Thursday, May 29, 2014

Toilet Paper Bride Gone Bad

     My girls are now 8 and 5.  I have gotten to the point where I no longer micromanage bath time. I occasionally stick my head in to make sure they are cleaning what they are supposed to be cleaning, and not flooding the bathroom.  Mostly they are fine, but this past time they bathed together, not fine.
     Somehow they got the idea to play toilet paper bride in the shower.  They make veils out of the toilet paper, and pretend they are brides.  They didn't realize the toilet paper would dissolve when it hit the water.  Little pieces of toilet paper were stuck in their hair.
     Now, for those that don't know me personally, my girls's hair is the curliest of curly.  I should further add, I use Deva Curl's No-Poo, which is more of a conditioner specially designed to care for curls.
     My eldest tried to wash out the toilet paper with the No-Poo.  This had disastrous results.  It basically made a paper mache of little toilet paper bits that clung to their curls.
     My older daughter came down the stairs, towel on her head, crying. "You are going to be mad at me" she said.
     "What did you do, did you cut it?" I asked.
     "No" she sobbed.
     "Did you dye it?"
     "No" with extra sobbing now.
     At this point I thought, it can't be so bad if those more permanent options have been ruled out.  I went over to her and snatched off the towel, to reveal her white encrusted curls.  She wouldn't tell me what it was despite my prodding and repeated inquires.  Then the little one pokes her had down the stairs and I see that there has been a second victim.  The little one pipes up "It's toilet paper!" Lovely.
     I proceed to try to comb it out.  It's not really working. I figure it will be easier if it's dry, so I send them to bed.
     The next morning, we work on it, and get some of it out, but each and every individual curl is encrusted in white.  My daughters fight us as we attempt to brush it out, and this is taking a lot of time and it's soon to be time for school.  My eldest got sent to school with half of her hair still encased in white toilet paper mache.  (At least we know what to do for the next crazy hair day!)
     I continue to work on the little one, who is not yet in school.  I get the idea to flat iron it. Thankfully this worked beautifully. Once her hair is straightened, the little white flakes brush our fairly easily.  She was very pleased with her new do.
     Meanwhile, at school, the second grade teachers are quite concerned with this new hairdo.  They discuss it with her, and she refuses to tell them what it actually is, out of embarrassment. She doesn't know that what they are thinking is actually far worse.  The child gets sent to the school nurse for more questioning. I can only imagine what the nurse thinks. She does some more work on the rats nest of hair and toilet paper, and does a fairly thorough job.  
    When the bus arrives, I am please to see I don't have too much left to do on her head. This is a good thing, because it is time for dance recital dress rehearsal.  Of course these things always happen on days when they are going to be getting pictures of them taken.
     So the moral of the story is do not play toilet paper bride in the tub.  And don't use conditioning, non-sulfate shampoo to try to wash any foreign objects out of curly hair.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tweenage Sexual Education

My eldest daughter just turned 8. We have had the "where do babies" come from talk.  The daddy puts a seed in the mommies belly yadayadayada.  Lately though she is asking more and more difficult questions, like how do some people have babies before they are married, while others do not. I do my best to be honest with her while still keeping the conversation age appropriate. I hope to do right by her, and prepare her well for the big scary world out there.

I think back to my own "talk" with my parents. As I started to show signs of puberty, my parents asked me if I knew the low down.  I had read plenty of Judy Blume, and had a general idea. I answered in metaphors and my father, a scientist, told me I had no clue what I was talking about. Looking back, it may have been overly poetic, but I was at least sort of right.  I was handed a copy of "Our Bodies Ourselves" and sent on my way.

While I did have a general sense of the biology behind the female cycle, there was so much that I did not feel prepared for.  The Sex Ed both at home and at my Catholic school were all about "DO NOT". There was no help for dealing with the finer subtleties of social interactions with the opposite sex. Like so many women, I had to rely on my peers for advice, not that they were any more knowledgable than myself. I was a source of information for my younger sisters, and I hope they found themselves slightly better prepared for the world than I was.

One thing about my coming of age in the midst of an AIDS epidemic, there was a lot of information about condoms all over the place.  "No glove, no love" commercials abounded, and there were many PSAs like this one with Johnny Depp.  When I was in 5th grade, the word condemn was a vocabulary word one week. Each week our teacher would have us pronounce the word and venture a guess at a definition.  When we got to condemn, the class fell silent.  We were all thinking the exact same thing.  The teacher was stunned by our silence.  She prodded for a few minutes. Surely someone must know this word.  Finally, knowing I was a voracious reader and may have an idea, she called on me.  I meekly said "condom". Thankfully she burst out laughing so I did not have to proffer a definition for the word.  Nearly in tears, she said, "No, they wouldn't put that on a 5th grade vocab list." Honestly though, I think we all could have benefitted from an explanation of what one was, just as we should have been instructed as to the correct spelling of the word condom.

I remember being asked by some older girls if I was a "virgin" when I was about 12.  I had no concept of what the term actually meant beyond reference to the Virgin Mother and perhaps the Madonna song.  Of course I was one, but I didn't really know what the question meant. I had not even kissed a boy at that point, but given the paradox that Mary can be a virgin and somehow end up pregnant, what sense is the word supposed to make to a kid?  

Fast forward 2 or so years to high school.  After years in a nice little Catholic School environment, I was thrust into a large, inner-city public high school.  The first week of school, an upper classman pinned me against a locker and said to me perhaps the dirtiest thing I have ever heard, even to this day. I had no idea what to do or what to say. This for sure would now be labeled sexual harassment, but back then, I'm not so sure that even if I had said something to someone that anything would have been done. Several male teachers and even the Vice Principal at the time were known for placing advances on young pretty girls.

I eventually found my way, though it took some trial end error, and a failed first marriage to figure it all out.  I'm hoping my daughters have an easier time of it.  I do hope to arm them with more knowledge than I had, and maybe even some vocabulary words. Otherwise they may turn to their friends, or worse, to the interwebs for answers.  God only knows what will come up if they search for certain keywords.