The Slow-Cooked Sentence


Rachael Conlin Levy
“Bubble Love” by jurvetson.

The other day my daughter walked into the kitchen as I washed dishes and announced:

“I’ve started puberty.”

“Oh?” I said, pulling hands out of soapy water.

“I have hair growing under my arms,” she explained.

“Oooh. Well, congratulations!”

This girl is terribly excited about growing up. On her last birthday, she received the American Girl’s “The Care and Keeping of You,” and read it cover to cover. She discovered “It’s Perfectly Normal” on the bookshelf and spirited it away to her room to study the pictures in private. “The Period Book” still sits on the shelf, but I bet it’ll disappear soon, now that she’s taking sex-ed at school.

“Mom, what’s AIDS? Capital A-I-D-S,” she asked, as I snuggled with her in bed last night.

“It stands for Acquired Immune Definicency Syndrome,” I said. “It’s a sickness that attacks you’re immune system so your body has a hard time fighting off other illnesses.”

“Will I get it?”

“Probably not if you use a condom,” I said, then explained what a condom was and how it worked.

“Eeeeew. Gross!” she said. “I bet it’s uncomfortable for the woman. Can they break?”

“Naw, they’re actually pretty strong.”

And I told her the story of how, when I was a little older than she is now, my brother and I found condoms in my dad’s dresser drawer. We blew them up like balloons and tossed them through the air, our hands slick with lubricant.

“They never popped,” I said.

We giggled, and our laughter floated up and bounced against the older memory.

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