Here’s something they don’t tell you how to deal with in parenting books – what do you say to your 5-year old son when he goes rummaging through your purse and pulls out a tampon, then holds it up inquisitively and looks at you and asks, “Mommy, what is this for?”
This happened to me the other day. When it did, I literally froze for an instant while I digested the moment. It was like when you fall off a bike and it only takes a few seconds but while it’s happening it feels like slow motion and forever. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, this here is a bit of a doozy. How the heck do you explain to a kindergartener what menstruation is?”
I could have lied, of course. That is a God given right of any parent. It would have been easier. For a few brief seconds, I pondered the possible answers: “Oh, it’s a new kind of extra long chapstick that comes wrapped in paper” or “It’s an early Christmas present that I haven’t opened yet.”
But I didn’t. For one, that would have immediately triggered Kaiden’s curiosity and he would have wanted to open the thing. I decided, instead, that I was up for the challenge of trying to explain periods and tampons and vaginas in the simplest terms possible. Simple enough for a 5-year old boy.
It was a lot harder that I thought.
This is how I started: “Well Kaiden. You see, you know that Mommies grow babies in their tummies, but when there is no baby in there, then they bleed out their putter.” (Yup, that’s what we call it in our family, courtesy of a British nanny growing up. Rhymes with “cooter.”)
Kaiden looked at me like I had been smoking crack. I thought a clarification was in order.
“Well,” I continued, “Mommies bleed because the blood was meant to feed the baby, but if there’s no baby, then the blood just comes out. So that’s what the tampons are for – we put it up our putter so we don’t bleed everywhere.”
Kaiden then gave me a look that only a boy could give, a mixture of total disgust and “you gotta be crazy.” And then he said, “Wouldn’t it be better just to stick it up your nose?”
Don’t you just love boy logic? So I answered, “Yes, Kaiden, maybe it would be better to stick it up my nose.”
So next time if you see me walking around with a string hanging out of my nostril, don’t freak out. It’s just that time of the month.