Well, THAT was unexpected.

I was recently fortunate enough to have an evening with just my darling daughter Isabelle.  She had been struggling with behavior at school (erm, ever seen Mean Girls??) but has made drastic improvements in the last month or so.  Yes, I am aware that there was a 2 week break in that month… and she was sick for a good week as well.  Whatever, I take what I can get.

Anyway, every few months we get a catalogue from the seizure inducing, so bright your eyes will bleed tween super store Justice.  Isabelle shrieks with delight and spends the next few days memorizing the sequin filled pages and deciding on the over priced made in China trinket she cannot live without.  This time it was a glorified beanie baby named Darling.  One of the creepy ones with the big bug eyes.  The upside to this is, that for a week or so at least, Isabelle is willing to do any chore I can come up with in hopes of earning a few quarters to make her little dream come true.

So, she raised the money and we made a date for a Mommy-Daughter night.  I picked her up from school and we headed to the mall.  She directed me thru Target, past the pretzel place and to her “favorite store in the whole world”.  We got the fried rice she requested for dinner, sitting at the little table like she always wants to do.  After dinner and gum from the candy machine, Isabelle and I stopped into Claire’s so she could fawn over all the jewelry and purses and polish.

When we left the mall it was my turn for a treat!  We were going grocery shopping!  What?  Not your idea of a treat?  Trust me, an opportunity to go with one child rather than three in tow is very much a treat.  We made our way through the store, chatting and just enjoying one another’s company.  I just had a couple of things left to grab…

And then it happened.

My baby grew up all at once.

I grabbed a box of tampons.  While I have been pregnant a good portion of Isabelle’s life, it was not a first time occurence.  But this time was different.  She has asked a few times what they were/what they were for and I was easily able to change the subject or just tell her “big people stuff” and that was that.  Not so this time.  She saw them talking about it on tv and wanted to know what it was all about.

Seriously??  She is barely SIX. 

I should totally have at the very least a few years before having to deal with this.  Gah.

We were almost to the checkout, so I told her we would talk about it once we were on the road.  Yes, I was buying myself time.  I could tell by the look in her eye she wouldn’t forget.  Of course, she started peppering me with questions about the groceries, if she could have gum, candy bar, lip gloss, and everything else they oh-so-convieniently place by the check out so by the time we were settled in for the ride home I still had not been able to think about how exactly to explain menstruation to my six-year-old.

What comes to mind?  Why chickens of course.  Why not?  They are so human like.

Our conversation:

“So Mom, are you going to tell me about periods now??”

Do I really have to???  I am not one that will lie about things, or make it some big scary secret.  But there is such a thing as age appropriateness.  Not exactly sure how that fits into a six-year-old and menstruation though.

“Sure honey.  So, you know how chickens lay eggs right?  And some eggs make baby chickens and some don’t, they are just regular eggs?”

apprehensively, “Yeahhhh”

“Well, women make eggs too.  Actually, all girls have a bunch of itty bitty eggs inside them.  But they are so tiny we can’t see them.  When you become a woman a long time from now, about every month your body has to either get rid a of a few eggs, or make a baby.  So if your body doesn’t make the eggs into a baby, they come out as old blood from your vagina.  It is completely normal, all women do it about every month.  It doesn’t hurt, it is just your body doing what it is supposed to do.”

Holy crap.  I am not looking forward to being woke up at 2am because she is having a nightmare about laying bloody eggs.  That may not have been the *best* explanation…

Isabelle, “Oh.  Ok.”

To the parents of Isabelle’s friends: I also told her this isn’t really something we talk about with other people, that her questions should come to me.  If her friends bring it up, they are supposed to talk to their moms.

And that was the end of it.  Well, other than her asking if she and her brothers were once eggs.

Thank God- seriously, PRAISE THE LORD- she didn’t ask how the eggs become babies.

Parents PLEASE read!!

My five year old daughter rode the bus home yesterday.  The problem?  I didn’t know it.

She wasn’t *quite* this happy when I got home last night 😦

Now, this post is not at ALL about HOW that happened.  I know the sequence of events that led up to it, and I am confident it will not happen again.  I am comfortable with the procedures in place to keep this from happening.  It was just a fluke.  There is no blame, no anger.  That is not what this is about so please don’t try to take it there.

What I want to talk to you about it what happened after she got off the bus.

She pulled her key out of her backpack and went inside to wait.  She watched some tv.  She had a snack.

Thank God- praise God- that we had conversations about this.  Thank God I had given her a key!  She doesn’t ride the bus home often, but a little over a month ago I decided she should have a key just in case.  When we talked about it I told her that, while it would never be planned for her to be home by herself, it could happen… I told her that I could have a flat tire or something.  Nothing scary.  Then we joked about her having the run of the house- and tv!  No brothers there to demand Mighty Machines or He-Man.  Plus no one to dictate her choice of snack (though she would probably choose an apple over raiding the freezer for ice cream.  Not sure how she is my kid sometimes).  Fortunately we talked about it a few times, but always in a light and fun way.

I know she was scared last night.  She was obviously very upset when we finally made it home… about 2 hours after she made it home AND about 15min after it got pretty dark.  I thought she was at her school, so we had gone there to pick her up!  The drive home from the school was the longest of my life, but because I knew we had these talks and had plans in place, I was not freaking out.  I was just anxious to get there and hug my baby.

She sobbed a pretty good relieved cry when we got home, but she was fine in just a few short minutes.  Of course we talked about it most of the evening.  She was pretty sick of hearing how proud we were of her by night’s end!  After she had ample time to calm down, we went over a few more instructions in case it were to ever happen again (praying it doesn’t!).  Those may have included doing some laundry and sweeping the floor to help her pass the time… What?  Keeping her busy will surely make her less anxious!  In the end though, she was relaxed enough about it all to joke, even last night.

I am not a big “what if” scenario kind of person.  I really just don’t see the point.  But I would have died to think that my baby girl sat out in the cold all by herself for almost two hours with no clue what was happening.  I think that knowing it was something we had covered made all of the difference for both of us.  Even though I never thought it would happen, it did.  The best laid plans…

Now, all of that said, I know I can never cover every what-if with my kids.  Nor would I want to!  Talk about a way to pave your kid’s path to zoloft!  But empowering kids so they can handle unexpected situations is an awesome thing.

This, by the way, is not at all me patting myself on the back.  I really hope that I am the idiot parent for waiting a month into the school year to have this conversation with my child.  I pray that every person that reads this has already gone over all of this with their wee ones.  If not, I hope our little fiasco will change that.

The other thing I learned- don’t judge.  Nothing wrong with a 5yo having a cell phone!  Only kinda kidding.

No, I am not buying my daughter a cell phone!  I am going to actually plug a phone into our landline that we have never, ever used.  Oh, and teach her what a regular phone looks like and how to use one!

*Also please know the administration has contacted me, is following up on exactly how this happened and what additional procedures can be put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.  Good things will come of this!