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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Once, Twice, One Time a Lady

Girl (age 12-ish): "I don't feel well."
Me: "Aw. What's wrong?"
Her: *shrug*
Me: "Like, you're going to throw up?"
Her: "No."
Me: "Like, you're getting a cold?"
Her: "No."
Me: "Oh. Then what is it?"
She grabs my notebook.
Her: "Can I write on this?"
Me: "Sure."
She grabs my pen too and writes the following:

Me: "Ah ha."
I had a feeling it was that, but I deliberately didn't bring it up in the interest of avoiding a potentially AWKWARD SITUATION. Luckily, awkward situations always seem to find their way to ME.
Her: "Yeah."
Me: "Well...is this...the first time that's happened?"
(I was all ready to get out a copy of Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, which, incidentally, was where I first learned the word menstruation, with amusing results.)
Her: "No. It's almost my ONE YEAR anniversary of it."
Me: "Oh. Wow!"
Her: "Yeah, it happened on Halloween."
Me: "Well, that's kind of a SCARY thing to have happen."
Did I mention I made bad jokes when I'm in awkward situations? Luckily, she's a smart kid with a good sense of humor and I won't have scarred her for life, making her think that getting your period is a horrible, frightening thing (even though that point might indeed be arguable. Sorry, feminism.)
She looks at me sideways. "Not really."
I love when kids call me on my bullshit, I do.
Me: "I know, I was just kidding."
Her: "But it does HURT."
We discuss heating pads and Advil (which she is not allowed to take, and I should
probably not be administering medical advice anyway). Then she sees her friends across the
room, says "Okay, bye!" to me and runs off.
In situations like these at the library, I'm never really sure what my role is. I know it depends on the kid and the context, but I never want to say the wrong thing. Am I a parental figure? A cool, sage older sister? (Or, more age-appropriately, a cool, sage aunt?) Should I just shut down the conversation? Do I ask questions? Should I offer advice? Where is the line, and have I crossed it?
Ahhh, womanhood. It ain't easy for anyone, I don't care what they say.


  1. I thought you handled it with grace and a sense of humor. Bravo!


  2. Working in a middle school, I have tried to have a somewhat more... academic demeanor to ward off this kind of conversation, because it would take up my entire day. It's bad enough when middle schoolers attempt to hug me. You did a great job!