Wednesday 20 January 2010

Getting hairy - peripuberty hits the Bonkers House

There’s a whiff of puberty in the air. Hairs are appearing. Hair gel is being used in industrial quantities. ‘Don’t come in, I’m changing,’ is a common refrain. How strange that this body, which I grew within mine, which I have always known as well, if not better, than my own, will become something unknown. It seems highly unlikely that I will ever see my son’s willy again. How strange but really, how natural and good. I always knew that you ‘borrow’ children, that they aren’t yours and that the main purpose of parenthood is to allow them, in their own time, to move away from you, to be independent, to be their own people. But it seems to be coming so soon.
I’ve always tried to be frank and down-to-earth about sex stuff but seriously I have very little idea about the mechanics of boys and adolescence. Spouting breasts and periods, copious weeping and sulking – yes, those I get (those I’ve had). But wet dreams, erections, voices breaking – nope. Way beyond my field of expertise.
Fathers should step in at this point but Adrian is still pretty vague about human biology. ‘Hormones – what are hormones? We don’t have hormones do we?’ (we being men). And (my favourite): ‘Men don’t have hips, do they?’ So there was absolutely no point in asking him to do the fatherly thing. Hence I did what I always do when confronted with something new and potentially problematic – I bought a book.
What’s Happening To Me? (Usborne) looked suitably unintimidating and turned out to be a little cracker. Straightforward, blunt (‘you will start to sweat more and may smell’), light and humorous. I handed it over in a pretty casual way. ‘Was buying a few books and thought this looked interesting.’
And that, I thought, was that. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe the hairy legs were something else entirely – werewolf syndrome?
‘Did you ever take a look at that book?’ I asked a few weeks later.
‘Oh yes. I’ve read it about five times.’
Well, who’dda thought? If you’re the kind of parent who finds the words ‘scrotum’ and ‘semen’ don’t trip easily off the tongue, I’d heartily recommend this (there’s a girls version too but I can’t vouch for that).
It’s also teaching me a bit about girls too. Apparently girls ‘don’t need to shave their faces’ (tell that to the women who regularly get their taches waxed). And ‘some girls trim their pubic hair, so that it doesn’t poke out of their swimsuits’. Tell that to my London friends who wouldn’t know a pubic hair if it floated in their mojitos.
Actually, the more I read of the book, the more I realised that what’s going on in our house probably isn’t puberty proper but more of a peripuberty (if there can be such a thing). But it won’t be long. In the meantime, I’m beginning to think I may have missed out on a few essential growing up lessons. Maybe I’ll buy the girl version for myself.


English Mum said...

Haha have been doing similar things in this house. Except I bought 'Living with a Willy'. Slightly concerned, though, to find that the page seemingly most used so far is the 'tatooing' one.

Oh dear.

Unknown said...

Ha ha, I may have to look into both of these books. My son is at the total fascination with his willy stage and was just last night standing in the bathroom starkers telling me to come look at the bone in his willy.

Rosie Scribble said...

Brilliant post. I have the girls version although my daughter is only six. Rather alarmingly my parents never told me anything at all about puberty and issues of sex were strictly off limits. So I bought that book to educate myself, so then I can educate my daughter. I want to get it right this time, just like you are doing with your son.

Shh-Shh said...

hillarious.... happening in my house to.
Yes my boy has started to sprout pubic hair, he is quite proud of the 3 he has!! lol
but sadly the regular washing and bathing has not become part of his daily routine... keep telling him he smells!! :-s hehehe but to no avail definately going through the grunge stage !!!

(WilmslowCare and shababysha my 2 twitter accounts.)

Sally Townsend said...

They go away for a while and then they return but your post has made all the memories come flooding back, such a difficult time but made easier by love, understanding and forthrightness. Wait till the first girlfriend comes along !!!

Mary Poppins said...

I really must look out for the girl's version. Thank you for sharing. Unfortunately my 8 year old DD has been under the guidance of the local children's hospital a couple of times for the possibility of her entering puberty at a VERY early age. She developed the hair down there, see I can't say it, at age 5, so a VERY worrying time for us. Gladly after many tests it seemed her case didn't warrant any treatment and that probably she shall be an early developer, and believe me if here hormones are anything to go by at the moment, we are definately already there! 8 seems so Young and little, but I have to deal with it, yet I am finding it all rather stressful truth be known, she is so sensitive and something she said last night really got to me

" Mummy I feel like there is a wall in front of me, a wall behind me, and a wall at both sides of me, I feel hot, trapped and I can't get out, and I don't know why"

Any recommendations for us mums !

I have the boy thing to think of too at a later stage with DS, who at 3 has the most amazing fascination with his peanut

Hope you have a calm ride of it with your son, and glad that he has read the book


Tattieweasle said...

No I am a looooooooong way from there thank heavens! However I do remember my Mum putting THE book in my bedroom I was SO embarrassed!!!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Off to buy that book TODAY. We have the same story here... hooray. Now I can do it right as well! xx

Nickie O'Hara said...

I've been ever so grateful for my husbands blunt nature during the puberty period with the middle child. He knows he can ask his dad ANY question and he'll get an honest answer. It's worked in our favour so far but I can see the youngest one trying to find the most unsuitable question for when it's "his" time...

Fennie said...

The hardest thing for me was when, at the age of about 12 or so, the children (both girls and very close) suddenly decided I was no longer their best friend and that a trip to the beach or the shops or making something together was the best way of spending an afternoon. Normal growing up but I felt bereft - sense of loss, just as you describe.

Molly Potter said...

Arrggh my field of work...I'm having a busman's holiday.

Let's talk About Sex by Robie H Harris is still my favourite. Many parents tell me they had it over to their early teen and never see it again. I love how it's worded. Covers everything too.

Can't say any more - I'm not being paid.

Annette Piper said...

I'm not far off this stage I think. *sigh* They grow up so fast...

Reasons said...

Had to laugh...just wrote a post about buying books for all issues. Will certainly add this one to the collection as mum of 2 girls and youngest a 10 yr old boy on the brink.

Debbie said...

OMG-going through this at my house too! I also bought my son a book! I am a single mom and he DID not want to talk to me about this! his dad is in his life, but has not broached the in comes the book! I also have a pre-puberty daughter..and I actually have learnt things!! LOL!!!!

CAMILLA said...

Hi Jane.!

Remember when my son at the age of about ten said, mummy... no need to keep checking on me with bath water, me fearing that he would drown if I left him, yes moi ever the worrying one.!

Thanks for the tip on that book Jane, may come in handy with grandson soon.!

Great writing as ever Jane.!