It's only funny in retrospect ;)
A girl's first period is supposed to be a tender moment of burgeoning womanhood. A time when her mother takes her by the hand, explains the facts of life, and all the things a girl should know about this new phase of her life. But, like Carrie in Stephan King's book, that was not to be for me.
It was a warm early summer day. I was eleven, my brother was three and we lived in Skyway on a lovely street between the elementary school where I'd gone to fifth grade and the high school that I would go to sixth grade in the fall. Our house had been built at the turn of the century and was built into/on top a hill. To get to the front door you had to climb up steps from the street to the lawn, and then the porch steps to the upper front door. The lower front door, to the side, was at street level and back in the day had been a little store with the owner living in the house above. Inside they were connected by a stair in the pantry.
I was tall and gangly, my brother was short and stout. Actually, he was kinda rectangular. No neck, a square sturdy body, and plump arms and legs that were always moving. He was so ADD that when he was an infant the doctor gave HIM sleeping drops so my mother could get some sleep. In the Skyway house my parents had a bedroom on the street level part of the house and my brother and I each had bedrooms on the upper floor, so technically we were three stories away from them.
In the spring my brother had kicked out one of his bedroom windows and my dad had covered the hole with cardboard and they moved him into the third bedroom on our floor. But then he threw everything out the window and most of his toys and things ended up on the roof, so they moved him again and he shared a room with me.
So on this warm early summer day we were playing outside with our friends from across the street, a brown haired girl named Sandy and her little brother whose name I've forgotten when my brother said he had to pee and ran up into the house. At the time it was built indoor plumbing was somewhat new and expensive, so we only had one bathroom which was on the 'middle' floor.
About five minutes later we hear "Lookitme!" and my three year old brother is standing on the window ledge, having pulled the cardboard away from the frame and was getting ready to pee. Before I could even inhale to yell he wobbled, lost his balance, and with his little chubby arms pin-wheeling fell from the second story window.
He hit the window sill.
He hit the porch roof.
He hit the bushes.
He hit the ground.
And lay there stunned.
I ran up the steps to check on him. Our friends ran back home. It just now occurred to me that they didn't send their mom over to check on us. I guess they never told her. Odd.
He was laying there, stunned, and I helped him sit up. He wasn't crying or anything yet, and he had a nice gash on his leg about three inches long that was bleeding, but not much, because it was along his shin where there isn't a lot of blood flow.
Normally when I tell this story I lie and say we where home alone, but the truth is my mom had massive migraines and since he wasn't dead, I didn't see any reason to incur her wrath. Instead I pulled my up my 11 year old first aid resources and put him in the sunshine to keep him warm from shock.
Finally he started to cry. Then he saw he was bleeding. "IS THAT BLOOD!" He screamed.
Now, I'd never lied to my brother. Ever. So when I said "No, that's just paint from the window." he believed me, and stopped crying. If he had been five or six, he'd realize our house is all white.
I ran into the house and got a roll of gauze for his leg, but couldn't find any scissors to cut it with and my dad's big sheepskin coat. I used the whole nine yards around his leg and we sat in the sun, him wrapped up in the coat. It didn't take him long to get restless and he wanted to go play, but I made him sit with me until my mother got up.
By then the blood had scabbed into the gauze so when I said he had to go to the hospital and she didn't believe me and unwrapped him she pulled the scab away and then he really screamed bloody murder. (On a side note, she never doubted me again, and from then on just said 'get in the car' when I said someone had to go to the hospital.)
Since mom was freaked out, my brother was freaked out and it was harder to get him calm this time than when he actually fell out of the damn window. We bundled into the car and drove down to the ER to wait for service.
Now, I'd like to explain that my brother, even at three, was incredibly strong, just in case you didn't get in hint from some of the things he'd done in the narrative so far. When he got really excited, which was often, his entire body would stiffen up and quiver in ecstasy and when he got mad he would pick up and throw every object he could; including chairs and bookshelves. His every waking moment, all 19 hours of them, was spent in movement. So please don't be surprised when I tell you that it took four people to hold him down allow the doctor to examine him and stitch him up.
I wasn't allowed to go and help keep him calm, either. I had to wait in the hall. It was really hard for me, and I was sick to my stomach so I went to the bathroom and discovered a smear of red that heralds the next fifty years of biological slavery.
"Mom, mom, mom, mom." I said, tugging on my mother's sleeve as she stared white faced at the group of men and women who were holding down her youngest. "I started my period."
She absentmindedly dug around in her purse. "Go find a machine." She said. I knew what she was talking about because she'd sent me on this mission before. In fact, once I'd waited outside a corner store for over an hour for the male clerk to go on break so I could buy mom's supplies.
Now I looked all over the floor we were on for a dispenser, and couldn't find one. I checked the cafe area, nope. I checked the gift store, closed. I thought to myself... I know, I'll go to the maternity floor. After a woman has a baby, she has her period again, right? Nope. None of the public restrooms had a machine.
Finally I asked a nurse. She got me a little cardboard box with a pad about the size of a double decker sandwich and two safety pins in it. I went to the bathroom and carefully read the instructions and figured the damn thing out, and waddled back to the ER, feeling like I was wearing a diaper and starting to feel the wonder of cramps really kick in.
My brother was happy to see me; his safe shelter in a place full of mean people with needles and held onto me all the way to the car as we headed for home. Him with his big purple plastic heart around his neck "For Bravery" and me with a safety pin sticking me in a place I'd never given two thoughts about before today unless those thoughts were "Gotta go."
Somehow that still strikes me as being very unfair...
Created: Jun 26, 2009Document Media