Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Learning Laundry 101

One thing that I know Wendy has always appreciated about me, is my independent nature.  We do not have gender stereotypes in our house such as who will vacuum, who will mow the lawn, who will split firewood,  who will clean the bathrooms.  I do many of the chores, for myself, or for all, without complaining.

One evening while at karate class, Madison is quite stressed about something, franticly scratching her leg and upset.  I asked her what was wrong, and she explained to me in a panic.  Long story short, at nine years of age, my oldest daughter has begun to physically change.

Tarzan is a story about a human being raised by apes in the wild.  And there are countless stories of people being raised by wolves.  The theory?  That man would pick up on the animal characteristics hence acting or blending in with that group now involved with.  So it should come as no shock that by being raised in a house with all females, each dealing with the hormonal periods at different times of the month, as well as stages, I should be in perfect condition or training for “the change” with my daughters.

I know that there will be a lot more that I have to deal with now that this time has come.  Eventually, boys will become an issue.  Decisions will get harder to make for my daughters and for Wendy and I.  The time is changing from “talking the talk” to “walking the walk”.

A friend of ours, who happens to be a parent at the karate school that our children go to, mentioned a book published by the company “Americanl Girl” to help young girls as they grow and develop.  The book is called “The Care And Keeping Of Me” and is meant to be a self-help book for girls to read at their own pace, and discuss with their parents.  I am hoping it will also be able to take the sting out of some issues that would be uncomfortable to discuss between father and daughter.

So I am up in Manhattan visiting some doctors, and as I usually do in between appointments having time to kill, stop in at the Barnes and Noble for books for the girls.  And of course, I look for the American Girl Book Of Girls Stuff.  There is one copy which I purchase along with the other books.  I still have some time to fill and head up a couple of blocks to Johnny Rockets to grab a bite.  While I am waiting for my food to come, I decide to scope out the AG book to glance at the subject content and how things are handled.

Okay, the first part is okay as the book talks about changes and emotions and stuff.  Then the book gets into the actual physiological stuff, things I am no way prepared to even want to think about my little girl growing up.  As I flip through the pages quicker as if to get through the book quicker or at least skp certain sections that I am hoping Wendy will take care of, I hit the very graphic pages.  Just then I realize the waitress is standing over me waiting for me to my out of the way to place my food on the table.

“It’s not what it looks like.  I have a daughter who is entering puberty…”  Holy CRAP!  Major embarrassment, and then throw the cliche out with my pride.  So, I non-chalantly close the book, and slowly slide it back into the bag, never to be seen in public in my hands ever again.

Like I said, I was raised in a house with all women, still living with that concept, just different women, and clearly at different stages.  This time the stakes are going to be much higher.  Unlike my grandmother and aunt who had already lived through their lives, and my mother in mid-life and sister, well, do not even want to think about it, Wendy is of no concern with me as far as women issues go, but now Wendy and I have two little girls to prepare to be women.

I now make Wendy do the majority of things for the girls that require any modesty, like the girls getting showered or anything of that nature.  And it will only be natural that Wendy will be the one taking the girls shopping for um… their personal wear.  Shit!  I cannot even say the word anymore.  After being a neandrothal for so many years, now I was going to be considerate and destroy anyone who would disrespect my daughters.

As I mentioned earlier, I am fairly domesticated, and never complain about doing any chores.  But I have put Wendy on notice, I will no longer be doing their laundry.  I am going to stop somewhere in the near future, because I do not even want to be told, when Madison starts wearing her extra articles of clothing.  The last thing I want is to start pulling laundry out of the dryer and start tugging at some strappy thing, and then drop into some emotional breakdown.

I received a very cruel reminder a few weeks ago.  As we cleaned up our back patio for the summer (putting away towels, toys and such), Wendy had thrown swim suits and towels into the washer one last time, and it happened.  Evidently one of our sitters was using our pool (which was not unsual) but because she had been at the house daily, she had left her swim suit at our house.  And I realized this as I took things from the washer to the dryer.  I have known this girl for many years, and consider her like a daughter to me.  Which only seemed to bring the reality home.  It is time to teach Madison to do her own laundry.

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