What Happens When Annie Learns About Puberty?

 

Hey! For my Reproductive Rights class we have to present a Civic Engagement (Activism) Project. I could have chosen a bunch of other approaches but I liked the idea of spreading knowledge of puberty and sex education through my blog. While in my classes, it shocked me learning that so many teenagers and even adults lack the proper sex education and I wanted to write a story about a young girl named Annie who is eager to learn more about sex education. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion especially in regards to child-rearing but for those who are interested, I hope you enjoy. The reading level for this story will be middle school aged.

I hope you guys like it! (I suck a drawing so I am using images from the internet)


What Happens When Annie Learns About Puberty

by,

Mecca-Amirah Jackson

It was Annie’s 13th birthday when her whole life changed. As she blew the candles on her birthday cake, she felt a sharp pain in her lower abdomen. Excusing herself, Annie went to the bathroom to what was wrong.

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What is going on?! Annie wanted to scream. There was blood on of her panties! Calling for her mother, Annie tried to remember what her Health teacher told her what to do. Sitting on the toilet, Annie grabbed her iPhone and texted her mom to come to the bathroom.

Annie’s mother came into the bathroom, “What is wrong Annie?” she had asked worriedly.

Trying to stay calm, Annie replied, “Mom, there is blood coming from down there. I think I have my…period.”

She looked at her daughter and smiled. “It’s okay, Annie. You are a woman now. I will get you another pair of panties and you can use a pad.”
“I am a woman now,” Annie said to herself as she waited for her mom to come back. Hearing her younger cousins shouting and having fun from the other room, Annie realized how old she felt in that moment.

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After her mother came back with a pad, she opened it and showed her how to use it properly. “This one has wings so it will stick on you underwear and won’t move as much.” Annie’s mom smiled at her encouragingly as she demonstrated it to her.

Staring at her underwear as if it was a foreign object, Annie did what her mother told her, cleaned up and she went back to her birthday party. Blowing out the candles, Annie did not feel excited like the other birthdays she had. Unsatisfied with her mother’s explanation that she was a “woman” now, after her birthday, Annie decided she would go upstairs to look at her mirror to see any differences.
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Upstairs in her purple room, Annie stepped over the pile of clothes on her floor as she leaned closer to the mirror. “I don’t look like a woman,” Annie said, lifting up her shirt. Thinking of her mother, who had large breasts and wide hips, Annie did not understand how she was a “woman.” Poking her skin and turning this way and that to see if maybe if she sucked her stomach in and tilted, she would appear to have a woman’s hourglass physique.

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That night, Annie made a list of questions she wanted to ask anyone who was willing to answer.

tumblr_inline_nuqilu5B3E1t38l0q_500.jpgThe questions Annie listed were:

  • What is puberty?
  • What does it mean to be a woman?
  • When will my breasts come in and how big will they be?
  • Why do I get my period and how long will my period last?
  • What is safe sex?
  • Are tampons better than pads?
  • How do I get pregnant–can I get pregnant?
  • Does sex hurt?
  • Do boys go through the same thing?
  • What are condoms?
  • How else will my body change?

That morning, Annie sat at the breakfast table and was determined to get her questions answered. As her father reached for the orange juice, Annie blurted out, “What does it mean to be a woman?” Her father almost spilled out all of his the juice. Annie did not understand why her parents looked shocked and uncomfortable with her question. Her father nudging Annie’s mother, Annie’s mother sighed and said, “Because you are now a woman, you can have babies.”

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“Oh!” Ana was surprised. She did not understand why she can now have babies but yesterday, she could not. Annie’s father hurriedly adds, “But you need to be married first before having babies.” Noticing her parent’s uncomfortable face, especially her father’s, Annie ate her breakfast fast and when she heard the bus driver honking outside, she ran out.

When Annie got on the school bus, Annie saw her best friend Medina and sat next to her.
Noticing her weird expression, Medina asks,“What’s wrong Annie?”
“I got my period last night and now my parents are acting funny,” Annie huffed and glared out the window.
Medina laughed, “Yeah. When my older sister got hers, my parents got weird too.”

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“I remember!” Annie thought of Medina’s older sister Maya. Her older sister looked exactly like Medina but was a little taller and curvier. “Maya had to start wearing a hijab, right?”
“Yes. In my religion, when a girl hits puberty, she has a choice to wear the hijab.”
“When you become of age, will you do so as well?”Annie remembers the pretty colored hijab’s her best friend’s sister wore and could imagine how amazing they would look on Medina.
“Yes! I am very proud of my religion and I cannot wait.”

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Brimming with questions, Annie could not wait until Health class fourth period. When the bell rang, Annie had her hand up before her teacher, Mrs. Davidson settled her bag down.
“Mrs. Davidson! Which is better, tampons or pads?”
“Annie?!” Her teacher looked at her in shock.
Confused at her reaction, Annie said, “Well weren’t going to talk about puberty today?
“Yes, but we will only talk about hygiene.”
“Isn’t my question similar?

“No, Annie. It is an inappropate question to ask.”

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Angry and embrassed after class, Annie ran to the library. Checking her email, Annie sent an email to her pen-pale Claudia who lives in Bogota, Columbia.

Annie: Hola, Claudia, how are you?

Claudia: Hello, Annie. I am fine, how are your classes today?

Annie: Frustrating. I had questions about puberty today and my teacher refused to answer me.

Claudia: Really? Maybe I could help.

 

8ixKndAip.jpgAnnie: Awesome! What is safe sex?

Claudia: Well, Annie, because my family is very Catholic, we do not believe in using contraceptives or anything that would prevent pregnancy.

Annie: Oh! What are contraceptives? Like condoms?

Claudia: Uh…yes you can use a condom or take birth control pills but it would be better to wait to have sex until your married.

Noticing how uncomfortable she was making her friend, Annie decided not to ask her anymore questions.

Annie: Great, thank you! 

When the bell rang to single the lunch bell, Annie was annoyed. Having even more unanswered questions, she decided to text her older sister who went off to college. While waiting for an answer, Annie decided to find her friend Karyn, who she met at summer camp. A redhead with a cloud of pretty curls, Annie decided to sit at her lunch table.

“Hey, Karyn!” Annie smiled at Karyn and her group of friends.

“Annie! Happy Belated birthday by the way. How was it?”

Remerging that Karyn is a few more months older than her, Annie grew excited. “Thank you! My birthday was awesome. I got the new iPod and headphones that I wanted. Also, I got my first period.”

Looking at her in shock, Karyn pulled Annie to the side and whispered, “Not so loud.”

“Oh,” Annie furrowed her forehead in confusion. “Are we not supposed to talk about it? We are all girls though.”

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“Yes, we are all girls but it is so…inappropriate to talk about. You should talk to your family about it.”

“I did! But they barely told me anything.” Annie growled in frustration. “Can you answer some questions for me? Like what should I use, a pad or tampon. Or, what is safe sex?”

“Annie!” Karyn look as uncomfortable as Claudia sounded over email. “I do not want to talk about that and I am abstinent.”

“Abstinence?” Annie added that word to her ever growing list.

Looking less uncomfortable now, Karyn leaned back and stated proudly, “Yes, I practice abstinence. Meaning, I will abstain from sex until I am married. Abstinence is a 100% way from preventing pregnancy and diseases.”

“Oh, that is interesting.” Annie’s head was swimming with information now. “But what if I do not want to wait until I am married?”

“You should not say such things Annie.” Karyn went back to her food, dismissing Annie.

Karyn’s friend’s turned away from Annie and Annie never felt more confused and hurt. Going back to her friends, Annie sat down and blew out a breath of frustration.

Her pocket vibrating, Annie took out her phone and saw that her sister texted her back.

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Chrissy: Hey sis! Sorry I was in class. What’s up?

Annie: I am at lunch so I can’t talk for too long. But I got my period last night :0

Chrissy: :0 Yeah, mom told me this morning when I called her. U ok?

Annie: No really 😦 I have been trying to ask people questions all and no one has been helpful.

Chrissy: I can imagine. I was pretty clueless for awhile too but I found this cool website that helped me out.

Annie: Really?! Send me the link! 

Chrissy: Got you sis! https://www.girlshealth.gov/body/puberty/

Once I am finished with classes for the day, I will FaceTime you and we can talk 🙂

Annie: Thank you sis 🙂 I will check it out now!

Eager to check out the site, Annie was thankful that her next class was computer science. As her teacher droned, Annie typed in the website her sister gave her and smiled.

Every question on her list was answered by the time the next bell rang. Annie was even able to look at diagrams of the transition between girls and women bodies. A smile on her face the entire day, Annie went home that day and revised everything that she learned.

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Though Annie was a little annoyed that she had to learn about puberty from the internet, Annie realized she was happy that the knowledge was easily accessible and when she decided to have children in the future, she would want to sit with them and explain to them what she learned.

Sitting on her bed, Annie saw her sister trying to FaceTime her and she knew that she would be okay.

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