Lily is my best friend in the whole world. We've known each other since we were three—almost nine years. She is pretty and smart and nice. We do everything together. We have always done everything together. When Lily learned to swim, I learned to swim. When Lily took ballet lessons,
I took ballet. When Lily took horseback riding lessons, I did, too. Although she was always a little more graceful and a little better at everything than me, it never seemed to matter. I would try harder and I could hang in there. If I put my mind to it, I could do what she did.
We tell each other everything. We have no secrets. We know the names of each other's secret crushes. We tell each other every little embarrassing thing that happens. She is the one person that knows me better than anyone else. I have always loved my friend Lily. Actually, everybody loves Lily.
But today, if I hear the name Lily, I will scream! I will scream so loud it will shatter a window. If I think about my best friend, I will get so angry, I will throw something. The thing is, she hasn't done anything to me. Nothing. Nada. Zip. She's always super nice. I mean, if you knew her, you would totally be on her side. But it's just not fair! Everything is easy for her. Did I mention that she is perfect in every way?
Nothing is easy for me. I am too small, too skinny, and not too great at math. My mother says, 'Claire, you are the perfect you. You are beautiful and smart.' Well, duh, she's like my mom. What else is she going to say? But she's wrong. All of my friends are looking older. They are 'developing' as Ms. Schwartz, our science teacher, says. Me? I could still pass for a seven-year-old! What if I am some sort of freak that never develops?
Lily just called me. From her new cell phone! I try to be excited for her. Listening to her happy, squeaking voice, I forget about how frustrated I am and how perfect she is. Still, I am now officially the last girl I know who doesn't have a cell phone. My mother says that I am too young for one. She doesn't understand why I would need a phone. Once again,
she thinks that I am just a kid. She thinks that because I am small, I am too little to be taken seriously. Well, my mother seriously makes me a little crazy!
Does the word 'puberty' make you want to roll your eyes? Does it sound like some grown-up word that comes before a very embarrassing talk? Puberty can be confusing, embarrassing, and exciting all at once. That's the way it is for almost everyone. Reading a book about it may seem really awkward or really helpful, or maybe a little of both.
The more you learn about your body and the way it works, the less embarrassing it will be. It's even pretty interesting sometimes, and you'll be glad you know what's going on. Even though you will be reading about some awkward stuff, like breasts growing, pubic hairs sprouting, acne blooming, and periods starting, you'll find it less embarrassing as you learn more. You may think some of what you learn here is gross, some of it is neat, and some of it . . . well, you may not really know what to think about some of it. That's all normal! We'll teach you some things that will make puberty easier to understand and easier to talk about. We promise you three things by the end of this book:
1. -You'll be proud you know so much.
2. -You will be more comfortable asking questions about growing up.
3. -You will be more comfortable talking about your body and the amazing (and sometimes confusing) things it does.
What Is Puberty, Anyway?
Puberty is a pretty unusual word. What exactly does it mean? Well, the word 'puberty' comes from a Latin word, pubertas, which means 'adulthood.' It also comes from another Latin word, pubescere, which means 'to grow hairy or mossy.' Hmmm. That's pretty descriptive.
To say it simply, puberty is the process of growing up. It's the time when your body changes from a child to an adult. For girls, it takes about five years to get all the way through puberty, but the most noticeable changes happen over about three years. Most girls start puberty between the ages of eight and twelve. Most boys start between ten and fourteen. So remember, sometimes it may seem like you are the only one dealing with body changes, but everyone goes through puberty.