Television and Tampons: A Bad Mix

**Warning: Post likely not suitable for anyone. My apologies.**

There I was, sitting on my enormous, too-big-for-the-space, oversized, overstuffed, brand new, baby sh!t brown, monstrosity of a sectional couch (can you tell I just absolutely loathe, er love it) (and no, I'm not showing you pictures of it. Yet.) minding my own business, knitting, while the kids were all sprawled out beside me zoning out on inappropriate television programming.

A commercial started and that is when things got a little hairy.

It was one of those flowery, women-power, 'I am menstruating, hear me roar' type of commercials. You know the ones. All the chicks are wearing white and twirling about gushing (heh) about how wonderful it is to be a woman. Commercials clearly made by men who have never had human contact with any female during her special time of the month.

Generally I'm pretty quick with the remote to mute any commercial madness. I'll happily sit through the annoying sounds of kids programs and cartoon soundtracks but for those three-minute commercial breaks I am a volume control ninja. Silence is golden. My children are trained to automatically mute the television whenever a commercial pops up. However, this particular night the remote was hidden in one of the cracks of our monstrously obese couch and none of us could locate the darn thing quick enough to silence the sounds of capitalistic commercialism oozing out the television speakers.

My son stared transfixed at the screen while my daughter Fric ripped through the cushions to muffle the shame of feminine hygiene being crammed down our throats. Just as the commercial ended she found the remote and pressed the mute button.

It was too late. My 13-year-old son saw it all.

And for the first time in his young life, he had questions. A culmination of school bus enlightenment combined with a few sex education classes caused the little gears in his man-child brain to turn and he needed help fitting the jigsaw pieces together.

"Mom. Does menstruation mean what I think it means?"

I looked at him, then at my daughter who was suddenly very busy studying the remote control and I sighed. It had come to this. The moment I had for so long tried to avoid with him. I've had the female reproduction talk at great length but only ever with my daughter because apparently discussing female gender issues in front of her younger brother would have caused her to die of mortification and fall into a black hole of doom.

Frac has thus remained largely uneducated in the ways of flower power so to speak.

"Well kid, it depends on what you think it means. If you think menstruation is the shedding of the lining of  blood and tissues that have built up through out the month inside a woman's uterus as she prepares for fertilization and which exits via a woman's vagina, then you'd be correct." Because the best way to talk about embarrassingly female personal body functions with a teenaged boy is to always use scientific terms and hope that his vocabulary isn't equipped to understand what in hell's name you are talking about.

Parenting for the win!

Right about here my daughter groaned and then fled for sanctuary in her bedroom. She must have caught sight of that giant black hole of doom. Via the vagina.

My son, to his credit, didn't even flinch.

"So you bleed. Down there." He said as he pointed to his crotch.

"Well I do, as do most women between puberty and menopause but if you start bleeding from down there," I pointed to his groin area, "you have bigger problems."

Frac rolled his eyes, which he often does to demonstrate just how uncool he thinks I am, and shook his head. "I know that Mom." Like, duh.

"So then, what's a tampon?"

Well son, right now a tampon is the bane of my f@cking existence. Thank you very much.

"It's a product designed to absorb the blood flow."  Where the hell is this kid's father?? Oh right. He's working. Earning money to keep me in a lifetime supply of boxed cotton. Dammit.

"But how does it work?" he persisted.

Are you kidding me? Seriously? I look up from my knitting to see if he's dicking with me but no, my kid was earnest. Dammit.

"Well, um, it's inserted up a woman's um, you know." I motion to my groin area. VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA the little voice screamed inside my head. Sometimes I could smack that little voice.

My underarms were getting decidedly moist right then.

"Does it hurt?" Aw, my sweet boy. Shut UP!!

"No, not really. I mean, it's not like you are getting tickled or anything but it shouldn't hurt."


"Um, gravity?" My knitting is suddenly very interesting and I'm having a hard time taking my eyes off the yarn. I admit, I'm scared to make eye contact with the boy because my daughter's black hole of doom is threatening to devour me if I look at my son.

"But don't babies come out of the, you know, your vagina," he whispered the word. "You had, like, three babies. Big babies. How does something so small stay where it is supposed to?"

By George, I do believe my son just asked me if my vagina suffered from hotdog tossed into a hallway syndrome.


This time, I looked up at Frac so fast I almost got whiplash.

"Um kid, the vagina is ELASTIC. It stretches for childbirth but it doesn't stay stretched out. It's not some gaping maw threatening to swallow everything whole that comes into its orbit. And for the record, nine pound babies aren't THAT big."

Translated: My wind tunnel is just fine thank you very much.

Frac looked at me for a second, trying to decide just how crazy I was and if  my information was at all accurate and then he nodded, apparently satisfied I'm no crazier than normal and all was well.

"Any more questions kid? Now's the time. Speak now or forever hold your piece. Or you know, wait till your father gets home." (That's called passing the buck and it's a useful tool all parents should have in their arsenals.)

"Um, well, how does it come out? Does it ever get stuck up there?"

Since the poor child already thinks I have a cooter of epic proportions I decided not to make any jokes and tell him tampons just magically fall out. Nor did I explain that every once in a while you hear of a girl whose tampon has crawled up to her freaking eyeballs and she had to do unseemly things to dig it out. Not that it's ever happened to me. Scouts honor.

"Nope. Never gets stuck. And there is a string attached so you just yank on it and then dispose of it. Very simple. Very clean. Not GROSS AT ALL." (Bold face lying. Another useful tool in a parent's arsenal.)

"Cool," he replied, satisfied the mystery had been solved and turned back to focus on the over-produced Hollywood crap he was previously immersed in. Thank goodness.

I sat in silence for a moment, temporarily frozen by what had just transpired and ran the conversation over in my head. Satisfied I hadn't completely mucked up his knowledge of basic female biology I looked at Jumby and said a silent prayer of thanks for all children who can't speak, everywhere.

Just when I was feeling really grateful he didn't ask me how my Diva Cup worked, another set of commercials started.

Cue the flowery music and women wearing white. Good times. This time it was a Monistat commercial. It's like the Gods of Television were out to get me.

"Hey Mom, what's that for?" my son once again asked.

I looked at him, looked at the television and I made a choice. I shrugged.

"I don't know kid. Never heard of it in my life. You should ask your father. I'm sure he'll know."

I don't even feel guilty about lying. There are lines every parent will not cross. Mine happens to be drawn right at beaver fever.

Heck, it's a slippery slope from crotch rot to vajazzling and I'm just not willing to tumble down that hill just yet.