Jon Vaughn was secretly hoping he wouldn’t have to deal with the first time his daughter got her period. Here’s how a single dad dealt with it.
Aunt Flow. Crimson Tide. Red Sea. The Rag. TOM (time of the month).
You can give it any name you want; there are plenty of them. It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. You might not want to think about it but it doesn’t make it go away. You can prepare all you want but you’ll never know when or where this event will take place. If you have a daughter, she is going to start menstruating one day; the inaugural event I’ve secretly wished for my daughters to miraculously be with their mothers during this time. Well, it didn’t happen that way.
I can see the headline now: Dad Takes Daughter to Urgent Care for Cramps. And that’s exactly what I did. She’s complained about stomach problems in the past, but typically after eating junk food, washed down by more junk food, and has decided junk food for dessert is a swell idea. She was lying flat on her back on the couch, it was early Saturday morning and she was crying. This time was different; the pain was different; her cries were different. She needed me.
From the couch to the car to urgent care, I carried her, all 82.2 pounds of her. We were able to see the doctor pretty quickly and he quickly ordered a urinalysis and x-ray after giving her some pain meds. After the test and x-ray came back, he ordered blood-work as a precaution, but determined that it appeared she was simply having really bad cramps, the beginning of a young girl about to start menstruation. Any type of pain sucks, but what really sucks is new pain; pain you’re unfamiliar with. It’s harder to manage, and it’s very difficult for me, a dad, to relate to this specific kind.
Gen looked up at me after the doctor left the room and said, “Dad,” with her hand making a circular motion above her pelvis, “is he going to check any of my business down here?” I responded, “I don’t know Kiddo, but doctors will do everything they need to make sure you’re okay. Sometimes we have to let them get all up in our business. Trust me, they’ve seen worse.” She laughed, and quickly realized laughing is too painful. Olive chimes in with her two cents, “Well my tummy hurt one time really bad but I didn’t cry,” which made us both laugh; the little turd.
After a needle poke and blood into a few vials, we were released and on our way home. The words we were about to share, both in humor and in all seriousness, were impossible to script. I felt like a mom from her candid words, things that I know some dads might cringe at, but in my heart, I was having a party inside. This was the moment I’ve been waiting for. Not the moment of getting her period, hell no, I want both of my daughters to stay little forever. It was the moment that my fear was replaced with confidence in our ability to communicate as she gets older. All those times I’ve told her, “You can tell me anything,” was happening right now, live.
As she lay down on her bed and I went in to check on her. She complained about mild cramping, but it seemed to be going away. I asked her, “Do we need to go get some tampons,” and she responded, almost with a little excitement, “Yes, and my mom told me what brand to get!” I walked into the living room and I was thinking if I should Google “World’s Smallest Tampon,” but started thinking I was going to have to show her how to do something I’ve never done before; something with zero years of experience. I’ve always said that there is a particular joy in parenting by not knowing and learning along the way but this was not a joyful moment. Then, out of nowhere, the epiphany. The father knows best thought and feeling caused me to march back to her room asking, “Why don’t we start with pads first, Kiddo? I’m not sure you want to be sticking anything up there anytime soon. I might be wrong, but you should check with your mom.” She said, “Okay,” immediately calling but got voicemail so she left a message to call back.
When we were in the car, heading to grab a bite to eat, her mom calls back. The only words I heard from Gen were, “That’s exactly what my dad said,” and suddenly the biggest fist-pump ran through my body like I had just won gold at the Olympics. I wanted to shout, “Woo hoo!” After she hung up, we decided to detour ourselves to Rite-Aid, and though I joked with her for a bit, asking her if she had any money to purchase her items, I handed her a $20 and asked her, “Do you want me to go with you,” and she said, “Nah, I got this Dad.”
There was so much more to this weekend than I could have ever imagined. The realization that my little girl is beginning her journey of transition into a woman is mind-boggling. It seems like only yesterday she was saying, while standing on a stool in front of the toilet, “I want to pee like Daddy.” Being able to experience this with my daughter was perfect, and it reassured me that though she might not tell me everything, I know that she knows she can tell me anything.
Lastly, I cannot ignore the confidence Genesis has in being female. Probably one of the most beautiful things a woman can have, in my mind, is confidence. Not the type of confidence that causes one to snap their fingers three times in a Z-shape with their hand on their hip, but the type of confidence where it’s impossible for shame or embarrassment to exist. It simply can’t. Olive got to experience the ride as well and that kid doesn’t forget anything. The best part about it all is the fact that she gave me permission to share this with you. I would have never written or shared this without it. That’s the best measure of self-confidence I’ve witnessed in her yet. Period.
Originally published on FullTimeDaddy.com