Early Onset Puberty and a Mother’s Freak Out

July 13, 2010


The day before we dropped Leah off at camp we met some friends in Waco to swim and have some fun. Leah is roughly the same age as our friends’ kids and everyone enjoyed hanging out in the cool water in 100 degree central Texas heat.

While I was watching Leah swim I noticed as she lifted her arms up to try to do an underwater handstand (remember those? So fun) that there was HAIR under her armpits.

And then I died.

‘Cause, you know. She’s NINE. NIIIIIINE. I started to wonder if this pubescent phenomenon was happening, uh, elsewhere for her. (And NO I didn’t know already because she’s getting shy about being naked around people and I don’t go around asking her to show me her hoo-hah.)

So, I asked. And? Yes. A little.

And then I died again and looked at Husband who responded, “Woah, yeah, that’s all YOU. I’m in charge of That Boy and his penis.” Nice.

So what was I supposed to do? Leah had been wearing deodorant all school year because there had been a certain funk that was developing so I thought I had it covered. Now was I supposed to let her shave? At NINE?! And I was dropping her off for a month of sleepaway camp the next day?! Awesome.

I decided that I’d let it go, but talk to her counselors to tell them very specifically that if for ANY reason she became aware and self-conscious about it that they had my full permission to teach her to shave her underarms. Likewise if anyone else pointed it out – I certainly didn’t want her to be ridiculed for it. They said that girls at this age don’t usually notice those things, but just in case they understood and had a bag of razors for just such an occasion.

Yes, really.

I never really thought more about it until she came home and it was again apparent she was developing hair. Today I called the pediatrician just to ask if this is something we should be concerned about and he said he’d like for her to come in for some bloodwork to see if she does, indeed, have early onset puberty.

And then I died a third time.

I asked the nurse what this could mean and she said that there are ways, if it is the case, that this can be slowed down. I then asked if there is truly a reason to treat it besides the obvious reason of giving Leah giving her mother an aneurysm over this? And she didn’t really give me a good answer – just that looking at the bloodwork will tell us if there is a need to do anything.

Uh, huh.

So, back to the shaving. Leah’s in gymnastics camp which means lots of tank top leotards, sweat and arms flying every which way. What would you do? Would you let your NINE year old shave?

‘Cause I’m kinda at a loss. Which happens when you’re dead.

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15 Responses to “Early Onset Puberty and a Mother’s Freak Out”

  1. Knighton Says:

    No advice about what you should do for Leah. But I think you should make sure your liquor cabinet is adequately stocked. That’s what YOU should do.

  2. Kathryn in NZ Says:

    This puberty hair appearing suddenly (and it is sudden!) is freaky even at the “proper” age of 13
    With you on the at gym/ ballet thing. We’ve invested in some Veet, rather than letting her loose with a razor.

  3. Kollette Says:

    Ok, first of all, blessings.
    Second, Zach had to – HAD to – wear deodorant at 8. (I swear it’s what we do to our food these days, but that’s not the exact issue here)
    Third, I think you could tell Leah that many girls/women (so she doesn’t feel like a freak) remove underarm and other hair so that it doesn’t show when they have on revealing outfits like bathing suits and leotards. And some don’t. And that she has a choice. And that you will support her (and teach her) whatever she would like.

    • Pammer Says:

      I agree with you about this being a result of the “conventional” foods we’ve been eating for a generation. Since switching to organic milk, I’ve seen some improvement, but we’re clearly in another level of ruh-roh here. 😉 Thank you for the blessings, sweet friend. xo

  4. Eileen Says:

    Oy, I feel your pain, even though Sarah’s 12. She had a classmate who started her period at 9, and had needed de-funk since she was 8. I agree with Kollette re: choices. I also agree with Kathryn- it’s freaky no matter what the age. I actually started CRYING when Sarah’s breasts became noticeably larger. It seemed like it was OVERNIGHT!!! She had those little bumps for so long, and then BOOM! There they were. I had to drink after I tucked her in. Here’s the thing that Leah needs to know (I tell Sarah this frequently): Everybody- every BODY is different, and G-d made us just the way he wanted. Sarah has a friend who has practically zero breasts (same age), but needs to shave her pits. Sarah, on the other hand, has NO pit hair, but started her period at the end of March. Lots of leg hair- she’s always had pretty hairy legs, thanks to her dad, but it’s blonde, the lucky shit, and she feels no needs yet to take care of that.

    Okay, I’m rambling- sorry ’bout that. I’d probably try the cream stuff, and wait until she’s a little older to toss her a razor. I’m kinda paranoid though, so feel free to ignore that. Hang in there!

    Motherhood: Not a job for wusses.

    • Pammer Says:

      I’m with ya. We’re not in the “boobie” arena yet, but her skin is so fair and porcelain that her dark hair just pops right out. And you are very right : Motherhood is CERTAINLY not for wusses. GAH.

  5. stephanie Says:

    I have no advice from the mom standpoint (obviously), but I was in gymnastics and started shaving at 10 (which is obviously a year older)… without my mom knowing. So, I think it’s probably better to go ahead and talk to her about it and see if she wants to start shaving, rather than have her try to figure it out on her own.

    (Also, my mom used to use an electric razor for her legs and a regular one for her underarms. I stole the regular one to shave my legs and once she finally noticed several months later, asked ME how I got my legs so smooth. She then switched to a regular razor.)

    • Pammer Says:

      That story about your mom is hysterical!

      I don’t think Leah is aware of any physical differences between her and her peer group, so by doing this, I’m kind of “accelerating” that development story, you know? I guess we’ll see what the pedi says on Thurs, too. Then we’ll have a bigger story.

  6. Elizabeth Says:

    It is happening earlier and earlier these days. I think the veet is a great option. Leah could get a little too worried about the hair. I know of a good adolescent doc in SL if you are interested. She specializes in this type of thing and this age group rather than just pedi cases.

  7. Allison Says:

    Well… Ying is like Sasquatch at 7.5. It has freaked me out since she was a baby. (She even has back hair!) So I get where you are coming from. It doesn’t help that she has really fair skin and then black hair. I am always waiting for someone to say something. (And, FYI- according to her ped, it is nothing. All labs look good and he was the same way until he became a teenager.) Ying is also probably going to have to de funk soon too. Goodness knows her feet need it now! Whew!

    I think Veet is an awesome idea. Razors scare me still after the damage I did to my leg in jr high. And I think the wording on choices is great too. Hang in there. I started waxing in 8th grade. Maybe that is an option?

    Motherhood is truly not for wusses!

  8. Jonathan Says:

    Interesting. I don’t get an option but to be involved in a house full of girls/women (as you know). Also, I know WAY more than most guys about everything because of IVF years ago…

    As far as I ever read, girls can hit puberty from 9 onwards. We’ve already noticed our eldest (also 9) changing body shape slightly. One of her friends (10) has already had to learn about *everything*.

    We’re not so much frightened by it, as realising it’s time to start preparing her for what’s going to happen – make sure she knows it is NORMAL, and she is NORMAL, and that she’s growing up 🙂

  9. Mocha Dad Says:

    I just went through the same thing with my nine year old daughter. I was freaking out while my wife was explaining to me that my sweet little darling was entering puberty.

    • Pammer Says:

      It’s super fun, isn’t it?

      We actually went to get the bloodwork done for Leah b/c nine, while possible for puberty, is not optimal. Turns out it’s NOT puberty, but we’ve uncovered a problem with her thyroid.

      So… on to the next medical adventure we go. Stay tuned.