My 5th-grade daughter brought home a note from school the other day informing parents that our students would be watching “The Movie.” You know, THE movie.
We’ve been through this once already with our middle school son (here's a link to a post I wrote back then) and except for some awkward giggling from him and my husband (good grief), we handled it pretty well, I think. We had a very open conversation together pre-watching the short video and have continued those talks since.
So, I’m not sure why last week’s note threw me for a loop. I’m pretty sure my own 4th grade Movie watching experience played a factor. Suddenly I was back in Mrs. Hefner’s classroom packed with ten year-old girls. My pulse raced, my skin got hot and I didn’t want to look anyone in the eyes.
It’s because, as much as we might try to argue otherwise, The Movie for girls is different from The Movie for boys. Having parented through each, trust me on this.
Besides some minor physiological changes to note for the future, the boys’ only immediate takeaways are: change your socks, take a shower, and wear deodorant.
The girls’ Movie, however, is a whole thing. A beautiful, miraculous thing, but a WHOLE thing nonetheless.
There are gobs of immediate, noticeable, physical changes, plus a whole host of harder-to-see, under-the-surface emotional ones. All because of hormones.
Which leads me to this question:
Why can’t puberty happen in our 20s when we’re (hopefully) mature enough to handle all of the ups and downs, when we can rationally tell ourselves to cool it when the crazy is getting out of control, and when we’re emotionally ready to face the possibility of having a child?
Instead, we go through major emotional and physical changes at the same time we’re navigating a perilous peer landscape. Our voices crack and we get our periods right in the season of our highest self-consciousness. And we’re asking pre-teens to start bathing regularly when they can barely remember their lunch.
Come on, Lord, seriously! This puberty thing seems to jump the gun by about 10 years.
When my daughter gets her first period (hold me), she’ll be physically ready to have a baby, yet nowhere close to emotionally, spiritually, or financially prepared.
And here’s another obstacle: the thought of kissing a boy totally grosses her out.
She COULD have a baby, but there are about 10,000 steps between here and there, none of which will be happening in the near future. And so, in the meantime, she endures a monthly hassle.
See what I mean? There’s absolutely no reason for puberty to happen at 11. Which got me to thinking:
What if puberty happened in your 20s?
- If puberty happened in your 20s, teen pregnancy wouldn’t even be a thing. (And neither would Teen Mom or Teen Mom OG. My apologies to the fans.)
- If puberty happened in your 20s, it would be up to you to change your socks and wear deodorant and you’d only alienate yourself should you choose not to. Plus, you’d be responsible for all the laundry (or lack thereof).
- If puberty happened in your 20s, you could buy your own feminine supplies.
- If puberty happened in your 20s, your friends would already know and love you, so your acceptance wouldn’t be based on your height, bra size, fresh smell or skin clarity.
- If puberty happened in your 20s, you could spend a half an hour in the shower if you wanted to. (Good luck with that water bill, Cupcake.)
- If puberty happened in your 20s, a mustache would be cool. (In 7th grade, it's really not.)
- If puberty happened in your 20s, you could add hours back to your life with the time you’d save not shaving your legs in your teens. Not to mention avoiding several unfortunate scars.
- If puberty happened in your 20s, you could experience your roller coaster of emotions living on your own somewhere away from your parents, the people who have only loved and cared about you from the moment you were born and need another eye roll or door slam like they need a hole in the head.
But, alas, I don’t think an overhaul to the whole timing of puberty is in my control and probably not happening anytime soon.
Instead, I guess I’ll figure out how to walk through The Movie and these years with grace, teaching my daughter to embrace the miracle along with the hassle. To understand that just because she COULD doesn’t mean she SHOULD. And to stand confidently in the amazing person God has made her to be even while that person is literally changing from the inside out.
We’ll leave her 20s to figuring out what she wants to do for the rest of her life. No biggie.