Thursday, February 28, 2019

When a Period Leads to Question Marks



This evening my kids and I watched Period. End of Sentence. together. I kept having to parent-check myself because like the women shown in India, I think many of us grew up in a shroud of mystery surrounding our female bodies. (A quick shout out to my mom who was always generous with information and created a relationship with me where I could be candid and ask anything--I just didn't always know what to ask.) So sometime I find myself instinctively assuming that certain subjects are not appropriate for kids but are in fact relics of female-centric shame that need to die with me.

I have chosen to be frank with my kids. My kids know what menstruation is, why it happens, when it happens, and what to do when it happens. I gave them this information as they asked for it. So, when we watched this recent Oscar winning short tonight they knew what pads were, and why they were needed. They didn't understand the cultural ignorance about women's bodies, religious shame heaped on menstruating women, or the poverty that created a desperate need for hygienic pads. But they did understand the sexism. Even Iris cheered at the end (SPOILER) when the women were successful selling pads door-to-door because she understood that making money is what will help the women reach their goals in life--specifically going to school.

We paused the film as my kids asked questions--there were a lot of them. The conversation went well into the night--over dinner, and homework hour, and reached the natural ending of bedtime.

I was happy Anson stayed to watch. He considered for a second that he might not want to, but was ultimately pulled in because there are two things Anson cannot resist: adult gossip and documentaries. He is curiously enticed by the very mentions of either past time. It delights me about him.

I tease my kids a little bit about how I have their future mapped out for them (of course I don't, I can't even think about two weeks from now)(also parental expectations make me squirm and feel nauseated). I tell Anson he is going to be a journalist (love of gossip and detailed story-telling), Ever will be the film-maker (loves to create story boards, write, and blow things up), Erin will be the lawyer (logic-centered intelligence while also empathetic while also cut-throat) and Iris will be our doctor (spends a good chunk of time studying books about the body and loves to administer band aids for anything that could possibly be considered injurious in the slightest). So as we sat and watched the documentary I thought about Anson sniffing out stories that needed to be told, Ever telling the story, Erin the women's advocate showing up to help represent, and Iris being there to make sure proper medical help was being administered.

I guess if we're all allowed to dream big, I get to maintain the hope that I birthed the perfect global-crises documentary crew.

You know, on the months I wasn't menstruating.

Thank you to Rayka Zehtabchi and congratulations on her well-deserved Oscar and one of the best Oscar speeches of our lives.