I have a 13-year-old daughter.
I know I'm biased, but she's quite beautiful. She's turned the heads of many young men already.
I'm scared to death.
She and I have a very open relationship. We talk about a lot of things. Last fall, she and I ended up learning the same things in our health classes at the same time. As a college course, my chapter on the reproductive system was much more descriptive than the one in her seventh-grade book.
Studying such a topic at the same time opened a lot of doors for me to give her the talk. She asked questions; I answered openly. I thought I hit the jackpot when I completely grossed her out by letting her peruse my text book. (I think it was the picture of the uncircumsized penis she stumbled across. Come to think of it, it kinda grossed me out, too.)
Last night, she started asking questions again. Sports season is coming up, and since she runs cross country for her school, she needs to have a physical. She feared that meant she would have to endure the girl physical this time, too.
"No dear," I told her. "Pap tests aren't necessary until you either turn 18 or until you lose your virginity."
"Why do you think I would tell you if I lost my virginity?" Her ornery smile allowed me to believe she was only testing her limits. I'm comfortable believing this; she's a terrible liar and even worse at keeping secrets.
"You'd better tell me," I warned. "You haven't been vaccinated with Guardasil, so your chances of catching human papaloma virus and developing cervical cancer are greatly increased if you have sex. You need to get that shot before your hormones run off with you."
"Oh," she said. Her fingers pensively tapped her bottom lip. She thought about turning away, but quickly looked back at me. "What do they do during those pap tests?"
I explained. In excrutiating detail, I explained what happens, but she stopped me just after I reached the part about the swab.
"Nevermind," she said, tossing her hands in the air and walking away. "I'm joining the convent."
Atta girl, I thought. Atta girl.