Me: Welcome home, buddy! How was your day?
Hank: Good. My math class got canceled, but they wouldn’t let any of us leave school unless our parents were there to pick us up so my friends and I had a whole 50 minutes to sit with Maria because she got her first period.
Me: Wow. Big day. Wait, how old is she?
Me: Yowza, that is young. (nodding, knowingly, in solidarity)
Hank: Yah, it happened yesterday in the balnéario (locker room).
Me: Well at least it was in a semi-private place. Often times a girl can get her period in a very public place and is humiliated for it.
Hank: Oh, she was still humiliated, but it was an accident. She asked one of her friends to go and get a teacher and her friend opened the door and instead of leaving she yelled, so loud, for the whole gymnasium to hear that they needed the teacher because Maria got her period.
Me: Good lord, I hope she apologized.
Hank: She did.
Me: Everyone makes a mistake like that at some point. Even you will embarrass a friend someday, but the key is to always apologize sincerely and never get defensive, even if they’re angry. Just let them be angry.
Hank: Okay, but I was really shocked at how nice the boys were about it. They all were like, I feel bad for her and that sucks. No one made jokes. I was proud of them.
Me: As it should be.
Hank: I want to buy Maria a present or something. I just want her to feel good about it. She is just so sad.
Me: You have to let her process. Change is hard especially when your body changes and evolves. You will also have sad days about your body as it changes. For me, when I got my first period at 12, it felt like my childhood was over, because there is so much responsibility put on a girl when she gets her period regarding your hygiene and being prepared each month on top of all the uncomfortable conversations about sex and pregnancy.
Hank: I didn’t even think about that. That is stressful. I asked her and she isn’t in pain. She said it wasn’t painful, but that she just hates it and feels icky. I told her having your period is natural, but that I knew it was annoying and I was always there for her if she needed anything and my other friends agreed. She was so sad.
Me: Supporting her the way that you and your friends are is a gift.
Hank: When my sister gets her first period I am going to buy her a present and take her to lunch with a very chocolaty dessert.
Me: (smiling) Hank, you’re a feminist.
Hank: What’s a feminist again?
Me: A feminist is anyone who believes that there is no difference between men and women and that they are 100% equal and should be treated as such in all areas of life and finds nothing off putting or disgusting about being a woman including periods.
Hank: Of course I’m a feminist. Why isn’t everyone a feminist?
Me: Why, indeed.