A Coming of Age Story: The Day I Became a "Woman."

Getting Personal (aka a little TMI) | Point and Laugh No Comments
Dorothy Hamill

Dorothy Hamill

Once upon a time this awkward 32 year-old female was an awkward 12 year-old in 6th grade.
I had braces and short hair. My mom made me get my hair cut like Dorothy Hamill for at least 2 years because it was so cute…..or it was in 1976, but in 1993 it just added to the awesomeness of my braces and pre-teen acne.

5th grade. Closest I could find. Lookin' good!

5th grade. Closest I could find. Lookin’ good!

Technically this is my 5th grade picture because I can locate neither my 6th grade school picture, nor my yearbook. The only differences you would note are a gray background and a super cool white t-shirt with big purple circles and black lines of paint. My Grama Hayden and I spent a while picking out that shirt and its matching purple stretch-stirrup pants. Stirrup pants play a role in this story. Fashion is stupid. For example, isn’t it so totally weird how that outdated fashionable haircut didn’t make me super cute? I’m wearing a real turtleneck in my fake library…In 6th grade one should be wearing deodorant. This girl didn’t get that memo. I think I was the stinky girl for a bit. This is confirmed in my memory because Andy Boone (on whom I had an incredible crush) would plug his nose and wave his hand in front of his face while looking at me. I don’t think it was any kind of mating ritual, or at least not any I have come across in the subsequent decades that followed my 6th grade year. Psychologically, this has manifested into me wearing copious amounts of deodorant on the daily. You can thank Andy Boone, but I won’t.

Now that we have established how awkward I was we will again attempt to continue with this actual story.

ugly in middle

At my middle school we had homeroom for 15 minutes at the beginning of each day. I noticed I had a slight stomachache this day, but that was pretty normal for me as I was a pretty anxious kid.

By the time I made it to first hour, the stomach cramps were beyond what I could ignore, so I asked my social studies teacher, Mrs. Stevenson, for a restroom pass. I was immediately nervous about how to take care of this restroom sesh quickly so as not to alert anyone to the fact that I was pooping if I was gone too long. I mean, I was sure none of the beautiful and popular girls in the 6th grade pooped, so I had to be quick about this!

Upon entering the stall I pulled down my black stirrup stretch pants and white Hanes Her Way underpants only to discover the next worse possible thing after diarrhea was actually happening to me. I had officially started my first period.

Everything went in slow motion while I sat there freaking the EFF out! I had NO clue what to do. I was NOT prepared for this. My face was hot. My heart was racing. This was THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.
After what felt like 15-20 minutes at least (but definitely not), I made my way back to class and I just knew everyone had noticed how long I was gone.

A normal girl, who doesn’t overanalyze, would ask her teacher for a pass to the health room. Not me. Mrs. Stevenson was the mother of two really cute boys with whom I swam every summer, and for sure she would tell them how I started my period in her class AND she would probably ask me about it every time she saw me in the summer, so NO WAY was I asking her for another pass.

I waited till my 2nd period (so punny) and asked my English teacher, Mrs. Prager, if I could go to the health room. Now, believe it or not, I was a frequent flyer in health rooms during my K-12 school years. I hated school so I was “sick” a lot. Ironic when you consider my profession, I know. She asked what was wrong, and I very quietly stated, “I started my period.” With a very reassuring demeanor she asked if I had what I needed. I stated that I did not and she sent me to the health room.


Again, I was a frequent flyer to the health room and the joint was already hoppin’ when I walked in, so when the nurse saw me she huffed and said rather harshly, “What is it now Lisa?”
I just looked at her thinking she would certainly know by my demeanor and lack of response that I had started my period. She looked at me harder and asked, “Well?”

I was trying so very hard to communicate by making the big-eyes and shooting my brain waves toward her so she could discern what I wanted her to know. You see, there were at least 3 other students in there, and one of them was an 8th grade boy on whom I had a mega-crush. We will call him Goldilocks since he is currently friends with some of my good friends. With Goldilocks and at least 2 bears in there, there was no way I could just use WORDS to say what was going on.I mean, what kind of nurse was she who couldn’t interpret my very clear widening of eyes and head-waggling….???
This incredibly intuitive and empathetic nurse finally said to me that if I wasn’t going to talk she couldn’t help me. As one of her “regulars” I still think she should have known that me not talking was abnormal, but she was clearly on HER period, too!

Through clenched teeth and without really moving my mouth I told her, “I started my period.”
She said she couldn’t hear me and she came close enough that I felt I could repeat it without the luscious Goldilocks overhearing.

Me: “I started my period.” (as quietly as possible)
Nurse: (She embraces me and IN THE LOUDEST VOICE POSSIBLE…and maybe even with the school-wide PA enabled) “Ohhhhhhhh! MY GOODNESS! That is wonderful! You are becoming a woman!!!”

I didn’t become a woman because I died of embarrassment right there in the New Mark Middle School nurses’ office.

Ok, obviously that is not true, but REALLY?

So, now you know why Goldilocks never married me. This nurse ruined every chance at my future with him even though now I was clearly fertile and could bear his children and just freshly into my new-found womanhood.

She sent me into the restroom (I passed so close to Goldilocks that a loose hair could have fallen on me) with “supplies.” I had NO FREAKING clue how to use any of it.

Now, school-provided feminine supplies in the 90s were not designed for modesty or comfort, no matter what the package says. I went for the maxi-pad that was at least 6 inches long and 4 inches thick. Please remember I was wearing stretch pants (with stirrups) so there was already not a lot of space happening there. Because I didn’t know how to apply this thing my memory causes me to believe I walked around looking like I had a saggy load of poo in my britches after I stuck it on my WHITE Hanes.

I left the nurses’ office ready to die from shame and I needed to find a friend. I found one and quietly told her what had happened.

There was one more class until lunch and then the worst day of my life would be half over. It couldn’t get worse so all I had to do was get through the day and get home, right?


The friend in whom I had confided had gone straight to the girl’s locker room to dress-out for PE and told all 50 (actually NOT an exaggeration) of those girls I had started my period.

I know this because as I entered the primary social area of the school, the cafeteria, several girls approached me and told me I started my period.

My immediate reaction was to deny this disgusting accusation!

Who? Me? No. Not me….except that the giant bulge in my stretch pants was giving me away.

awkward merit badges

I don’t remember a lot after that; probably because my subconscious kicked in and protected me so I can still show my face in public 20 years later.

I tell you this because if you are ever around a young girl making the big eyes and waggling her head at you, you will know to
1) Point her to a helpful drawer of products or to a non-weirdo helpful adult female and

Thank you!

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