Tampon Tale | POTTY MOUTH Mom Web Series
The other day, I was enjoying some delightful outdoor time in Bryant Park with my 4-year-old in what we called “Goldilocks weather”, when I coughed and realized that I needed to change my tampon immediately. If you are a man and have no idea what I’m talking about, ask the nearest female. Or just use your imagination, and trust me that it’s probably worse than what you’re picturing. Anyway, we were right near the New York City public library, which I knew had clean-ish restrooms, so in we went. I had given no thought to explaining tampons to kids.
Because children are prone to wandering and because kidnapping is an actual thing, I always bring my son into the bathroom stall with me when we’re out and about. Sometimes they are roomy, but this one was not. There wasn’t much to distract him, so he immediately noticed the purple-wrapped tampon I pulled out of my bag and demanded to know what it was.
When he asks me awkward things in public places, he uses his outside voice, and this voice seems even louder when augmented by sweet bathroom acoustics. The following conversation sounded as though it was being delivered through a megaphone, with me hyper-aware that everyone in the bathroom was listening:
Him: What is that?
Me: Just something Mommy needs.
Him: Is it candy?
Him: Well what IS it?
Me: It’s a tampon.
Him: What’s a TAMPON???
Me: Can I just tell you later?
Him: Tell me now.
Me: I will totally tell you, but it’s private, and we’re in public right now, so can you wait until we’re out of here? Please?
Now let me engage more of your senses.
Me, sitting on the toilet, trying to keep my legs as closed as possible, hunching over and reaching between them to pull out the used tampon in such a way that my kid wouldn’t see the carnage and barrage me with additional questions.
My son, hovering over me, craning his neck to try and see something. Anything.
My hand, fishing around for a string, plunging into the cold toilet water because I was too focused on the conversation to judge the depth properly.
My other hand, dropping the fresh tampon on the floor but then dismissing my better judgment to toss it because it was my only one, and I needed it. (Does the 3-second rule apply to feminine hygiene?)
My wet hand, picking the tampon up off the bathroom floor and inserting it anyway.
(I know. I KNOW!)
My brain, thinking “Please don’t let me get toxic shock syndrome or some other horrifying vaginal disease. I know this is disgusting, but please get me through this horrifying menstrual moment.”
Then, just when I thought it was all over and we could move on from this hell, my son managed to catch a glimpse of the string dangling from my undercarriage and shouted, “MOMMY! Why do you have a tail???”
I managed to dodge all questions and drag him into the library, where I redirected his attention to the Winnie the Pooh exhibit where a photo of the real Christopher Robin and his actual original stuffed animals were on display. Crisis averted.
But I do expect this topic to resurface. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon… when I least expect it. I would love your opinions on how to explain periods and tampons to a Kindergartener in a way that won’t horrify him or result in him reporting his recent scientific discoveries to his classmates IN HIS OUTSIDE VOICE.
Yesterday, when I recounted the above incident to a friend, she said, “Why didn’t you just hand him your phone and tell him to look the other way? That’s what I always do.”
Omigodwhydidn’tIthinkofthat? That’s obviously what I’ll do next time.
My friend is a bloody genius. Pun intended.