Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Disturbing "Developments"

It's taken me nearly a week to summon the nerve to write this post. You see, I grew up with a younger brother. We did "boy" stuff: foraged through the woods surrounding our house, made forts, played "guns", rode our bikes at kamikaze speeds down ridiculously steep hills, wrestled, farted on each other's heads...you know, boy stuff. Being the older brother, I knew what it was like to defend a sibling. The only two fist fights I ever had in my life were on account of my brother's mouth. It got him into trouble, and I went 1-1 trying to bail him out. But that's what boys do. It was all I ever knew growing up. I was ill-prepared to become the father of two daughters.

Diane and I and were married right out of college after five years of dating. Yes, we were high school sweethearts, though, technically we didn't start dating until after Diane graduated. We shelved any form of birth control at around the fifth year of our marriage when we decided it was time to start a family. At that point I knew I wanted boys, or at least a boy, with whom I could mold and shape and engage in activities that display all of that father/son testosterone-laden bravado...like farting on each other's heads. But weeks stretched into months into years with no results. Diane wasn't getting pregnant and we were both starting to worry. Most of our friends were starting families and would inevitably ask us, now nearly into our eighth year of marriage, "So, when are you going to have a baby?"

"Well, we're working on it," I wanted to say. "But so far it seems like I might be shooting blanks. Thanks for asking!" Of course I didn't say this. We'd just smile politely and shrug our shoulders. At this point it didn't matter to me whether we had a boy or a girl. I just wanted to be a dad.

Diane and I were just about to the point of seeing a fertility specialist when one day she walked into our apartment and pulled a home pregnancy test out of a Walgreen's bag. "Really?" I asked, and Diane nodded. She peed on the stick, set it down on the vanity, and we waited nervously on the bed. Positive. We were going to be parents. I guess I wasn't shooting blanks after all! It was one of the happiest days of my life.

"It's a little girl!" the obstetrician confirmed several weeks later. I broke out into a cold sweat. In the weeks following the positive pregnancy test I had regressed from I'll-be-thankful-to-have-a-child mode to I-really-want-a-boy mode. Or maybe I'm-scared-to-death-to-have-a-girl mode is more accurate. I immediately conducted a mental inventory of all the girls I dated, kissed, or otherwise tried to take advantage of during my pubescent years (thankfully, a short list), and I immediately repented of any wrong-doing, as if it might help the current situation. I was going to have a daughter. And the fact that nearly every guy we told responded with a varying version of "better get yourself a bat/shotgun/weapons of excruciating torture" didn't help the situation either.

All that crap flew right out the window after Kailey was born. She was the most beautiful baby in the history of babies, as far as I was concerned, and she had me hook, line, and sinker from the get-go. Kyra was born 20 months later (so much for shooting blanks...why the hell did it take so long the first time?), and I was resigned to the fact that I would be the father of daughters and that I wasn't going to worry about those teen years. We'd cross that bridge when we got to it.

It seems that bridge is a lot closer than I'd like it. Last week, on Halloween night, we had just gotten home from trick-or-treating and the girls were in the process of taking their baths. I was sitting in the living room chatting with Diane's folks and handing out candy to the last of the trick-or-treaters when Diane walked into the room. "Kailey just walked up to me and said, 'Mommy, my chest really hurts!'" I didn't think anything of it and just attributed her comment to the list of daily ailments that seem to afflict the girls. But I noticed Diane and her Mom grinning while exchanging a knowing look.

"Well, they say that girls are developing earlier these days," her Mom replied.

"I don't remember them hurting so much as itching, though they were a little sensitive, I guess," said Diane.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. My mouth about hit the floor. Are we talking about what I THINK we're talking about? What the HELL! They must have seen the horror on my face. "She's eight," I gasped. It was all I could muster.

"Yeah, they say that girls are developing earlier," my mother-in-law repeated.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard you the first time. They who? Who are these "they" people because I'd like to have a word.

"She's EIGHT!" I grunted.

"Haven't you noticed," said Diane. "The past month they've been...swollen?"

Oh, Dear Lord in Heaven Above, I could not believe we were having this conversation. But sadly, I had noticed.

"Yes, but, but I guess I just figured we just needed to cut down on the afternoon snacks," I stammered.

"Honey, you don't gain weight in your boobs!"

"You did."

It's amazing how two seemingly simple, harmless words can have such a devastating effect. Note to all men, which is really a no-brainer, never, and I mean NEVER, make any mention of weight gain to your spouse, boobs or otherwise.

"Only because I was having YOUR babies!"

My mother-in-law rescued me by turning the conversation to the scientific reasons surrounding early development in young girls, but I really couldn't tell you what she said. My head was swimming with the inevitable: puberty was coming and it had blind-sided me. I think I would have been more mentally prepared for this if she were 10. But she's only 8. And I am freaking out. Since Christmas is just around the corner, I'm going to start on my Christmas list. Top three items? Baseball bat, shot gun, weapons of excruciating torture.


Andie D. said...

I wanted a girl with all of my heart. When my first born turned out to be a boy, I had a lot of the same feelings you had about (in reverse, of course).

Now I have a little girl too. Everyone tells me that girls are easier than boys when they're little. These same people tell me that they are SO MUCH HARDER when they are teens. Whooooo hoooo!

I can't even imagine my baby girl as a tween. Nope. I'm going to stay in denial as long as I can.

Although I'm not sure how long that will last since at age 2, she's already asking when she can be a grown up so she can get boobies.

the battered ham said...

Denial, for a while, is good. Until you're shocked out of it! Our girls are infatuated with pee pees and boobies. At first it was cute, but now that they're getting a little older it's bordering on disturbing.