“That day still haunts my mind. I’ll always remember it like it was yesterday. Every woman fears, dreads, or cheers on this moment. You all know the one. The highly-awaited day the faucet turns on. Only it’s not water.
I was thirteen years old and in eighth grade. Some would call me a ‘late bloomer’ (whatever that means). All of my friends had already gotten it in pretty places. At home. On the toilet. One on her damn pre-placed just-in-case emergency pads (honestly thank you to that mom – the genius – the legend). I, on the other hand, got it in the worst of places.
I had never been given the period talk. I knew it was coming but it was never on my conscious mind. All I knew was it was this thing that just happened and everyone shoved under the rug, embarrassed. It turned the girls pink. The boys threw around the term as an insult. Whenever someone made a poor shot in basketball during gym class someone would always complain, ‘Oh, what are you on your period or something?! Come on!’
My education went as far as this: Vagina. Blood. Woman. Mind blowing, I know. My brain cells were really EXPANDING. I didn’t know how, why, or when. What it all meant. My parents, frankly, were too uncomfortable to explain (girl, that’s a whole other societal problem for another day).
As I said, my vaginal D-Day arrived in the worst of places. Drum roll, please. My middle school class. Can you think of a worse place? And to make matters worse… you guessed it. I was wearing white jeans. WHITE. They should honestly be banned between the ages of 10-15, or whenever period prime time is.
I was sitting in the middle of Mr. Calhoun’s math class. It was my last period (ha) of the day (whoever thought math at the end of the day should be fired asap) and I was about to leave unscathed when, suddenly and without warning, the floodgates opened. And OH did they open.
I felt a gush. I had no clue what was going on. I honestly thought maybe I’d pissed myself. In my mind I thought, ‘What? No? I just went an hour ago.’ It couldn’t be. In a not-so-subtle subtle manner, I slowly inched my legs open to take a loo-
OH MY GOD, SHE’S ARRIVED.
SWEET MOTHER BABY OF JESUS LORD HAVE MERCY.
My cheeks turned red hot. And, of course, I just so happened to have a damn cold that week (dammit winter). With every sneeze, I felt a warm gush make it’s way earthside.
I honestly thought I could make it to the end of the class and just crisscross my jacket for damage control. Then, I’d scurry home and do the damn deed. Shove something under or up you know where and smuggle my pants into the garbage to hide the evidence. But no. Something worse happened next.
Mr. Calhoun: ‘I’m gonna need someone to come up here and solve this problem. Next, we’ll break up into groups of four and discuss the upcoming project.’
Mr. Calhoun: ‘Hmmm. I’m gonna have to pick someone if no one volunteers.’
Us: *motionlessly hide and revert into mental shell*
Mr. Calhoun: ‘Agatha (let’s just call me Agatha – I felt like an Agatha in that moment – no offense to other Agatha’s out there)! Step right up.’
Why must I have always been the teacher’s pet? A reliable know-it-all student. Why?!
I half shook my head no, turning pink. ‘Oh, come on. It’ll be quick.’
I slowly rose. My legs glued together. I tried to discreetly swivel from the middle of the classroom to the front whiteboard so as not to show the flood. My steps were small and slow. I must have been five feet from the board when I heard someone shout, from the back of the classroom, ‘OH MY GOD! SHE GOT HER PERIOD.’
Queue the roar of laughter. The howling. The screams. The jaw drops. The looks of utter disgust. I felt like I was looking out at a movie theatre audience during the screening of a slasher movie. Then queue the tears. Oh, those embarrassing tears. I couldn’t help it. I was mortified.
Mr. Calhoun: ‘Class is dismissed. Everyone out. NOW!’
When the audience left, he immediately asked if he could give me a hug. I nodded yes through my butt-ugly sobs. He then shooed away the rest of the students peeping the scene through the sliver of glass at the classroom door. The nosy pricks.
‘I am SO sorry. I had no idea.’
I twiddled my thumbs. All I could make out was, ‘…It’s fine.’
He waited and comforted me until the crowd of people all left to go home. He then escorted me to the nurse’s office, walking behind me the whole time, until I arrived.
‘Get her some new pants immediately please. Code 107.’ The school nurse nodded, smiled, and took me in from there. I never expected what would happen the next day. Not in a million years.
When I walked into my math class, last period, I was 5 minutes late after contemplating whether or not to go. I was terrified. Names had already been sloshed around ALL day. I heard muffled laughter as I walked by groups of boys and girls. I got new and random stares. I kept to myself.
I went straight to my desk and didn’t look up until I’d unpacked my notebook and poked through my bag for a pencil without a broken point. I couldn’t face the audience. I was the dunce. Then, I slowly looked up. I saw it.
Mr. Calhoun was wearing white pants with red paint running all down the middle. He loaded up his SmartBoard.
‘We will now begin our lesson. Today, we will be learning about the female menstrual cycle. A beautiful work of nature that should NEVER, and I repeat, NEVER, be shamed. If I hear about ANY of you laughing or making negative comments about what happened here in this classroom yesterday, let’s just say you won’t be passing math class this year. No ifs, ands, or buts.’ He looked over at me and gave me a wink.
I smiled bright and big to myself. I knew he had my back. My heart felt so full. I learned more about the menstrual cycle in that day than I had in my thirteen years of life.
The following week, we had a quiz on menstruation cycles. I very vividly remembering one of the boys who laughed at me say, ‘Wow. I didn’t know the female body was so complex!’
Needless to say, no one had to fail math class that year. And that, ladies and gents, is how you do the whole teaching thing right.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by a woman from Houston, Texas who wishes to remain anonymous. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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