Tuesday, April 9, 2013

return to sender...

'Return to sender...
Return to sender, address unknown.
No such person, no such zone.'

It's the only thing that was going through my head last week...

Not:  'Yeah - it's spring break!'

Not: 'Woot, woot - eight days with the girls!'

'Return to sender…

Return to sender, address unknown.
No such person, no such zone.'

Why, WHY, your probably asking yourself am I singing an Elvis song. 

Last week we received the one thing we didn't want at this house.  The monthly bill.  

...The *first* monthly bill...

And you know, if I could - I would just. send. it. back!

'Return to sender… address unknown.'

So there you have it.  The lousy euphemism…. the elephant in the room.
Why am I writing about it, this intimate crossroads of childhood to adulthood?
Because, I think it's the one thing we are all somewhat terrified about.  

I know I was.  

How will our daughter's handle it? (how will *we* handle it?)  Believe it or not, it wasn't as terrifying as I anticipated, because we were prepared… we had talked about it.  She knew what to expect.  I think *I* still needed to be prepared, but she was cool… as a matter of fact, she was better then cool. She was amazing.  Without going into too much detail about our experience, let me share some practical advice to help smooth the way for you and your daughter. 

~ The Talk:  Start talking-to your daughter about what to expect.  No, eight is *not* too young to start bringing up the subject.  Get a book -a friendly book.  Read it with her.  Look through it with her.  Leave it with her - she will look through it on her own.  However you feel comfortable… just make sure she has access to a book about her body.  There are a LOT of books out there.  Good books.  Bad books.  I suggest before you grab book and leave it with her, look at it.  Don't just flip through the pages, really look at it - read it - make sure it is appropriate for your daughter.  The book I had gotten for my oldest daughter wasn't necessarily the best book for Emma… the pictures (although drawn) I felt were just too graphic.  After looking at many more books, I found 'Just For Girls - A Book About Growing Up'.  This is a sweet book about growing up, with cute illustrations describing what will happen in an easy to understand way.  

Just for Girls - a book about growing up.

~  The Name Game:  Don't use silly phrases, i.e. 'your monthly bill'.  Call it what it is.  Menstruation.  Period.  Whatever your comfortable with - although I do have to admit, Fran and Emma are calling it 'The P.'  Fine.  When I was writing this, out of curiosity I decided to google slang for menstruation, and I have to tell you - it seems as if there is a never ending supply of slang terms for a woman's monthly functions.  Yeah, let's keep that out of our daughter's vocabulary.  The less embarrassed you are to talk about the natural functions of your daughters body (your body) the less embarrassed she will be about them.  Talk openly to her.  Encourage her to ask questions, and don't shy away from the answers.  A note to the wise - it is important to let her know this is a *private* function, one that is not to be shared with the entire world (yes, I do see the irony here).  Just make sure to let her know it is not necessary to inform the store clerk about her period... or visiting guests... the postman... the next caller... well - I think you get the point.  Some things are meant to be - private.  

~  The Products:  Get ahead of the game... go on out and grab some products now - it's okay.  Have them on hand.  I didn't have any.  I thought I *still* had time!  When Emma approached me, I was at a loss.  Even though Isabella had been through this twelve short years earlier, it's as if that never happened.  Suddenly I was transported back to the 1970's, and all I could think of was a belt and 1" thick pads!  Thankfully for Emma, a few quick emails to a friend set me straight.  

Kotex 'U' for Tweens

Kotex has a new product line branded towards tweens called 'U'.  They are smaller and more comfortable, and made to fit a younger body - the best thing about them?  They come in awesome, brightly wrapped packages, making it fun to choose the color of the hour - seriously... it was fun to decide which color to choose!  On a side note - the Kotex 'U' line also has tampons if your daughter is ready for those.

Looking for for the 'all in one' kit?  Dot Girl First Period Kit is everything a girl needs for her first period.  It's sweet, and comes with a little booklet, a few pads, carrying case - well everything a girl needs for her first period.  Practicality wise - I don't think my girl... or any girl will use the carrying case, because who want to announce to the world that you have your period by carrying your pads around in a case that says 'Dot Girls'.  And, the pads are in boring old white wrappers.  However, it is not without its merits... it's a fun little kit for first timers to go through.  My bet is with the Kotex line though - go shopping for a nice little bag to put her pads in.  (Emma has a furry leopard one.)
~  The Mess:  There's no two ways around it, if your daughter is using pads - even tampons - her period is going to be messy.  You will more than likely have to sit with her the first couple of days to assist her, so she knows where to place her pads (often times once will not be enough).  Stress Cleanliness!  Explain to her that there can be an odor associated with her period, and it is paramount to keep herself clean.  I suggest investing in flushable wipes.  If you are still working on hygiene issues, remind her to *always* wash her hands.  If these things are explained to her clearly, she will be on board.  To help your daughter when you are not there, you may need to go back to a temporary visual chart that she can refer to - this is all dependent on her age and abilities.  

Dot Girls First Period Kit

~  The Schedule:  Help her learn how to keep a schedule.  Not only is she going to need to learn how to track when she first started her period and when it ended, she is going to  need to know when to change her pad.  Knowing when to change her pad is something that doesn't come naturally.  If she has an iPod or phone, set an alarm to go off every two hours.  If she has a watch, set that.  Make sure you are also keeping track of the time, so you can remind her/take her to the bathroom - she is going to need help with this!  When she goes to school, make sure an adult at school knows what is going on.  If she has an aide, inform the aide.  If she feels more comfortable, request that she uses the restroom in the nurses office (you can even request that she keep her supplies there).  Again, in the beginning, she may need an adult at school to give her a reminder.  This of course depends on the age and ability of your daughter… this may or may not be necessary - just know that these are options available.

~  A Pair and A Spare:  In the beginning - heck, at anytime, it's always good to have a spare pair of underwear and jeans tucked away in your daughter's locker just in case.  There isn't anything more horrifying than to have an 'accident' at school and not be able to anything about it.  This doesn't just happen to girls on the spectrum - this can happen to anyone, and is just practical advice.

All the practical stuff aside - your daughter will get through her period... better than you think.  As capable as I think Emma is, I didn't give her enough credit.  That's my bad.  I kept thinking to myself:  'How is she going to do this?'  Maybe I should have been asking myself, 'How am *I* going to do this?'  Emma is at the cross roads of childhood and adulthood....   just last week I watched in wonder as Em nonchalantly told her younger sister:  'Fran, it's not a big deal - I'm growing up.', and then ran upstairs to play stuffed animals with her for two hours!

I have not read this book, but looks good:

The Period Book

some helpful links from kotex:

*Please note, prior to writing this post I spoke with Emma - I wanted to make sure I would not be breaching her privacy in any way.  The majority of the information is provided from my viewpoint and does not all pertain to her.  Some of these strategies have been culled from current and previous experiences, as well as conversations with our special ed advisor.  I have not been paid, nor have I received any of the products referred to in this post.  These are all products that we have either have, used or researched.

Title Inspiration:  
Elvis Presley:  Return To Sender


  1. I'm so thankful for boys :) Sound like y'all did great though!

    1. i dreamed of boys... the last one was supposed to be a boy - in my mind. ;)


  2. YAAAAAAY for boys!!!

    But good for you, you've got it under control. Nice work!

    1. i will trade you one boy for one girl. come on, let's do it - come to the dark side!

      like i said - i should of given her more credit... she did great! i was the one that was more anxious!

  3. Sorry, but I have to agree with the other 2... Thank God for boys!!!

    I love the way you did this post, I love the way you put the information together and hit on every point without needing to go into detail about your daughter's experience. It says a lot to me that you respected her privacy above all else and included her in the decision to write the post. That she is ok with sharing the general subject says a lot about her self confidence. Good job, mama.

    and, thank you for putting this out there for the ones who are just as nervous as you were. I know it was hard for you. <3

    1. thanks mac -

      i think this was one of those moments that i was truly worried about! and yet, i shouldn't have doubted her. again, my bad. regardless of neurology... these are the concerns i think all parents have... how will their daughters deal with this. it's always helpful to know someone else's experiences. :)

  4. I'm trying to imagine if I had to do this with either one of my boys. It's hard enough to get them to take a shower! Geez! Maybe it's a good thing I have adopted all of my friend's daughters and didn't actually have one myself. We'd probably kill each other. Great Post! Will share!

    1. thanks mama! don't worry - we still have the shower battle as well! i think that's just a general 'kid' thing! yes, girls certainly are a completely different makeup, aren't we? :)

      thanks for sharing!

  5. Yay I'm not the only one thats not fully in the boys club. We do have one girl. But crap yep its coming sooner or later.