Early Puberty and Other Mothers

Recently, my child’s school sponsored movie night on the playground.  As the sun began to set, we spread our blankets out on the lawn and settled in to watch Shrek.  But before the movie started, the D.J. played some music videos that brought the kids to their feet.

I smiled as I watched my child dance with crazy abandon alongside her pals.  Seeing her laughing with her friends and enjoying herself, I was happy in the knowledge that she was happy.  How great it is to be a kid, right?  But when the music stopped and she came back to our blanket, she was no longer smiling.

It seems that one of her classmate’s mothers had let it be known that she thought my child was too sexy for her age.

My little girl isn’t so little anymore.  She’s an early bloomer who towers over all the other kids in her class.  She wears a bra because she needs it and, just yesterday, became a woman in the biological sense of the word. Next week, my not-so-little girl will celebrate her 10th birthday.

We talk a lot about early puberty here at Strollerderby.  We report the latest findings that suggest working mothers, childhood obesity and high-meat diets might all be the cause of it.  As parents, we devour this information because we also know about the impact early puberty can have on girls who experience it.

Studies have shown that early puberty puts girls at higher risk for all kinds of undesirable things including behavioral problems as adolescents and cancer as adults.  Girls who mature early are more likely to enter into sexual relationships at a younger age than their peers and are at greater risk for substance abuse and suicide.

But what I haven’t heard is a conversation about how a little girl with breasts and curves is supposed to deal with adults who find her appearance offensive. She doesn’t dress sexy.  She wears what everybody else wears – shorts, jeans, tank tops and t-shirts.  She just happens to fill them out in a way that is unexpected for a girl her age.

Now that she’s technically a woman, should she stop dancing with childish abandon and go sit in a corner until her friends – and their mothers – all catch up?  Of course not.   Dancing on the field that day was a pure and joyful childhood moment that I hope will be followed by many more.  Her body may indicate otherwise, but she is still a child.

Her development was a surprise when it began two years ago, but by this point she and I both are comfortable with the changes in her body.   Clearly not everybody else is.   And while I don’t personally know the kid whose mother insulted my child, I hope for her sake that she doesn’t reach puberty for a long, long time.

Image:  Pink Sherbet/Flickr

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