In my grandmothers tradition

This is absolutely beautiful …


In My Grandmothers Tradition – A First Blood Story

“I was really young when I got my first period – a month after I turned nine. It was on a Sunday. I remember coming back into the house after playing outside for the afternoon with my sister – who, ironically enough, was almost 12 at the time she reading “Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret,” and eagerly awaiting her own “journey” into womanhood. I told my mom I’d be right back (my sister and I were supposed to set the table for dinner) because I really needed to go to the bathroom. On my way there, I realized that something was going on down there that had never gone on before. I didn’t need to pee, but something was leaking out of me. When I pulled down my pants I saw a huge brown stain and began screaming for my mom and aunt.

They asked me to tell that what was wrong (it’s considered very rude to disturb a Filipino woman while she’s cooking), but I couldn’t for the life of me get the words out. My aunt showed up first, looked down at me, and said something in Tagalog ( I think the word was “Hisos!,” which means “Oh my God!”), and ran for my mother. Mom walked in thirty seconds later and flipped out. She had absolutely no idea how to handle the situation – I mean, the entire household was awaiting my sister, Chloe’s first menstruation, and there I was, barely nine years old, the baby girl of the family, just bleeding away.

So while I’m hanging out on the toilet and my aunt and mother are just looking at each other figuring out what to say or do, the absolute worst possible thing happened: my dad came home and called out, “Where is everybody? What’s going on?” My father is a great guy and all, but he was the type of dad who didn’t believe in hugs or show affection. He farted out the melodies of songs and sang Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” at the top of his lungs in the shower. My mother called him the typical “immature, machismo, unrefined Filipino boy.” So when he showed up I wasn’t thrilled. My mom yelled something at him in Tagalog and he did three things: appeared in the doorway, laughed at me for two seconds, and went about his business. I was so embarrassed.

While my highly religious aunt went to go pray for my soul or something, my mom put me in the bathtub, washed me down there, and prepared some underwear. She showed me how to use a pad, and took me into the garage for a “Chinese ritual” (my Mom’s father was Chinese and she practiced a lot of the superstitions). What happened next was the strangest thing: she made me jump down a flight of three steps, over and over again. She said that it would make my period last three days or something.

I remember thinking I was going through the single most unique and crazy period experience. Now when I look back on it, I think it’s kinda cool because it was, for lack of a better word…multi-cultural. But at the time, I wanted nothing more than to be an American girl experiencing the American version of a first menstruation.”

Story from a WMNS36 (Women’s and Gender Studies) Seminar (Spring, 1998) project at Kenyon College.

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Photo: Lemuelin Christ

☾ Elena Zubulake ~ Occupy Menstruation
Sweet Earth Wisdom

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