Has your son ever asked you about periods?” asked the Mother’s friend Larissa one day, completely out of the blue.
“Oh, God, yeah, he’s asked me about 100 times, ‘Mum, what are those cotton wool things in the bathroom for?’ replied the Mother mimicking her son.
“Actually,” she continued after giving the question some thought, “he seems to ask me on a monthly basis, which is kind of ironic.”
Larissa laughed. “And what have you told him?”
“Nothing, Jesus, it’s bad enough having periods without having to explain them to a prepubescent boy.”
“But don’t you think you should?” Larissa continued.
“Yeah, probably,” replied the Mother. “Yes, I probably should.”
His father had already had the “talk” with their son just a few weeks earlier, and it seemed only logical that the two should go hand in hand. They did kind of complement each other – I mean where would sperm be without ovulation?
For this little ‘man to man’ chat, Dad had taken Aaron to a gallery. It wasn’t usual for Jason to take one of his offspring to an art gallery on occasions like this. Death of a hamster, Hieronymus Bosch exhibition. Need a break from the inner city then it’s Constable. Massive hangover and can’t face the kids? Get up and fuck off to the National Gallery before mum wakes up, So it went without saying talking to your children about the
Birds and the Bees.
The Bees and the bees
The birds and the birds
The bee, and other bee and a bird
Just a bee
Just a bird
The bee and the internet,
Oh Christ the list is endless! So you can see why it required a trip to the Tate Modern, can’t you?
“I walked in and purely by chance there was an exhibition on called Nudity, Erotica, and Pleasure, so the chat turned out to be surprisingly easy,” said Jason smugly.
“He already knew about the reproduction stuff from science, so I didn’t need to say much. I mean, he just worked it all out from all the paintings and stuff.” And by stuff, he meant a three-metre-high model of a vagina, as well as several life-like sculptures of the penis and/or testicles.
“You lucky sod,” said the Mother, “you got off lightly. A whole art exhibition on sex and the human form – how am I going to compete with that?”
“Well,” said Jason, “there’s props you can use, aren’t there? I mean, when you’re talking to… about you know…” Christ, he couldn’t even say it. He’d witnessed her bear two children and he still couldn’t say the word.
“Periods, menstruation, time of the month, ovulation.”
“Yeah, alright, alright, that will do,” said Jason, beginning to show signs of embarrassment.
She didn’t really want to stop, she was enjoying herself.
“Anyway, as I was saying, there’s props you can use.”
“Props?” said the Mother. She knew what he meant, but she wanted to string it out.
“Yes, sanitary towels and, you know, the other… cotton wool things.” He gestured using an upward-pointing finger. “And that belt thing.”
“The belt? Jesus, who taught you about menstruation, Jason, the bloody nuns?! And the other things, they are called tampons. It’s not the 1980s, you are allowed to say the word!”
“Perhaps Jason also needs to have ‘the talk’,” thought the Mother.
So a couple of weeks later, when Aaron asked yet again about the mysterious objects in the bathroom (not the Vileda mop or the broom, although the purpose of both seemed to so far have eluded him), the Mother realised she could put this moment off no longer.
“Do you really want to know what they are?” asked the Mother, although it sounded more like a threat than a question.
There was a pause, a moment of uncertainty, a chance to save himself….