The truth about tampons: explained to a 4 yr old.

This is embarrassing but…this is the fruit bowl in our house.  Yes, there is fruit in there but there is also lots of other random shit such as: crayons, Sol’s inhaler thingy, a sharpie, a dried out piece of ginger, and a tampon.

Now this stuff is out of Sol’s reach but she’s been getting curious about helping me cook so she’s been up there with the step stool. “Mom, what’s this?” she asks while holding up the super plus tampon.

I felt totally unprepared…what the heck do I say? and with how much detail? How do I explain the menstrual cycle to a 4 year old?  This could get ugly and weird real quick.

In the 1 second I had to decide my next move I had a flashback…it was summer in the 80’s, I must have been 7 years old sitting on the floor of my leaf green carpet in my living room in Long Island.  My parents were sitting on our velvet brown floral couch, we were all watching People’s Court then a Summer’s Eve commercial came on.  It was for a douche, and I remember seeing the douche fill up with blue liquid.  I was wondering what all of that had to do with the girl running through the flowers? Did I need this? What was it for? I too wanted to run through flowers, would this liquid take me to a beautiful place?  Was it only for rich people? My older sister always alluded to things only ‘white girls did’ in an eyebrow raising way that I never understood…was this one of them? Was it something ‘slutty’? Couldn’t be…the woman in the commercial didn’t have tight pants on. At my 7 year old comprehension I thought something slutty had to do with having a “gap” between your legs….at least that’s what I heard my brother say a few times about the girl up the street when she wore tight pants. Anyway, I was stumped wondering why I couldn’t just figure it out? I wanted to know more.

I remember simply asking “what is that?” and looking behind me at my parents.  Their reaction has stuck with me for 30 plus years…they literally looked at each other in baffled silence, then slowly & silently looked back at the TV.  Crickets. No answer.  No acknowledgement that I was there, or had just spoke a word. Nothing. Nada.

I remember feeling instantly ashamed.  I felt like stupid girl asking another one of my stupid questions. Why couldn’t I just shut up and sit there with the blue liquid commercial watch it, and move on.  I felt like only smart people must know. Why couldn’t I figure out this blue liquid riddle??? Why? I remember that sinking feeling of concluding, I must be too dumb.

So guess what? I never did get an answer, because I never asked again.  And guess what? I really could have used a douche in my college years but guess what?  I DID NOT KNOW WHAT THE HELL ONE WAS.


Anyways, after I snap out of my flashback, I’m looking at Sol, with the super plus tampon in her hand, a spatula in the other (as we were in mid cooking lesson of fried cauliflower rice)…and I just took a deep breath, tightened the lid on the coconut oil & went for it.

The simple truth.

I said, “that’s what some women use when their vaginas bleed” in my best no big deal casual voice. “It helps to keep their pants and underwear from getting bloody.” She looked down at her body with a furrowed brow and confusion as she was processing what I said. Then there was a pause that felt like forever…I could only hear my heartbeat and the sizzle of the pan.  “Will I have blood?” she asked, “Yes one day you will… when you get older… and I’ll teach you all about it before then”. I felt like all of a sudden like I’m just gonna totally go for it…so I added, “and how to take care of your body and your clothes when it happens.” I felt nervous, and I didn’t know why.  I felt like that dumb 7 yr old that maybe should have kept her mouth shut & just kept watching TV.  I held my breath waiting for her next question that could send me reeling, was it about penises? Oh man I’m def not ready for the penis question!

She simply said “oh”, and turned around to keep right on stirring our cauliflower fried rice.

Yeeeeeeeah! I felt like popping my collar, brushing my shoulder off, doing a few booty pops. I felt like I was a bad ass mammajamma raising another badass who will be the little girl at school that know’s what’s up. The real story about vaginas and how cool they are, not some stupid story that her parents made up to hush her up, or no information at all, and be the girl that hides her bloody underwear behind her bookshelf for a year (um yeah, that was me). What was so terrible about telling me the truth about my own body? F that.

Knowledge is power.

Parenting has forced me to remember old stories I packed away where I felt powerless.  It has also helped me reclaim my power, and give it back to my curious 7 year old self that just innocently wanted to know about the blue liquid…& in my head I do exactly what she needed to be done 30+ years ago.  I walk over, sit close to her, look her right in the eye and tell her “it’s called a douche, some women use it to wash their vaginas (although the vagina is an amazing self cleaning organ but I digress)… and no, girl you will never need one to run through a field of flowers you just need legs, now go.”