24 Mar G Day Stories: Jenny
Jenny Lutes of Ruminating Mommy has always loved writing, and hopes that others can connect to what she has to say. Her aim is to be open and honest, and perhaps witty from time to time. Thank you for sharing your G Day story, Jenny!
When I was 10 we moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver. On my first day in my new school, I was introduced to the class and shown which desk would be mine. Moments later the boy in front of me turned around and said a mean comment, and his friend laughed. I didn’t understand why they picked on me – I couldn’t see what was so different about me – now I can see that they tormented me because I was shy and didn’t speak up.
(That boy and his friends would go on to bully me almost every day until grade 12 when they finally left me alone. They all hit on me in college and were shut down.)
My parents separated when I was 11, but I wasn’t upset about it because I knew that we all would be better off if they divorced. My Mom, sister, and I lived together and I remember it being a time of constant play and I had no thoughts about my outward self (despite the bullying). Except that one day I noticed the hair on my legs and decided to shave – in secret – and cut my leg pretty badly…I still have the 2-inch scar over my ankle. (When my girls are older I’ll be sure to explain the wonders of shaving gel vs. soap.)
I remember waiting expectantly for my first period in grade 7. My Mom was with me when I realized it came, and she said, “Well, now you’re a woman.” There was no embarrassment for either one of us because I’d learned about periods, and period related products, in school. She was comfortable talking with my younger sister and I about most things – possibly because she was a young Mom (30 at the time). As well, she had a positive and supportive experience with her Mom in her adolescence regarding her first period.
For me, the years of 10-12 were just about being a kid. I rode my bike, played with Barbies, and spent a lot of time on the beach looking for starfish and sand dollars.
My Mom had no scale in the house ever, and it wasn’t until I was 16 that I had any comparison thoughts looking at my peers. Even then I don’t remember beating myself up mentally; I just observed that we all looked different and some girls were given nice attention for their long blond straight hair (mine was dark and curly), and their trendy clothes, and whom they were friends with. I felt like the people who made fun of me didn’t know the real me – that they were weak and had low self-esteem. I had fun with my friends and focused on that.
All of the discomforts helped me to grow and become self-reliant, and to listen to my kind inner voice, and to remember to be thoughtful with my words. I have 2 daughters now, and I know that their experiences will be whatever they will be, but I’ll do what I can to help make the transition into adolescence a positive one.
PS. The other day my toddler started emptying the bathroom cabinet and came across some “sanitary” items. When my 7 year old noticed what the box was, she told me what the items were, and when and why they would be needed. (Thank you Saleema Noon Sexual Health Educators for the elementary school visits.)