Red in the Toilet

22 Jul

This morning, RJ approached me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to alarm you, but lately I’ve been seeing lots of toilet paper in the toilet and some of that toilet paper is red.”

Whoops. Forgot to flush. Again.

How old were you when you first discovered the wonderful world of menses?

My mom explained all the mechanics of menstruation to me when I was about ten years old (maybe a little younger) and then gave me a book about it. I knew about it but it wasn’t very real because I’d never actually seen it or experienced it before. The commercials on tv where blue liquid drips on the pads meant nothing to me.

One summer, out camping, my mom and I were in the public restroom brushing our teeth and going pee. We were getting ready to leave and I approached my mom as she was exiting a stall. I caught a glimpse of red in the toilet before she flushed and exclaimed, “Mom, why is the toilet all red?” She was like, “Leah!!” and only then did I clue in: Oohhhhh, this is the period blood she told me about! I immediately felt embarrassed that I didn’t wait to ask my mom until we were out of earshot from the other women in the bathroom.

Obviously none of those bathroom ladies would’ve been shocked about period blood, but many ladies don’t like advertising their time of the month. I don’t feel embarrassed about it anymore though; now I just feel sorry that my mom had to endure a family camping trip while bleeding and cramping. If it had been me (and it was in later years), I would have been miserable.

As I said, I was about ten years old when that all went down. Is there a correct age to talk about this stuff with your children?

It probably depends on the child.

Shortly after JP was born, RJ wanted to know everything about reproduction. He wanted to know all about girl parts and boy parts and how the baby grew and how the baby got out. He wanted to hear his own birth story over and over; his favourite part was when the doctor put him on my chest and he was completely covered in ewie gooey slimy stuff.

Interestingly enough, he’s never asked how the baby actually gets into the uterus in the first place. He probably will soon enough.

Now that he’s seen the tell-tale red toilet paper, I figured there was no reason to make up stories about what it really is. He knows the correct terms for everything so I gave him a little explanation about a period:

“Many ladies have a uterus and that is the place where a baby grows. A baby isn’t always there but the uterus is often getting ready to hold and nurture a baby. It gets itself ready by building up a supply of blood which would be a good environment for a growing baby. But once the blood supply gets too big and there’s no baby cells around, the blood has to leave and the supply starts building up all over again. The blood leaves through the same hole that a baby would come out of and it usually can be seen clearly in the toilet. This happens to most women and it’s totally normal. Do you understand?”

RJ said, “sounds like an interesting procedure, mom!” Then he continued playing his super hero game.

If JP told me the toilet was red, I wouldn’t give him the same explanation. I might say something like, “mommy just had an owie” but realistically, JP probably wouldn’t even notice different coloured toilet water. He is a different kid than RJ and isn’t able to understand the same kinds of things RJ is.

The things I told RJ at age three, I wouldn’t tell JP now because he wouldn’t get it. RJ knew about Fallopian tubes at age three whereas River is just beginning to grasp the concept that babies grow in tummies. He was quite sure my friend Tara was hiding her baby under her shirt, but really it was under her shirt, under her skin, and in her uterus! You have to know what kind of information your child is ready for.

What have you told your kids about babies and periods? Every little detail or a more sanitized version?

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