My stepson and I were having a terse discussion about something that I can’t remember (this happened around fourteen years ago) and he said to me, “You’re in a bad mood, it must be that time of the month”. I didn’t care for his comment and it occurred to me he probably would feel differently if he experienced “that time of the month”. An idea began to form.
He was about eleven years old at the time. It just so happened that he and my son were being taught the “Growing and Changing” unit in school. (The boys are a month apart in age and were in the same grade.). Their teacher was going to cover the basic biology of menstruation. I saw an opportunity to offer additional information they probably wouldn’t learn in class.
I showed them a sanitary napkin (pad) and tampon. They made noises and said, “Yuck, Gross”. I let them know we would be talking about some of the things that women have to deal with when it’s “that time of the month”. My next step was to peel the adhesive from the back of the pad and attach it to a kitchen towel. Then I opened the tampon and placed it upside down in a glass of water. They immediately noticed how the shape changed from the tampon expanding. I told them to imagine what it would feel like to walk around with a tampon inside their body.
Naturally, they had questions. I answered honestly, while being as general as possible to protect my privacy. What followed was a very long conversation about a range of topics from women’s periods to the proper way to wear a condom. I’m glad my husband was there to help me endure and maintain my composure.
When we were done talking, my stepson said, “I think I’m starting to understand why I shouldn’t make jokes about that time of the month”. I let him know I would appreciate it if he didn’t make those jokes and told him I’m sure other females would too. Although my sons wouldn’t have the experiences themselves, I wanted them to be aware of what the women in their lives go through.