ADULT CONTEMPORARY: Before you were old, you were not yet a woman.

A dear friend, Fern, sent some BIG NEWS over the wires. Her niece, our beloved Sissy, had JUST gotten her period. (Insert new Apple iphone messages FIREWORKS here.) Sissy! A woman!

In my circle of friends, there are NOT a lot of children and even fewer from the tween/teen set. One, in fact. Sissy. Though she doesn’t live in close proximity, she has become a sort of every niece. People love to know what’s she’s doing, what’s she wearing, what is she listening too, did she write any new poetry lately? From the distance of my thirties, watching a girl grow up puts a soothing balm on my own early teen years. She’s cool, interesting, smart. Were we all cool, interesting and smart?

Fern wanted to get a gift to mark the occasion (OF COURSE.) An enamel pin? But which one? Suggestions offered:

I suggested a Uterus Pin, similar to the one a friend wears on her jacket. That friend suggested a Period Pride Pin. 20% of the proceeds on that one go to Planned Parenthood, always a plus. Etsy, a treasure trove of appropriate first period tokens, also turned up these Period Panties in pink or blue.

Another suggestion came from a friend who recounted her first period with “It was one of the most terrifying days of my life. I was 11 and my mom never warned me about it so I thought I was dying.” This Spaced Out Kool Aid Man Pin really seemed to capture that feeling. Aren’t we ALL this Spaced Out Kool Aid Man once a month?

Fern reminded us that psychoanalysts believe women have a fraught relationship with death because we “die” every month. As someone who’s ended up in the ER and in ambulances from my period, that sounds about right. Even so, I had no early horror story. In fact, I don’t remember it at all. With two older sisters in the house and VERY light embarrassment receptors, I just didn’t mention it all and didn’t need to. I vaguely recall my mom asking about mid high school and mumbling some sort of “MOM OMG-FOR LIKE THREE YEARS DON’T LOOK AT ME.” (BLUSHING HARD.) The other half of HOITO siphoned off lunch money to buy her own feminine products rather then disclose.

But here we are choosing a Period Pin to mark the occasion, it’s a new world! When asked how Sissy was taking it, Fern said “She’s excited cause she gets to be part of the conversations with her friends about it.” While I have no idea when I actually got my period, I am SURE I lied it about for at least two years before that to be a part of that exact conversation.

I lied to feel older, to be maybe NOT embarrassed that I didn’t. But then I was embarrassed that I did and took pains to hide that too. Would I have ever worn a pin to celebrate it then? I wish I would have been the girl that did. Now we have a girl that IS that woman. Other options for Sissy: Period Pantie Keychain. Ovary Girl Gang Enamel Pin. Diva Cup Pinback Button. Fern has already offered to buy the first Diva Cup when Sissy is ready to “witch up.”

Covering many occasions, a Girls To the Front Pin. Now that she’s a woman, it’s time to start advocating for all the girls. Already this year, we’ve marched, we’ve protested, we’ve written letters and called Congressmen. I do that for my nieces, both by blood and by love. And I hope they do it too – for themselves, the women that paved the way for them, the girls coming behind them, the women who don’t have their privilege.

And one more, because even though this shit starts BEFORE we even reach our teens, Sissy can also now fight the patriarchy with a couple well placed patches. Dead Men Can’t Catcall Patch. Love you, Sissy. Go get ’em.

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