I was 10 years old when I had the conversation with my Dad. It was a Sunday evening just before dusk. My Dad brought out a pack of sanitary pad and asked if I knew what it was, I had no clue. He opened it and then I realized I had seen it on TV. For 30 minutes I listened to his explanation about period, pads, how to use them and how to keep clean during menstruation. He told me I needed to keep that pack in my school bag at all times until I needed it.
At age 11, I went to boarding school and without hesitation, continued my practice of putting pads in my bag. Many people saw it and dissed me. I had no idea why carrying a pad was an issue. Why it was a thing to be ridiculed for. I told my Dad and he encourage me to carry one at all time regardless of the circumstance, he said “when the visitor comes, you could get embarrassed if you’re not ready”.
It wasn’t long until someone walked up to me in school and asked for my sanitary pad. I refused and was told another girl needed it urgently. It was in that moment I realized, this could happen to me at any time.
At 12, my mum called me aside during the holiday to tell me about period. I told her I knew everything I needed to know because my Dad has taught me. She didn’t believe me. I answered all her questions about sanitary pads and period and showed her the sanitary pad in my bag. She was so pleased at what my Dad did. Before I was 13, I woke up with a sharp pain. It was so painful I screamed. My school mother asked if it was period and I said I didn’t know. She asked a lot of questions and afterwards, looked at me and said “it is menstrual pain, makes sure you wear a pad to class”.
Right there, I understood what my Dad had done for me; I was prepared because he did what is considered the mother’s job. I was prepared because he ensured I was. My Dad didn’t want me to be ridiculed in public or in class with a stained uniform. He knew the boys would laugh and he shielded me. He knew people would talk about it for a long time and made sure I was ready so I don't get laughed at. That morning, I wore my pad like a pro, changed it when I needed to like a pro, disposed it off very nicely and washed my hands with soap, just like my Dad taught me.
Fathers shouldn’t wait for the mother to teach the daughter about menstruation, it is a very important issue and our girls need to be enlightened on menstrual issues from an early age.