When my daughter was nine, I told her she was a werewolf.
I can’t really say I am an ordinary parent, and I wouldn’t ever want to. I’ve tried to be as open as possible with my daughter, since the day she was born. There were things I refused to be open about, like why her puppy was vigorously “dancing” with his blanket, or what certain phrases meant in songs.
As a father, I am petrified by having a daughter. I am even more frightened by my daughter becoming a woman. Those fears are possibly the most normal fears I have as a parent.
It began simply enough, she was taking a bath. Any parent can tell you a kid in the bath tub is able to sit, splash, or examine their water induced prune hands for hours if left unattended. My daughter prefers to wash her entire rubber duck collection, numbering over a dozen. So, being the irritable person I am, I would poke my head in every so often to remind her to wash herself as well. This day I poked my head in, and she yelled at me.
“Dad, you can’t just come into the bathroom now, it’s awkward.” she scolded me.
“Okay, I just wanted to tell you to hurry up.” I said, as I wandered away dazed. I couldn’t understand what had happened that made it awkward. After trying to figure it out for a few minutes with no success, I decided I would just ask her why it was awkward now. Soon she was out of the tub, and changed into pajamas.
“Hey, why do you think it’s awkward if I come into the bathroom now?” I asked truly perplexed.
“It is awkward. I’m not a baby.” She said simply.
“I know, but how is it awkward now, but not last week?”
“Dad! I am getting older, and…You know I have hair.”
“I know you have hair. You put your whole head in the tub, and get soap all over your face…Wait, hair on your head right?”
“No, not on my head.”
“Oh…Gross!” I blurted out before I could stop myself. It felt like I was going to pass out. I couldn’t look her in the eye. I just agreed to knock next time, and I have since that day. I just yell through the door, and that solved the awkward oblivious dad problem.
Unfortunately, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head. It kept popping up, and refused to be ignored. So, I decided to talk to her about the changes her body was going through. The next day, I was sitting watching movies with her. I took a breath, closed my eyes, and started talking.
“You know, when you get older your body changes. Boys & girls get hair growing all over their bodies, their voices change, and they get zits. Since you are a girl, you have other things that will happen.”
“Like what?” she asked, with her irritating honest curiosity.
“Let me see how I can say this…Well, you are a werewolf. Actually, all girls are werewolves. You grow hair on your armpits, and crotch. Your voice changes, not like boys voices do, but it still changes. Then you bleed for a few days a month, and feel like attacking people, just likes a werewolf.”
“Dad!!” she yelled. She was used to my odd parental lectures enough to know I was making the seriousness of her menstrual cycle & body hair into a joke.
I smiled, and started searching the web for a picture that would help me explain better what I meant. I found it, and left it up on the monitor to drive the lesson home.
“Plus, you will be really good at basketball, and playing air guitar riding on top of vans. Be careful though, because dog whistles will hurt your ears.”
Then I showed her the picture of the teen wolf, of the movie Teen Wolf, standing atop a van playing air guitar in all his werewolf glory.
“That’ll be you soon, now that you’re becoming a woman.”
I then began playing air guitar, and singing a horrible song I created for this lesson, “meeddly-meeddly period blood meeddly your a werewolf!” I did this until I was crying from laughter. She was grinning ear to ear, but shaking her head at me. She knew I was joking, but my joke helped me break the ice on a topic that is very sensitive.
“I am joking, but if you suddenly realize you are having your period just ask to go to the nurse at school. If you are scared, or upset you can call me, or your mom, okay?”
“Okay Dad!” she answered.
Then I began playing my air guitar & singing my song. We even watched Teen Wolf. It was a very big day for me as a father. I realized that talking about touchy subjects sometimes just needs a bit of humor.
I explained the story to her mother. I told her honestly, that my biggest worry was that she would begin her cycle when she wasn’t with us. My hope was she would relate this sometimes traumatic experience with humor, and not fear. I am so committed to this concept that when she got her first bra I told her it looked like Spiderman’s eyes.
My only hope is that my awkwardness was inherited, along with my werewolf genetics.