what is it with the tampons?

You bet your ass I have something to say about your post on beauty, Katie. I have so much to say that my response has already been divided into two parts. HOWEVER. I don’t trust myself to post about anything too emotionally driven right now (and this topic is), as I am fighting a tough battle with depression. I think I might be winning this one, for once, but I still feel self-conscious about my reactions and opinions when the depression-cloud lingers in my mind. I guess I don’t trust myself right now. Sometimes, that’s gotta be OK.

So, I hope to articulate and post my responses soon, but today is not the day. Today is Friday and a good day for some fun. A few things inspired this post. First, the tampons scattered all over my bedroom floor. I usually have my box of tampons hidden away in a bathroom cabinet (Martha Stewart says, “store things where you use them!”) not because I’m embarrassed for anyone to know I’m a woman who has a regular period, but because if I don’t, this is what happens:


see, we have these raccoons...

Now, I’m not sure what the deal is, but all of my children go through this toddler phase where they love nothing more than to play with an opened box of bright, variety-size tampons.  And, since we’ve moved and things are not yet totally put away, this box of tampons has been making its way all over the house. The reasonable thing to do would be to place the box out of sight and/or reach, like I do when I’m settled into a place, but we all know now that I’m not always reasonable. Chris has finally dealt with it his way, and kicked the mess under the bed. Smart move on his part, because one awkward, waddling trip from the toilet to the bed with my undies around my ankles, and I put away the tampons and decided it’s time to organize the bathroom.

Anyway, the other inspiration was your post on the grocery store trip, Katie. What is it about the grocery store that’s so conducive to every parent’s Most Embarrassing Moments? Parents could probably write a series of books recounting nightmare grocery store trips. I’ve been thinking about it and I think what it is (for me) is this: when Chris gets dressed in business-casual in the morning and leaves to go to an office for his paying job, in the world of adults, I stay at home to do my job (that pays in other ways besides, um, money) in the world of children and babies. In this world, there are few rules and the schedule is pretty loosey-goosey. We wear what we want. We eat whenever we want. We do whatever we want. There are days I go for eight hours without talking to anyone other than a 2-year-old, a person who, on her good days, is like a cross between a puppy and a mental patient. So when it’s time to go to the grocery store, in the land of adults who are clothed in clothes and have rational thought process and manners and self-awareness, I am really out to impress. Going to the grocery store in this culture is a Big Deal to someone who is living on Mama Island. It says: Look! I am a grown-up! I have things to buy, money to spend! I am legit. I complete whole sentences and adhere to the same social codes as all of you!

But when you bring along a 2-year-old and/or her two 7-year-old brothers, all bets are off. I should know by now not to set out in the world hoping to hold on to silly things like pride and dignity. It seems like anytime I hope to gain an autonomous sense of self, my children sniff out my desire and get scared they’re losing me and do everything in their power to show the world (and me): SHE’S MINE.

Or, maybe they are just kids being kids. I think this is probably more likely.

So, here are my Top Three Most Embarrassing Grocery Store Moments*:

  1. The Tampon.  Ladies, you know that emergency tampon you try to keep in your purse only, because it’s for emergencies, you never use it and the wrapper gets marked on by stray pens and lip liner and eventually rips and the tampon slips out and ends up under everything, worming its way into the hole in the corner of the lining and then you forget it’s there? Well, one time I was checking out at the grocery store and the cashier smiled at Sola, with the look that she was going complement my baby, but then furrowed her brow and pursed her lips and didn’t say anything. I took a look myself. Sola was sitting in the cart chair, happily gnawing away on something, all gums and slobber. She was teething. She had found the emergency tampon.
  2. The Paper Towels. Sola was (and still is) easy. The cosmos knew anything more difficult would break me after the twins’ first two years. She was only a few weeks old, very quiet, and I was still getting used to taking three kids out. We went to Target for the same reasons you always see mothers with young children at Target, and I put her, sleeping in the car-seat, in the shopping cart. The boys and I began by placing things around her car-seat gently. The box of wipes had to go under the cart. Soon, we got to the paper towels. The pack was so big, it would rest perpendicularly across the length of the cart, with Sola underneath. We went on our way. We kept putting things in the cart. I walked around wasting time, because it felt so good to be in an organized, clean, adult-filled environment. Eventually, I heard a whimper. Then some mewing. It sounded like there was a litter of kittens nearby. I can’t remember how long it took until one of the boys said, “Mom! Remember the baby! She’s still in the cart!” Alas, I pawed through the cans and boxes, lifted the pack of paper towels and, indeed, the newborn baby I forgot I had was awake.
  3. The Tomatoes and Corn Mush. My first trip ever to a Whole Foods was not good. It was especially bumming because I had heard about Whole Foods in Kansas and couldn’t believe that moving to California meant I would be within a few miles from TWO of them. In my quest to educate the boys about food, I took them back to the butcher. They saw a pig and I explained. I went to get bacon for my clam chowder recipe and Taj decided right there that he was going to be vegetarian. He would not eat the chowder, he said, if I put bacon in it. Luke wanted bacon in the chowder. They argued. It escalated. It ended with Taj crying as Luke yelled, “BUT BACON TASTE GOOOOOD!” By the time we got to the checkout they had calmed down enough to do their favorite job: placing things from the cart onto the conveyor belt. I stood at the counter, ready to swipe my card, when I noticed the grape tomatoes were traveling up the belt, one-by-one, with a nibble taken out of each. By the time the grocer shrieked in disgust after sticking her hand what corn-on-the-cob turns into if you leave it in your reusable grocery bags in the back of your car for two months while you move across the county, I had sort of stopped being human long enough to get us and our stinky groceries to the car, where I made it as far as the first stoplight before getting rear-ended by a Subaru. This was our first month in Palo Alto. (If you haven’t seen this spoof on the Whole Foods Parking Lot, check it out now. This is me they’re making fun of.)

*All of these occurred after I had my third child. This is either because the more children you have, the more they are able to join forces in their quest to rule your world or because I remember little from the first two years after having twins, including the few times I actually took two babies into a grocery store by myself.

What is your worst grocery store tale? (kids or not…)

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21 thoughts on “what is it with the tampons?

  1. I would actually pay more to shop at a grocery store that did not have candy sitting out at the checkout line. And while we’re at it, anything that had sugar, corn syrup, “evaporated cane juice” (come on people, you’re not fooling anybody), food coloring – especially blue food coloring, sitting out anywhere in the store under three feet. Or four. Or at all.

  2. Maria, this post is tooo funny. Funny!!!! There’s way too many “this-could-go-terribly-wrong” variables involved in a grocery store when bringing babies/toddlers with you! My worst one involves two toddlers jumping around and an entire shopping cart including a baby-in-carseat falling over on its side (who knew?). The carseat-with-baby-strapped-in literary went skidding sideways down the aisle. Baby and toddlers were totally fine and unscathed. Mother was not. I’m pretty sure I finished that trip by smushing whatever groceries I had onto the nearest shelf and walking out the door. (It wouldn’t be the first or last time I’d done that exit move with three very small humans in tow. I figure I make up for it by being extra nice to every single grocery store worker… forever.)
    - Ev

    • I recall a time you and I went shopping with another rowdy bunch, got overwhelmed, and left the groceries on a shelf and THIS WAS BEFORE WE HAD KIDS!!! I wonder if we are now getting what we deserve…

      I try to be very nice to grocery store workers, unless they are about to suggest it is my problem that candy, tinker toys, and chapstick are all on display at a two-year-old’s eye level. (see above comment.) :)

  3. My one and only child is 8 months old, so my embarassing grocery store moments are limited to various attempts at carseat/carrier/stroller/cart configurations that allow me to keep the baby safe and happy and still contain my groceries. However, I am SO happy to know that I’m not the only one whose “emergency tampon” meets these kinds of ends. I thought it was just me.

    • Ikea is onto something with how easy they make it to take your baby/toddler/child shopping. Family Parking! Stroller carts! Smaland! Meatballs!

      On another note, I saw an advertisement recently for tampons that are purposely bright and identifiable. It was supposed to be empowering that people a mile away would know what they were…

  4. I sometimes think these kinds of things only happen to me. Glad to know I’m in good company! I would totally leave corn in a reusable bag for 2 months and definitely stash all my groceries on a shelf to make a fast exit (I keep imaging that infant car seat sliding across the aisle, probably shouldn’t make me laugh as hard as it does, but I know the baby was unscathed so it’s fine to laugh, right?)

  5. Maria, I had such a good laugh when I read this! I thought it was just my toddlers who loved tampons; who knew they were so popular! I keep my emergency tampon(s) in the pocket of my knapsack. Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike with Ella in her bike seat and I’ll stop and turn around to find her “knawing” on one of my tampons. I’m at the point where I no longer shriek and grab it off her. If it keeps her happy… :) My worst grocery store experience? I’m not sure if there’s one that stands out. I guess there was the time that Noam jumped onto the side of the shopping cart in Safeway and pulled it over while Ella was sitting in it. These days I seem to have the only toddler who won’t sit in the shopping cart, but instead prefers to run through the grocery store pulling things off the shelf and putting them in the cart. Most of my trips with Ella involve me following her and doing damage control.

    • I think Ella jumped out of the cart AFTER you left this comment, b/c that could have made the list. Either that, or these events are totally normal now and you don’t give it a second thought. Damage control is key.

  6. Oh good lord. I will never be able to be a mother. Ever.

    But…at the risk of being “that” person, I do want to say that, though I do not have children, I can relate to the being-out-in-public thing being a trigger for misbehaving. Except it’s not with my children. It’s with my dog. He is normally a well-behaved, housebroken dog, but as soon as we go somewhere in public, he suddenly goes into diarrhea mode, and it’s in inconvenient places. Most dogs can take care of it on a strip of grass somewhere, right? Because, let’s face it, there aren’t many place you can take your dog inside, so one would think that this wouldn’t be a problem, right? Wrong.

    My dog has surprise-diarrhea’d me at the following places: 1) middle of a marathon course I was spectating the sidelines of; I was bent down with runners (at mile 8 or 9) hurdling me and dodging me as I used a plastic bag to pick up my dog’s excrement from the road; 2) middle of every aisle of every pet store we’ve ever been in; the dog is not allowed to accompany me to the pet store anymore; 3) front hall of any friends’ houses my dog has been to; we can have spent 20 minutes in our own yard before leaving home, and he will have even pooped and peed, but the minute we enter someone else’s home, he squats and gets down to business.

    This is possibly THE most embarrassing talent my dog possesses. Although his propensity to get into the bathroom trash and strew out used tampons comes in a close second.

  7. Pingback: it’s harder to cry when you’re running | [writing] between friends

  8. My grocery store experiences with my toddler son were a MARATHON!My hubby kept running after him through different aisles as he stared at the different items with amazement.He used to call me a number of times in the middle of huffing and puffing to wrap the shopping up with a big ‘PLEASEEEE!!!’ to end it.I was busy running a marathon of filling up my grocery trolley with things i desired, spread all over the grocery store, one thing in the first aisle, second in the last so on and so forth…..In the end, EVERYONE was huffing and puffing….PHEW!Thank God he has grown up now, it seemed as if we encountered a quake and were running fast to avoid it!HE WAS A HYPERACTIVE FOR SURE!
    On the other hand, my daughter, ripped apart my pride that i am amongst the mothers who have cultured,well-mannered kids.The more we avoided the toy rack the more she found it out at EVERY grocery store, putting down her demands, crying for the next 1 hour of shopping, with the whole store turning their heads around looking at us with horror which dug me deep into the pit of embarrassment.

      • :) Yeahi think you’re right,maybe we are becoming more of a disciplinarian as the kids are becoming more and more wild….But maybe we were also like that when we were little, everyone in grocery stores too.If a child behaves like a grownup, he will be one,not a child.Sometimes, we should let go of them to let them create such interesting moments to talk about and enjoy :)

  9. My little chihuahua has a knack for stealing pads and spewing the insides all over my carpet…not fun. How she gets them, I’ll never know, but I can’t help but admire her work when I find the carefully opened wrapper lying nearby!

  10. Pingback: the grocery-bag thing | [writing] between friends

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