I’m a pretty realistic girl. Although I don’t go out of my way to bring up topics that might make others uncomfortable (except for this post, heh heh), not much can make me blush. I don’t use cutesy names for body parts and my kids don’t think the stork delivers babies. Having said that, I’ve been very careful in which words I do use to accurately yet discretely answer my boys’ questions. (I say “I” because I seem to be the go-to for life’s biggest questions in our home.) So why am I so careful? Because they’re loudmouths! Well, the little one anyway. He is a walking, talking encyclopedia. He is Siri. He is Google. He is Echo. I absolutely know he will go to preschool and educate the entire class. “Did you know daddy duckbill platypuses have stingers that they use to protect themselves from predators? Did you also know that whales have the biggest testicles of any other animal in the whole world?” I don’t want other parents getting pissed at me and my 4-yr-old for teaching their kids the intricacies of biology and human anatomy, but I don’t want to squelch his desire for information. So whenever possible, I try to tone it down a bit. For instance, he knows baby’s are born through the “birth canal.” But sometimes the best answer is a direct one. He does know boys have penises, girls have breasts (also sometimes called “chests”), and everything poops through its anus, even alligators like the one on his bathmat.
Am I making you uncomfortable? Well, just wait.
I usually go grocery shopping by myself, but I brought said 4-yr-old with me last weekend while my husband took our oldest to ball practice. Toward the end of the trip, we made a stop in the feminine hygiene isle. Girls, have you noticed how pretty the Tampax packaging has become in recent years? Well, I’m gonna tell ya… to a 4-yr-old, they look like brightly colored boxes of candy. The fact that we were in a grocery store substantiated his [mis]understanding.
So there we were. He was sitting innocently in the cart with his snack trap and sippy cup in his lap while I searched for a box with more than 12 tampons in it. (This is why I usually buy them at Target instead of the grocery store!) Anyway, there was another lady standing next to us, likely doing the same thing. Then he started in.
“Wow! What are THOSE?”
“Look at THOSE!”
“Hey, Mom! What are THOSE?” pointing wildly between bites of Kix.
Leaning forward over the cart handle to get a better look he asked, “Are they chewy?” To be honest, I had been evading his questions until this point, partially because I was focused on the party-themed boxes in front of me; partially because I didn’t want to have to explain what a tampon was to a 4-yr-old boy.” I should know by now that avoiding the question never works with him. I started chuckling at that point and delivered some brief answer. The woman in the isle with us unsuccessfully tried to stifle a hefty gaffah and said, “Boy, he’s a curious one, isn’t he!” (You have NO idea, lady.)
Before I could even answer the “chewy” question, he asked, “What do they taste like?” At that the woman totally lost it, grabbed a box off the shelf and literally ran out of the isle. She said something to me as she ran away, but I didn’t make out her words. I’m still really curious what she said. I think she was trying not to embarrass either of us by laughing, but by that point, I was losing it as well as he continued on with a litany of questions, really not even giving me a chance to respond. He was completely and utterly both impressed and overwhelmed by the boxes of tampons before him.
“Are they sticky? Are they fruity? What do we do with those?”
As I wheeled him out of the isle, I simply said, “These are not food, Baby. Only girls use them, and you’ll learn more when you get a little older. Hey, look! What flavors of yogurt should we get?”