe as she can be. I don’t want her to ever worry about being judged, and I don’t ever want her to put anything at risk because she doesn’t know the right answer. I want her to understand that sometimes there are no right answers, but that she has a safe place to come and talk it out if that’s what she needs to do. I want her to know what’s normal and that sometimes there aren’t any normals.
I certainly don’t intend to be her confidante and I don’t want to know anything and everything, but I also want to know that she’s not scared to come to me when she needs answers – even if all I can do is drop hints and try to point her in the right direction (like bookmarking that website for her or putting a couple of good books on her shelf).
It’s going to be something that takes some figuring out, but I think we’ll get there eventually.
I believe that knowledge is strength – something I believe I inherited from my mother – and I will do my best to give my daughter as much strength as I can before she has the opportunity to make life-changing decisions.