McKinley holds up the wrapped tampon to his curious gaze, as he begins to tear at the wrapper.
“What’s this, Mom? A band-aid? Do you shove it up your nose?” His voice is a fountain of giggles.
“Nope. It’s not that,” I answer, hoping he’ll move on to other things, as I nimbly take it out of his fingers and slip it out of sight. Renee has helped, providing some silliness to distract the curious monkey.
That was two nights ago. Tonight he’s discovered it again, in it’s little hiding place between a book and the wall where I had slipped it and forgotten it.
“What IS this, Mom?” Now he really wants to know.
It’s late. Renee is already in bed. He is supposed to be in bed, but is lingering about as I clean up my room.
“Can I tell you when you’re older?” I ask. A stupid question, because of course he’s going to say no, but at least it sort of sets the stage for his first real sex talk. We’ve certainly talked about how babies are born, seen pictures in pregnancy books, and he’s also greedily looked at the book, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” which is filled with drawings of all kinds of bodies, and the insides of bodies, and erections and vaginas. He’s seen all sorts of animals mating, and knows why they do it. So I can do this. I can do this.
“No, Mom, I want to know what it is!”
“Well, it’s called a tampon, and it goes up in a vagina, kind of like a band-aid. You see, every month a woman builds a nest inside her belly for a baby. And if she doesn’t get pregnant, then her body just lets the nest go, and it’s kind of like blood, and it comes out her vagina.”
McKinley laughs a little, a natural laugh, because this is where he came from, a little bird in the nest of my belly, and it makes perfect sense. And then he says, emphatically, “Mom, you need to get pregnant again!”
Now it’s my turn to laugh, and I do. “No, no, no, I’ve had my babies, and I know this in my mind. But every month my belly makes a nest anyway, you see, and every month my body lets the nest go, because I’ve not gotten pregnant!”
He holds the tampon in his hand. “Yeah. OK. So the tampon catches the blood stuff, like a sponge!”
“OK.” Then he runs under that bathroom sink and hollers in his boy way, “There’s the rest of them!”
“Yep. There they are. Now go to bed.”
And he did. It was really rather simple, and I don’t know how I did it, because I’d no preconceived idea of how to explain the menstrual workings of a woman’s body to my seven-year-old son. But now he knows that a tampon does not go up your nose.