When the signs of puberty first made themselves glaringly obvious, I asked Em whether she wanted me to "make a big deal" when she eventually got her first period.
"What do you mean by 'make a big deal'?" she asked, somewhat warily.
"I mean, do you want me to just give you the stuff you'll need and then pretend like nothing happened, or would you like it if I took you out for a special 'woman's night' or something like that?"
"Could we go to Tony Roma's?" she asked. My daughter is nothing if not a baby-back-rib fanatic.
"We sure could," I answered.
"Then, yes. I want you to make a big deal," she said with a grin.
That was more than a year ago, maybe even two. I've rechecked her feelings on the matter now and again, and they stayed steady. And so, tonight, my daughter and I shared half an onion loaf and a spinach-and-artichoke dip, and then each had a half rack of baby backs followed by an apple tart (for her) and velvet cake (for me). She asked questions; I answered them. We walked around the neighborhood near the restaurant, stopped at a drugstore for supplies, then browsed at a bookstore just because.
When I laid down with her at bedtime, which I do every other night--her brother gets the odd-numbered dates, she gets the even-numbered ones--she put her arms around my middle. "That was really fun," she said, with a yawn. "Thank you so much for making this so special for me."
"Thank you," I answered, "for letting me."