I’m sure you’ve seen this by now. (And if you haven’t, please watch. I’ll wait.)
Sorry if anyone felt squeamish, but I’m guessing if you’re of the female persuasion, you loved it. Or hate-loved it.
I know I did.
And it was timely, what with having to drag Charlotte into a park restroom in Tribeca the other day while I took care of business, and Campbell’s newest obsession of confiscating my tampons for science experiments in the bath tub.
There are 5 closets in our apartment and we refuse to pay for storage space, so most of our stuff is not too far out of reach. Of course we lock up the toxic cleaning supplies, good jewelry and my Judd Nelson autographed napkin, but sooner or later the kids get into most of what we’ve got.
Including feminine hygiene products. Which are puzzling little doodads.
To my 3-year-old, my explanation was a generalization followed quickly with a misdirect: “Oh, that’s just for me – hey gee, look, if you toss it in the sink, it grows!” Sea monkeys be damned – tampons are MUCH more impressive!
But to my 5-going-on-15 year-old, I kind of had to be truthful. Yet modify the truth so that it’s not completely over her head and scary. I mean, we are talking about BLOOD here. And where there is blood, there is usually pain and suffering. Not too off the mark in this case, but how to contextualize that in a way that conveys: “Well, it’s just something you live with. For about 40 years.”? And the means with which you must deal with it will never ever ever go on sale. (Seriously – have you noticed you can’t ever get a price break on the monthly necessities?)
Back in the public bathroom off Pier 25 in Hudson River Park the other day…it was a long shlep back to Queens at the end of a full day, and I required a changing of the guard, so to speak. I couldn’t ask my first grader to wait where I can’t see her, so I pulled her into the stall with me. And started unwrapping.
“Do just girls need that?”
“Do I need that?”
“Not yet. It’s for when you can have babies, but aren’t having babies.” (I admit, that makes no sense.)
“What’s the red?”
“Blood. It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt. It’s extra blood I don’t need.” (Not a total lie.)
“Every time there’s blood?”
“Just one time a month.”
And then she walks in on me in the bathroom at home the next day. “I thought you said just one time a month.”
“Well, it happens over the course of a few days EACH month. So that’s what I meant by once. And also…GET OUT!”
I’ve probably left her sufficiently confused and fearful. But thankfully, companies like Hello Flo are jazzing up this coming of age thang. Becoming a woman (on the inside, anyway) is trending! Look at the aisles of drugstores these days. All neon and sporty with their “you’re still rockin’ and cute ANY time of the month, girl!’ packaging. I’m psyched for tweens. This stuff looks COOL now, begging to be displayed instead of hidden in the dark recesses of the underwear drawer. With brands throwing around words like “radiant” and “luxe” – which is EXACTLY how one feels while one is “on her cycle” (?!) – we’re putting the flow in the spotlight, instead of cloaking it in a virginally white shroud of secrecy.
A lot different than it was a couple of decades ago.
I remember one summer, the entire group of senior girls, age 12-13, sat out for swim. The camp director was furious. “Lou,” our counselor leveled at him. “They CAN’T.” He was amazed. “All of them?” Yes. Except for those of us who weren’t and just didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. (Guess which camp I fell in?)
So hooray for the frank and celebrated talk we’re having about this fact of life. I think that will make things easier for my kids as they get older. Yes, even my son. In fact, I’m now worried boys of his generation will get insanely jealous of all these party goods for the girls.
But I consider my age, 41, and think: Wow – I guess I can see an end in sight to all this. Probably 10 more years? And how AWESOME will it be not to deal with it (something I relished about being pregnant and then breastfeeding for over 4 consecutive years)?
And how sad that it would mean my babymaking days were over.
Every month I’m reminded: “I can still have a baby. I probably won’t. But you never know…”
Until one day you know you can’t.
How do you handle TMI topics with your young ones? And PLEASE let me know if you come across Groupons for any of the lady essentials!