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Tampon Trauma

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I did something completely natural, and now I'm worried that my child could be scarred (or should I say scared) for life. What did I do? I inserted a tampon in front of my son.

shocked little boy, mom in the background

Radical Mommy: This morning, I was taking a bath before work and my 4 1/2-year-old son sat next to the tub and played while we chatted. This is a completely normal scenario for us, as there is little to no modesty in our house.

When I got out of the bath, I dried off and noticed that my period had started (way too much info I know, but it's part of the story) so I dropped the towel and grabbed a tampon and started putting it in. It was only then, when I saw my little son's face staring at me quizzically from two feet away, that I suddenly realized, "Holy sh**, maybe he shouldn't be watching me do this."

Sure enough, sooner than I could shoo him away, he blurts out, "Mama, what are you putting in your penis?" (Don't be alarmed, my son definitely knows that girls have vaginas and BOYS have penises, but sometimes he gets confused.) Anyway, all I could think to say was, "I'm putting a tampon in my vagina. But don't worry about it. I'm fine."

I'm not sure if he had any other questions, because right after my dimwitted response, I apologized to him for doing that in front of him and said that I wouldn't do it again. He was so sweet and said, "It's okay, Mama, it's funny when you put things in your penis."

Is it, though? Was it alright to do that in front of my son? Will he be scarred for life? Will he remember it? PLEASE, PLEASE let me know what you think.

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36 comments so far | Post a comment now
anon February 2, 2009, 11:55 AM

Can someone say gross? Your son witnessed it and now I have to read about while sipping my coffee and eating my toast. Enough!

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 11:59 AM

Who knows if he’ll remember it. I suppose he will if you talk to him about it a lot. Just move on and don’t let it happen again. C’est la vie.

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 12:26 PM

Honestly, that is really inappropriate.

Rebecca February 2, 2009, 12:53 PM

I’m sure he probably won’t remember it and I doubt it will scar him for life. It’s not a big deal. I was raised in the same kind of environment. It won’t be a big deal unless you make it one.

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 1:38 PM

I would have said “Its ok honey, sometimes mommies have to this” and then redirect him to something else. He will forget about it in the next 20 minutes.

Beth February 2, 2009, 1:55 PM

If you don’t make a big deal out of it, I don’t think it will be a problem. If he asks just tell him that older girls sometimes have to do that.

Susan Payton February 2, 2009, 1:56 PM

If you don’t make a big deal about it, it will go away. If he sees you think it’s a big deal, it will be.

Uly February 2, 2009, 2:00 PM

I don’t see how it could possibly be harmful or damaging to your child to see you treating a normal part of life, well, normally.

Brian February 2, 2009, 2:05 PM

inappropriate but not life altering. I believe discretion is needed no different than with any other person - child, adult, stranger. Will most likely not remember the event unless this story keeps being retold…

Don’t bring it up again until first meeting his new fiance :-)

brandy February 2, 2009, 2:06 PM

While yes it is gross, Anon, it’s also something that could happen to anyone with young kids. Get over it.

As for your son, I think he will forget all about it and if he does happen to bring it up again then try to explain (so he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing) but keep it brief and kid friendly.

Danielle February 2, 2009, 2:09 PM

My friend’s son (age 5 at the time) found her pads once and asked “Mommy is this for your vagina?” she said yes and then moved on. He took some a few times to use as “vagina blankets” (as he called them) for his “female” toys when they went to sleep. She didn’t address it, correct it, or engage with the “vagina blanket” situation. A few days later he discovered something more interesting — a microscope set— and completely moved on.

Years later, he’s a normal kid who has normal interactions with other kids.

The Point— we sexualize pads, tampons, and underwear. It’s us adults who have a problem with it, not the kids.

Erin February 2, 2009, 2:48 PM

I am surprised at the responses here. Motherhood is all about surprises and how on earth are we supposed to learn everything but keeping it locked up inside us? Thanks for sharing this story! It made me laugh!

As for him remembering… he may, if you focus on it. I’m glad to hear you’re using the right terms for body parts, which i think can be more scarring lol

I don’t however think it will scar him for life. He may bring it up at a play date in the near future by accident… that may be more embarrassing :P But I wouldn’t fret too much, kids are just honest …. its best not to lie to them :) Kudo’s to you for sharing!

Ann February 2, 2009, 3:12 PM

This is a perfectly normal part of life. Most women would probably rather do without periods but that doesn’t mean we should be ashamed of them and keep the whole thing a secret.
My children both know about tampons, panty liners and periods. I think it’s healthy that we talk openly about things that they will encounter in later life.
It’s not as if periods are optional and my kids both unlock the bathroom door if they “need” me (their definition not mine) so I have zero privacy while they’re awake.

Sara Jane February 2, 2009, 3:17 PM

Ok, this was a weird one, but I am sure it has happened to more than one (who admits it!) mom. I agree with most here, respond with appropriate verbiage and move on. Do not dwell on or focus on it. You might want to consider making some changes in the family dynamics, close the door when you bathe or toilet! “Mommy needs quite time.”

Annie @ PhD in Parenting February 2, 2009, 3:31 PM

I don’t think it is a big deal at all.

Nicole (SAHM Ramblings) February 2, 2009, 3:45 PM

Although it’s not the best scenario, it’s done. When my girls saw me with one once, I said “It’s a mommy band-aid.” Then moved on. Since then, I’ve made sure I had my private time in the restroom when needed.

jlmeal February 2, 2009, 3:54 PM

Go wash youe eyes with soap and get a clue.

AmyAnne February 2, 2009, 4:12 PM

Hahahaaha!!! I almost lost my tea all over my computer just with the title!

I’ll be the second to admit I have done that too. My 5 y/o walked in on me CHANGING one. YUCK. But to make it worse she is a hyper-sensitive, catastrophic thinking kid. She was convinced I was dying, no matter how I explained it to her, and wouldn’t leave my side for a week.

She’s 9 now and except for the couple of facial ticks, she’s fine. LOL.

Barb February 2, 2009, 4:29 PM

This happens to me all the time, and I see nothing wrong with it. I was explaining it to my now-5-year-old when she was 4 (or maybe even 3?), and now she understands and it’s no big deal. If nothing else, I have a jump on explaining things when she’s older, and she sees me handling it as no big deal; it’s just part of life for women.

We’re the same as far as modesty goes. I’m not sure when we’ll feel the need to cover up, but right now with a 5-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy, we still see each other right out of the shower and we don’t feel embarrassed. I’m curious—when did you start covering up in front of your children? I honestly don’t remember with my parents.

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 4:48 PM

I agree, I think it’s a bigger deal for the adult than the kid. But when he encounters his girl friend in need of a tampon at least he will know where it goes and what it’s for. I found it was much more traumatic for my kids to see me bleeding down there. I remember once that happening and he thought I was hurt in my vagina and I had to explain that women sometimes bleed if they are not hurt but that this is a girl thing not a boy thing. He moved on. I think it takes a lot to scare a kid with basic life stuff. It’s how much we the parent or adult make it a big deal that screws them up.

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