The Quote -

"Nope, I don't really have anything new to say. but then, I always have something amazing to tell about things that you already know!!"


Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Puberty Talk-

The following contains material of mature discussion between my sister and myself and reader discretion is strongly advised. The author does not intend to hurt anyone’s ethics nor their cultural perceptions. The issues raised are but a fragment of quite a few pertinent questions that creep around the fringes of our mind, concealed, camouflaged and forgotten but still breathing, pulsing and very much alive.

The Snap-

Sis- “I wonder why it’s that hard for parents to teach their own kids about Sex, their menstrual periods, related stuff. I think they don’t really know the kind of misinformation that’s rampant among teens especially girls.”

Myself- “Misinformation really. I honestly thought that with internet, face book, chatting and stuff, kids today are more knowledgeable than ever.”

Sis- “You THINK??”

Myself- “Wow, you sound pretty raw!! Why what happened?”

Sis- “hmhm… My friends and I were discussing about our first periods, the way our parents handled us, the problems that we faced, our first education on hygiene during periods and so on …………. and I heard some pretty fucked up stories; Stories that I know to be true but just cannot digest the reality of them.”

Myself- “Okay….”

Sis- “you do know my old roommate! Right? Did you know that she actually believed that she had cancer when she had her first periods? She misinterpreted her bleeding to be associated with cancer and assumed that she was going to die. Imagine her terror as she struggled mentally for 2 months with that misunderstood fact! Thankfully, her mother caught her bleeding during the third month and that put an end to her misery.”

Myself-“Wow- that’s pretty hard to take in”

Sis- “Okay, then you are not going to believe a word of the next one. Happened to one of my class mates. She had her first periods. Her mother helped her clean up. They had the usual ceremony* marking her first menstrual cycle. Then they went on with their lives. They never really talked about what happened. And now again, imagine the state of the girl when her second period starts. She was not just flabbergasted with the unexpected bleeding but ill equipped to handle the situation when it occurred to her in school. Sordid chagrin of a memory.”

Myself-“I…..... I don’t know what to say!!”  

Sis-“Yeah, it does feels daunting! Right? To acknowledge that matured adults are pretty much fumbling in the dark when it comes to dealing with issues on teaching their own children stuff such as periods and sex in a sensible manner. It’s not like I want to generalize but I think the majority of those who rant about the preservation of culture fall under this same category.”

Myself- “hmhm… yeah, that argument can be made. And yes, honesty with regard to such issues between kids and parents are pretty low. But still I am at loss for words. How can such extremes of ignorance exist?”

Sis-“hmhm…  It’s hard to reason it out or explain. In a society such as ours where people want to preserve the idea that they are culturally enigmatic, sometimes gives rise to some pretty messed up scenarios. Some even hilarious!! You know, what happened to me!! ”

Myself- “WHAT?? ”

Sis-  “After my first period mom was explaining to me about hygiene with regard to tampon usage and its proper disposal. You know how she is – quite a stickler for keeping things neat and compartmentalized. She was explaining to me that the best way to manage the stuff to be used during periods was by keeping a separate bag for all the pads and wipes being used. Then she gave bag for me and instructed me to start using it. It was then that I saw a similar bag on the credenza and asked her about it. She shrugged nonchalantly and told me, it was her own bag for her own periods. I looked at her appalled and blurted out “You too have the same periods!!!”

* In Tamil Culture, the first Menstrual cycle of the girl is celebrated as a customary ceremony of welcoming her into adulthood. 

Author’s note-

This is not an effort to impart any knowledge, nor any solutions to  bridge the gap that exists between the parents and their child when discussions pertaining to issues of sex, menstruation, hygiene and such are concerned.(I am hardly hardly an expert.) It is just a confirmation of the issues that are at hand and are eating away at the rims of our society. I just want people to take notice. Just want them to ponder for a few seconds. Just want them to be aware. Nothing more. Nothing less. Hence the succinct and sharp tone of the post. 


pooja mahimkar said...

well i think that this is when your school comes into picture... my school actually had a proper session for all girls who were almost at the age of getting their first period, and this helped girls solve their doubts about it and also helped to be prepared for the same and not get scared away. so when i got my first period there was no explanation needed from my mother or anything, i knew what i had to do.

jaish_vats said...

Hi muthu

First of all I must laud you for having chosen this topic to write about . My mom being orthodox followed the untouchability rules during periods that is staying away from kitchen clothes and vessels . As a kid I was really baffled about what decided the three days when Amma stayed away :) . For me my mom did give me a heads up about what happens when I reached an understandable age but before I got my own . So I was kind of ready. As for sex education it's something rarely discussed openly . Most of it happens through novels by authors from the West who get into too much details ha ha

Oldfox004 said...

Good subject you have chosen but more than that i really like the relationship you share with your sister:)

We need parents, especially mothers to be forthright about periods, also schools would do much better if sex education sessions begin for students aged 12. My school had it when I was 15..rather late into the day!!

I have two questions: 1) why do you need a separate bag for pads and wipes during periods - one for mom and one for daughter?
2) Why is that 'first period' function celebrated in TN? What is the psychological impact on the girl. Please write a post on it:)

Indian Satire said...

the practice of celebrating a girl attaining puberty is highly inhuman and is to be discontinued. It is just a biological change

muthu said...

@pooja mahimkar ---

After reading your comment, I did ask my sister about whether- she was instructed at school. She was but the lessons came quite late. She agreed with Oldfox004- They took the period related educative episode when she was doing her 10th but then it was too late to have any real healthy impact.

hmhm -- so the age during which the classes are planned becomes very critical. Right??

muthu said...

@ jaish_vats ---

yeah, I think most of the mothers of our generation are orthodox when it comes to dealing with periods. (not that there is anything wrong with it. Its simply reflects the way they were brought up and the culture of their times..)

hmhm... and sex education has to be given to kids by someone they trust rather than learning from foreign authors-- I still remember my first thought when I realized what intercourse is- I simply felt repelled for a second there. May be even gross for a moment there...

A honest person's opinion would have made a considerable difference at that point. And I think that, that's what is required from a parent to her young ones facing such issues.

muthu said...

@ Oldfox004 --

Thank you. :) and yes, I completely concur with you with regard to the timing of the sex education in schools.

1) Its just that my mother would like my sister to be independent and proactive in dealing with her hygiene- (if they did not have separate bags then my sister would start to depend on my mother for maintaining a fresh availability of pads and stuff.) Also, it gave my sister a sense of responsibility. I think that my mother was pretty right in doing so.

2) Its not actually a celebration of the first period but its more like a celebration of the girl herself entering into womanhood. I asked my sister about her opinion on it- she simply told me- its a good idea and was quite a memorable experience for her.

DO read this particular article on the same for more clear enunciation.

muthu said...

@ Indian Satire ---

Honestly, I am not a stickler for customary celebrations but I think that whether the ceremony is pertinent and enjoyable to the teens of today is left to the opinions of the same young girls. I can see the validity of your argument but then, there are always I think 2 sides to a argument.

And it is the individuals opinion I think that matters most.

nan said...

Ha ha my situation was the same as your sis's.... But at least my mom had given a hint about this earlier so I was not in a state of shock.

Funny thing though .. it is actually pretty cool being the last one in your class to undergo this. The other girls know what to do and that helped me quite a bit .. ;)

And P.S. I had a ceremony too.. despite my many protests .. (Needless to say i was embarrassed to an unimaginable extent )

Kleopatra said...

Wow, you have a great blog and so many interesting topics.
I remember it was quite a shock for me when I first had my period because I was rather young and no one had told me about it.
We also had a session about it at school but it was way too late, at least for me.
I also loved this sentence in your header: Thank God, men don't have periods. You don't really want to hear us bragging with gusto about the size of our tampons!

muthu said...

@ nan ---

yeah, knowledgeable friends can be quite a help with such situations.

hmhm... Wont girls usually be pleased with all the attention that they get in the ceremony!! :P

muthu said...

@ Kleopatra ---

Thanks a lot for your warm compliments and Welcome to my blog. :)

Yeah, the same thing happened to my sister. The sessions in school came too late to be of any considerable use.

And yeah, gender differences can make for some interesting humor. esp Tim Allen particularly does pretty good satirical humor with gender. Do try him. :)

Bikramjit said...

well I do wish that schools in our nation do actually talk about it .. in open .. I mean when i was in school we use to think what the heck is going on with some of the girls ..

and its not harm to talk about it .. you had a talk with your sis that is commendable I am not sure how many guys would have actually talked to their sis like that .. so kudos to you sir..


TTT said...

thats a good topic to choose.... yeah now days lots of information is available on the internet but then it might sometimes become difficult for the kids to extract the correct info.
An elder sis is more helpful than parents sometimes and i was lucky to have one :D

muthu said...

Bikramjit ---

hmhm... yeah, a proper and a honest exposure in school does help. It belittles the prejudices that tend to crop up during that age.

And honestly, I don't really start these discussions with my sister, I am always honest with her and she looks up to me when she is trouble- hence the discussions and stuff take a natural progression from there.

muthu said...

@ TTT ---

hmhm... well- It was my sister who both brought up the topic and hared the stories not only with me but also okay-ed my blogging about it.

So, Cheers to her. Yeah, internet is full of info but- it cannot teach a kid the aesthetics and the cultural significance of sex.

Yeah, I know that sounds like some enigmatic crap but tell me this- when you first learnt about everything- did you accept them quickly or have doubts about them as such. That's where it applies.

And yeah, cheers to your sister. :)

Vinay Prajapati said...


Suggest you to Make your blog index

Damyanti said...

Kudos to you for bringing this topic out in the open.

In India, lack of open discussions on these topics lead to a lot of misery -- for example, there's a section of our society where the women do not have access to good protection (they use sand, ash, share the same fabric between women), and have no hope of getting it any time soon, cos no one wants to talk about it.

I support an organization called, which is now working to fill the gap in knowledge and availability, especially in rural areas.

muthu said...

@ Vinay Prajapati ---

Will sure look into it. :)

muthu said...

@ Damyanti ---

Thank you. The kudos probably goes to my sister for telling the tale.

Well, honestly, said- I think the issue is not limited to India. From reading @Kleopatra 's comment - timely education is absent and there is a general apathy towards the issue everywhere.

Yes, the rural population of India do deserve a special mention -- Hope things will look up in the future with more people coming forthright and discussing such issues.

Welcome to my blog and Happy reading. :)

Rahul Aggarwal said...

kudos to you and your sister for bringing this conversation on the blog ..!

yes these things should be told by parents as a way of sharing knowledge and right information ..!

muthu said...

@ Rahul Aggarwal ---

Thank-you, the kudos goes to my sister probably :)

And yes, in a media culture where information is being sprayed instead of being relayed, the children should identify parents as a honest and credible source of information and certainty.

K@nn(())raan*خلي ولي said...

wonderful writing!
keep blogging my dear muthu.

muthu said...

@ K@nn(())raan*خلي ولي ---

Thank you for those warm and encouraging words. Welcome to my blog.

I love writing.. And I hope that you will enjoy reading the same. :)

Kappu said...

Two things usually happen

1. They assume their children to be knowledgeble (...??)

2. They never had their parents pitch in at these situations, so they figure their children can fend for theirselves!

As of now I have seen many parents give the good touch bad touch / menstruation lessons but sex still remains a undiscussed topic.

Nice post. Pretty wakening.

Do stop by my blog! I'd love your comments & visits!!

Megha said...


"Awareness" is very important among kids and teenagers! Just like your sister, I have had my share of such stories! .. Trust me they are unbelievable!
Well, I wish to give you a pat on the back for writing this post! ..

muthu said...

@ Kappu --

Yeah, you are right. I think people would rather avoid confronting uncomfortable things rather than facing up to them..

muthu said...

@ Megha --

Thanks a lot. Symbolic pat received and the credit transferred to her greatness... :P my Sister.. :D

medha kapoor said...

Ah, this reminds me of the awkward, hurried conversation I had with my mother. Even though she is a Gynaec, her explanation was short and un-enlightening.
Thankfully our school had decent sex-awareness classes.

muthu said...

@ medha kapoor --

hmhm.... yeah, I think that a generation of parents before us have not been comfortable with handling such questions. Lets make sure we would be better than our own counterparts.

Thanks for your comments.. Cheers and happy reading.

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