Puberty. Another parenting triumph.


My baby is becoming less of a baby, by the day.

When she goes back to school after the summer hols, it will be her last year of primary school.

I remember being 10. My friend Cheryl suddenly grew boobs and all the girls seemed convinced they could grow them too, if ONLY they did the right exercises. There was a terrible rumour about Andrew and Debbie on the sports field with a Mars Bar that I didn’t entirely understand, but I knew it was BAD. And there was the horror of a group viewing of the “Living and Growing” TV series in the school media room.

I wanted to approach the whole “growing up” issue a bit more positively with Flea. Honestly, it’s terrifying knowing your child’s lifelong sexual hang-ups could be caused by you saying or doing the wrong thing at this point. Talk about pressure! Lucky for me, then, that I can be relied upon to usually get this stuff 100% right.

Or not.

It started well.

We read “Mummy Laid an Egg” together years ago. Being a female household means Flea’s picked up the basics of sex, periods and contraception along the way, and we’re lucky to have the sort of relationship where she can ask me questions if she’s confused, or curious. Naturally, I’ve felt quietly smug at how well-adjusted it all feels.

Still, I know that might not be the case in another year or so.

With that in mind, I decided it would be an good idea to buy Flea a book – something factual, reassuring and positive – that would help her feel good about the changes that might happen to her body over the next year or two, or to check on things she hears at school, without needing to always ask me, or another family member.

At the local bookstore I found what looked like the perfect book – “What’s Happening to Me?” Flicking through the pages, it all felt very positive and reassuring, and pitched at about the right level for 10 year olds. All the basics – changing shape, spots, periods, breasts, friendships – were covered. It felt like a good book for Flea to have at hand just in case she wanted some sensible advice or information. I bought a novel for Flea about spies (see? Mum of the Year), headed home, feeling pretty good about myself.

That night, I handed Flea a bag containing both books. “I just want you to have this so you can read it if you think it might be useful,” I said, being SUPER low key.

Job done, parenting merit award earned. Nice pat on back in order.

Or so I thought.

That night, Flea and I were chatting while she got changed for bed.

“Thanks for the spy book, Mum, it’s really good,” said Flea.

“What about the other book?” I asked, adding, “Of course we don’t have to talk about it if you’d rather not.” 

“No, it’s fine to talk about it,” said Flea (and I inwardly congratulated myself on having this stuff down PAT. See how well adjusted she is?)

“OK. Was it interesting?”

“Oh yes. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know,” said Flea, nodding.

“Really?”  Obviously, my parenting technique is already paying dividends.

“Well, there’s quite a lot about boys that I didn’t know…. and I didn’t know that girls have wet dreams, too.” 

“Super…” Hang on… what??

I searched the dusty corners of my memory but I couldn’t recall ever being told that girls have wet dreams. Maybe she meant sexy dreams? Only that seems way more explicit than the book seemed when I read through it. What have I bought? Oh God. 

“Girls? Do they? Are you sure?” I asked Flea.

“Oh yes, hang on, it was in here somewhere,” said my daughter, confidently flicking through the book.

With a flourish, Flea held open the book at a double page spread of illustrations of all the ways a penis can look while still being completely normal. And some cheery text underneath all about wet dreams and unexpected erections.

Yes, friends.

I bought my daughter the WRONG VERSION of the book, and she’s now the most well-informed 9 year old girl on the planet when it comes to adolescent male development.

And if Flea spends the next 5 years waiting desperately for her voice to break, her beard to grow in, and her sheets to get wet in the morning, I have only myself to blame.



47 thoughts on “Puberty. Another parenting triumph.”

  1. You numpty LOL. Still, at least she’ll be well informed on both sides of gender development thereby making her a great friend to both boys and girls. See what I did there? Spin, spin, spin…….

  2. Oh I am so sorry but this has had me in fits at my desk, so much so that my (male, mid-20s to mid-30s) colleagues have all gathered round for a read too.

    POOR Flea. If it wasn’t bad enough that you cruelly named a child Flea [ 😉 ] you’ve now confused her for life about what to expect from her own body.

  3. Haha this is hilarious. I love her reaction. So when are you going to teach her how to shave her beard?
    Jokes aside I would have died. However at least she can tell all the boys what will happen to them over the next few years.

  4. Despite this being hilarious, I think you could actually be onto something here. I think there’s a lot to be said for the sexes understanding what one another goes through – especially during puberty. Does that happen in schools now? I remember being so well informed on the girl ‘stuff’ thanks to a Mum similarly open and helpful as you but when it came to the boys most of that was (incorrectly!) learned in the playground or at the back of the classroom. I still don’t know for sure if a boy really does wet the bed if you put his hand in a bucket of cold water when he’s asleep… I’ll have a fair bit of additional swotting up to do if our first baby is a boy!

  5. Haha! So funny! 🙂 On a serious note I’m currently putting a basket together for my eldest daughter with books, DVD s and pads etc, just so we’re ready. I also think it’s good to be well informed about what happens to the other sex too. Though I will make sure she has the female version as well… 😉

  6. When I read your blogs, it prepares me for what I most probably will be doing about a year later – totally know that I could have done this, and probably will do something very very similar. My daughter is year 5 next year, so you always warn me about my impending disasters one year ahead. That is why you are awesome, at least I *may* not do this. I say may coz well, there really still is every chance…

  7. Hahahahahaha. Properly. Actually. Brilliant.

    I’ve been s super cool, laid back, talk honestly and openly about everything, parent too.

    I have raised the most prudish bunch of teenage girls in existence. Honestly. They have all concluded sex is disgusting based purely, so far as I can tell, on me saying it’s nice, enjoyable, fun and their parents still do it. And that I won’t shout if they do it.


        1. Ha! I often tell myself humiliation is worth it if a) it’s useful to others as advice of what not to do, and b) it makes a good blog post 😀

  8. Thank you, I needed this laugh today. Having said that, I actually think it’s a genius idea and I’m sure that’s what you intended from the start *coughs*. My girl has read the girl book but would be good for her to know about boys too!

  9. Sally, you always make me laugh so much! How do you come up with all that stuff? Love the low-key present with both books in a bag. It really is great that the two of you talk so freely about all that stuff. I haven’t even started thinking about all that yet, but I still have time, right? My oldest is only 7 at the end of the month.

  10. Excellent, I’m chuckling away this morning at the thought. I haven’t even thought about approaching the subject yet, mind you with junior school in September it’s shooting up the agenda!

  11. Awesome! To be fair, when you title two such different books identically, and the only choice is blue or pink, I know which one my girl would choose. Pink is soooooo six!

  12. My excuse would be…I didn’t have my glasses…I use that a lot now, kind of glad the eyes are starting to fail it’s a great excuse.

    Thanks for the laugh this morning, I nearly fell out of my chair. But the others are right, it’s a good idea to learn about the opposite sex. Now you have to go and get her the pink book 🙂

  13. Haha Brilliant. My daughter’s science lessons take the form of theory then a practical session a few days later. She recently came home and said that they had done the male reproductive system in theory class that day…(small pause while she pondered on what she’d learned, I thought)… “but I’m not sure what they’ll do for the practical mum” – I’m sure your book blunder would have provoked far less anxiety as she sat there working out whose penis she was going to have to witness at school – you’re a step ahead haha.

  14. OMG, I can’t stop chuckling to myself. This is possibly the best blog post I have ever read! Can’t wait for the conversation in the book shop should you try to exchange it for the correct one.

  15. Ha ha! Too funny….you’ll never get this pink/blue thing will you ;))
    We got the pink version when my daughter was about 8/9 a good read may I say. I shall be getting the blue one for the son very soon methinks! x

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