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I Told My Son About Periods in a Target Bathroom

It was just me and my boys at Target on a busy Saturday afternoon when my youngest needed to pee.

Perhaps if I were a less paranoid mother I’d leave Boy Wonder to fend for himself outside the restroom amidst the frenzy of red shopping carts, but I’m not. “But I’m 9!” he protests as he accompanies us into the women’s restroom.

As I hurry my pee-pee dancing 4-year-old into a stall, Boy Wonder stands off to the side trying to avert his nervous prepubescent eyes from the female patrons surprised to see them there. He fidgets and asks us to hurry. As the last woman dries her hands and leaves the restroom, I emerge from the bathroom stall to find Boy Wonder digging in the tampon machine for a stuck quarter. God, this kid loves money.

He’s turning the knob and digging for that shiny quarter with everything he’s got when he asks, “What’s this machine for?” Shit. Lie or truth? Lie or truth? Dammit woman, focus!

“It’s for tampons,” I coolly mention hoping he’ll drop it. “What’s a tampon?” he obviously asks. Yep, this is actually happening. Today. In Target. Good luck sister, you suck as this stuff.

With all the nonchalance I could muster, I mention it’s a product women use for their period (like he knows what that is). “Wait, what did you call it? A ‘period’?” he asks, complete with confused scrunched up face. “Yes, a period, but not the kind that you use in a sentence. A period is when a woman bleeds a little (yeah right) every month. It means they can have babies. OK, now help me get a cart.” You’re doing great, Lori. I think he’s satisfied. 

He pauses. Look Kid, drop it. This doesn’t involve you. Please don’t ask -

Where does she bleed from?” he asks, afraid to know. You are trying to kill me. In Target. On a Saturday.

I sigh, lean close and uncover the great reveal, “Her vagina. She bleeds from her vagina.” I walk ahead as if I’d just told him apples grow on trees. It’s a vagina. He was going to have to learn someday; I just wish it didn’t have to be today. I look back to find him standing in the very same spot. He’s frozen. Shit, he’s got the period fear. I’ve seen this look before on my husband. Damn period fear.

I track back. “Girls bleed from their [whispers] vagina? Like all the time?” he asks partly out of concern, but mostly out of disgust.

“No, once a month for a couple days. Let’s go,” I mention. “Even you, Mom?” he asks with eyes as wide as saucers. “Yes, even me. It’s fine, Honey. It’s normal. That’s why there are machines in the bathroom for when a woman is on her period.”

“But Mom! The quarter is still stuck! What if some lady needs the machine!” Look at you, Lori. Raising a young man worried about a menstrual woman needing a tampon. Go you! I hurry him along to the feminine product aisle, a place he’s been 10 million times before – only this time he’s wiser. “Look, any lady needing a tampon can come here and get everything she could ever possibly need; there are tampons by the dozen!” I quip as I proudly display a box of Tampax Pearl Plastic tampons. He looks at me, gives the products on the shelves the side eye, tells me the aisle is grossing him out and then leaves.

I guess this means Boy Wonder started his period. Sniff, he’s a man now.

Have you had to explain periods to your kids yet?

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