When You Are Afraid to Say, “What?”

What goes on in the heads of nine-year-olds? It’s a frightening place their little brains and you never know what is going to happen when you say, “What?” Last week I picked up Sarah from her house and took her to dinner with me. We were driving along and I hear, “Guess what I got today!”

She had been at school so I wasn’t afraid then, “An A?” Called to the principal’s office? An F?” I was laughing throwing out all the school possibilities when she mumbles, “pummmmty.”


“You know what I said.”

“No I don’t, say it again.”

“Mom told me I would get it.”

“Oh, you got it? Today? Were you scared?”

“Yep, I got Puberty. Destini got hers a year ago. I wasn’t scared it’s just puberty!”

“Oh! Puberty. How do you know?”

“I just know.” She looks at me with a smirk and a knowing glint that shuts me up cold.

Stunned silence, there are questions, but which ones to ask and what would her mom want me to say. All this is going through my adult logical brain.

“So you started?” I began with vague questions to get the ball rolling.

“No, I just got puberty. Mom told me I would so I did. Today.”

Did you get anything new with puberty? I reached in the dark for more vague questions to shed some light.

“No, just puberty.”

“Ok,” I said without an idea of where to go next. “Congrats.”

“Thanks, Grandma.”

I had successfully weaved and bobbed my way through that landmine called puberty and I had not given more information than she was ready for, I had not overreacted and celebrated her nine-year-old womanhood. I simply got through it.

When I returned her to the house, I decided to share the wealth and asked my daughter, “Hey, Guess what Sarah got today. ”

“What,” she asked.  Oh the responses of those Mom’s that have not braved as many years with children as I have, She still blindly asks, “What.”

“Sarah, come tell your mom what you got today.”

I simply sat back and watched a repeat performance of the earlier drive home and smiled at my daughter’s confusion and regret having said, “What?”




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