2.10.2014

Period Party


It all started with a puberty video.  Actually, the announcement of the puberty video.  In the school district we live in the kids in 4th grade watch a clip with their own gender that details some of the changes their bodies go through during puberty.  I went to a screening of the movie and found it to be very well done, quite benign, clear and concise.

 But as I sat in the back of the elementary school library I had this feeling that I wanted more than a kind teacher guiding my girls in such a major discussion.  My memory stirred and I remembered a book I had read last summer that described a sort of ‘period party’ for girls and moms.  Right there in the paperback fiction section I decided to take the leap.  I decided to have a Period Party.

I sent out an email detailing my goals and the itinerary to hand-picked girls and their moms from our church.

Yeah, it was weird.  Thank heaven for grace.

Here were my goals:

  • Education - let’s get the facts out there and answer questions
  • Community - by broaching this topic publicly I wanted to create an open environment with the girls and with the girls moms.  If I’m not present (or even in favor that day) but another one of these moms is, I pray my girls will go to them with questions or needs.  
  • Set the tone - I know periods aren’t fun to talk about, but I was hoping that by introducing it with lots of fun and openness it could be seen something amazing that God put in place in our bodies.  Not an annoying monthly problem.  


And here was the itinerary:

5:30 - arrive and eat pizza/salad
6 - start baby videos
Video One  - a fun youtube clip of babies laughing
Video Two  - a youtube clip of a baby forming in the womb,(start from 2min 30 sec in to 5 min)
6:15 - handout and go over a list of facts - answer questions
6:30 - show all the gear, let girls make their own emergency packs
6:45 - movie and popcorn

Things went differently than I had planned.

My girls delivered a bit of a rocky start as they were less than pleased at my initiative.  In the weeks leading up the party I had explained to them that we were having a gathering of girls to talk about some of the changes that happen to girls bodies during puberty.  About 30 minutes before the party I walked through the schedule and gave them the details.  We had talked about periods before, but to talk about such things publicly?  They were appalled.  One of them refused to look at or talk to me, the other gave me a lot of feisty verbal feedback.

Que the doorbell.

My girls were soon chatting and playing and forgot about how crazy their mom was.  Over pizza, the moms and I brainstormed and walked through the evening together, divvying up the parts so one mom wasn’t doing all the talking.

I was in charge of starting things up.  I set up the funny video, but we decided to skip the video of the baby forming in the womb.  One mom was concerned it would totally freak out her daughter.  Truthfully, the animation is a bit freaky.

Now, I’ve spoken publicly before, but as I stood there in front of 8 pre-pubescent girls my tongue tied up into knots.  My words fell out on top of each other, I forgot what I wanted to say, in general:  I panicked.  This crowd was not my comfort zone.  What I wanted to say was this “God created women's bodies with a uterus that is designed to carry a baby.  Not all women can carry babies, but all women have special linings in their wombs that are perfect for a baby to grow in.  Once a month, if there is not a baby in the womb, the lining is released - it’s called a Period.”

What I really said was “wha, wha, wha, wha, wha ....”  (imagine Charlie Brown’s teacher).

Bless my friend’s hearts.  They saved me.  In particular my friends Betsy and Tracie.  Betsy has the wonderful experience as an elementary school teacher.  She quickly scooped in and re-stated what I was trying to get at.  And she did it with grace and so sweetly.

Then Betsy handed out a fact sheet to all the girls.  Together we went through the facts and let the girls ask questions as we came to them.  At first the room was pretty quiet, but soon enough they opened up.  Their questions were fantastic!

After the fact sheet we moved to the kitchen were I had a tray full of period paraphernalia.  Tracie was in charge of this section of the night.  My sweet friend Tracie who helps run a summer camp and can talk to kids about anything.  She pulled out different kinds of pads, tampons, underwear, and then cups of water, a baster, a spray gun to show how the water gets absorbed.  The first demonstration was a pad and how to put it on underwear.  We walked through disposal as well.

Then - tampons.

I was nervous about this part.  I mean, tampons?  These girls still play with their American Girl dolls.  In anticipation of the party I talked with different moms of teen girls about introducing this and got their pros and cons.  As a group we moms decided to go ahead and teach about tampons but stressed that using them was a personal decision that girls make with their moms.  And then with a deep breath we dove in.

Tracie tried to talk the girls through how a tampon is used but they were looking a bit confused.  Finally, Betsy reached across the table and put her hand in the shape of a circle and let Tracie push a tampon through.  Then they got it.

I was blushing like mad.  The girls were giggling.

And then we all started our own conversations with our daughters or the girl closest to us.  (One on one I did fine, thank goodness).  It was SO very dear to my heart to watch my little girls ask Betsy, Tracie, and other moms questions.  I loved talking to other girls and encouraging them with smiles and reassurances.

Then we let the girls play.  They took the water and squirt guns and laughed and chatted.   It was sweet and endearing.  And I was relieved.  Each mom had prepared  an emergency kit in a little bag for the girls to take with them in their backpacks.  Some moms went through the packs right then with their daughters, some waited to talk through the packs when they got home.

We didn’t end up having time for a movie.  The conversations went the entire two hours. When leaving the house one girl thanked me and said “I feel like I can handle this, now.”

The best part was after everyone left and my girls and I finished picking up.  They snuggled up with me and thanked me, asking for more times to talk about “this kind of stuff.”

If you have girls in the third or fourth grade I highly recommend the Period Party however you are comfortable.  I will attach the fact sheet we used and the invite I emailed to the other mom’s for your use.  We leaned heavily on the American Girl Body Book.  Its chapters on menstruation are very well done.

Many blessings to you as you tread into new territories as moms.  May God bless them as they grow into women who love and serve Him.

INVITE:  

Dear friends,

I am writing to invite you and your daughter to a Period Party.  

I know.  It’s weird.  

I read about it in a book (can’t remember which one) and thought it was a fun idea.  The 196 school district is going to show the kids a puberty video this spring (4th grade and 5th grade) and so I feel like the time is now to get a jump on things.  

Here’s the general idea (see the rest of the email for the specifics):  

A group of girls roughly the same age get together for a fun evening to be introduced (some for the first time, some already have an idea) to menstruation as a way God designed women’s bodies. We will show a video of a baby forming in the womb and talk about the way the lining being released every month is a preparation.  We will give facts and answer questions, then there will be a basket of period paraphernalia for the girls to play with.  Pads, tampons, underwear to put in in, water to see the absorption ...  The girls can each make a Period Pack for emergencies to keep in their backpacks (probably for middle school).  Then we will totally change the subject and turn on a Christmas movie.  :)

The purpose is for our girls to start a community for each other.  They will all have the same info at the same time, hopefully developing a comfort level with each other so that they can talk openly and feel freedom during a somewhat awkward stage.  I am also praying that my girls will be comfortable with you as moms - that they will ask you questions if I’m not around (or because they think you’re cooler).  :)  We will NOT be talking about sex, birth and delivery, boys, dating, etc.  If someone wants to plan a Purity Party that sounds great to me.  But this night we will stick to menstruation and direct them to their parents for other issues.  

WHEN - 
_____________________

WHERE - 
Smith’s House
_____________________

WHAT TO BRING:
A small bag (I’m using a cosmetic one)
Pads
Underwear liner
Tampons, if you wish
Some tylenol or other pain relief, in case she has some cramps
A change of underwear
A small plastic bag for soiled underwear

Here’s the agenda:

5:30 - arrive and eat pizza
6 - start baby videos
Video One (just for fun)
Video Two (start at 2 min 30 sec, cut off at 5 minutes)
6:15 - handout and go over a list of facts - answer questions
6:30 - show all the gear, let girls make their own emergency packs
(this part I was thinking we would leave them alone for, heading to the kitchen or something.  I am open to suggestions)
6:45 - movie and popcorn
(I’m thinking the movie ELF but really we can watch whatever)

PLEASE email me with comments, suggestions, or questions.  I’m a newbie and would love to hear your thoughts.  

RSVP by _______.  

Love doing this with all of you,
Rachel

FACT SHEET

•  At first , the idea of getting menstrual periods may seem well sort of gross. But periods are a sign that your body is healthy and working properly. It’s preparing to do the grown-up work of having a baby someday. Every month your body practices for this by building a “nest,” a place for a baby to grow inside your uterus. The nest is a lining of blood and other fluid that builds up on the uterus walls. Because there is no baby, the lining is shed and you have a period.
•  While it may seem like a lot of blood is lost, the average cycle only produces between 10-85ml, which is around three tablespoons.
•  Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the first day of bleeding. Each menstrual period will last anywhere from 2 to 8 days.
•  The average amount of time between menstrual cycles is 28 days, but may be longer or shorter depending on the individual (anywhere from 21-35 days is considered normal).
•  On average a girl will start menstruation at age 13 (called menarche) and will continue until she's around 51 (called menopause).  However, don’t worry if you don’t get your period when all your friends do. God has created each of us differently and His plan for your body is the best one.
•  The color of blood loss can vary from dark brown to bright red, depending on how old the blood is and how oxygen has affected it.
•  In years gone by, girls were told they could not swim, have a bath or wash their hair while they had their period. This is most certainly not true. It's important to have good hygiene at all times, especially when you have your period. And yes, you can swim, you will just need to use a tampon.
•  While many woman suffer from period pain, not all will. If your period is heavier you are more likely to have monthly pain.
•  Some nicknames for your period include: Aunty Flo, the monthly, on the rags, 'the time of the month', crimson tide, under repairs, the curse and a whole host of weird and silly things.
•  Some women who live together or spend a great deal of time together discover their cycles become in sync.
•  While a menstrual cycle may have hereditary factors, a daughter's cycle can be quite different to her mother's.
•  You can’t tell exactly when you’ll get your first period, but your body may give you clues that it’s on its way. Many girls start to menstruate about one to two years after their breasts have started developing.
•  Once you begin to menstruate regularly, you may notice some patterns in how you feel right before your period. Sometimes these physical and emotional changes are referred to as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS for short. It’s not a disease or an illness, just a natural part of your menstrual cycle.
•  PMS is caused by hormones-chemicals that are released in your body at this time. Up to two weeks before your period, your breasts may feel swollen or more tender than usual. You may also notice that your body feels heavier, even puffy and that your skin is more prone to breakouts. All of these symptoms will go away after your period begins. You may also feel cramps in your lower abdomen or back before and during your period. The cramps are because the muscles of the uterus are hard at work.
•  Your periods can also affect your moods. Some girls feel irritated, tired, grouchy and more emotional in the days leading up to your period. If you find that your feelings are more intense during this time, know that this is perfectly normal. But when you are feeling extra edgy, try not to unleash your frustration on family and friends. Instead, try talking to them about how you feel.
•  The best remedies for premenstrual aches and pains are fairly simple. A warm bath or a hot-water bottle laid over your tummy can help soothe cramps. If headaches, backaches or cramps make you feel crummy, there is medicine at the drugstore that you can take. Be sure to talk to your mom to see what she recommends first.  To help lift your spirits and lighten your mood it helps to stay active. Regular exercise has been proven to help people relieve stress and lighten moods.



No comments: