Phone rings, ” OMG Bethany Lucy has lice!”Panic ensues. Your head starts to itch. You frantically review last week’s schedule. When did you see Lucy last. Then you ever so slowly walk down the hall to present this news to your family. You tell them all “It’s time” and make them sit in a chair as you calmly yet manically search their head to find…a bug! Damn it! You contemplate going down to Lucy’s house and wrapping the entire thing with police tape that says “DO NOT CROSS!” Then you realize you’ll have to do the same to your house. Let me tell you lice is no picnic. If you have had a cat comb ripped through your raw scalp for two weeks getting nits out it IS NOT FUN. My head itches now just thinking about it. I briefly think about the garbage bag I will take the next time I go to the movies. I am putting that sucker right over the entire seat. But lets face it, if you have an elementary school kid, and you have made it through unscathed by lice you have won the lottery. It’s life!
Phone rings “OMG Bethany Johnny has pin worms!” Oh crap. We all went to the same farm. We are doomed. Do we wait? Do we call the doctor? Do we put tape on the butt of the kid like Johnny’s mom said to do because they only come out at night? WORMS! NO way. My kid will not get worms. We mustn’t talk about this. NO one needs to know there is even a possibility of a worm in this house or we will have a “Contaminated” sign surely across every window. Listen, if you have had a child who has dug through the dirt at a farm, they may get worms. It is not the end of the world. You give them a pill, wash the sheets, and move on.
Periods. If you have a daughter. If you are a woman and have a uterus and ovaries and no unforeseen complications, then you have had a period. You have started your period at the WORST time possible and created a pad out of who knows what because you’ve had none. I once started while in the grocery store parking lot, panicked, when in hindsight I could have just gone right back in and bought pads. But instead I searched the trunk, found a towel and ripped up a towel. I already had blood on the seat of my pants so If I went back in someone would have seen. Oh horror. Blood on the pants. Judgment by strangers for the rest of my life. So I ripped up a towel and tried, in the parking lot,to stuff it down into my pants for the car ride home. No one would have thought twice if I had had a paper cut and got blood on my finger, and walked back in the store for a bandaid. But NOT THE PADS. But, in reality, even on a good day, who wants to go in search of THE ELUSIVE PAD. For heaven’s sake they have created an entire ISLE for just pads. Extra long, extra absorbent, wings, no wings, thong (which I must interject If I have blood dripping out of me, the last thing I want is a piece of underwear up my butt in the process but to each their own). Why all the stinkin pads? I know my pad. But what happens when I am stricken with the flu and start my period and have to send my poor husband. He stands there for a good 30 minutes trying to find the “pads in the purple box that have the green pad showing through the clear window of the box, unscented, extra long, for nighttime use.” WHYYYY. It’s a period, we bleed! It is part of the woman experience and in some cultures it is considered dirty, in others considered empowering. Whatever, We bleed from our vaginas because we are women who will perhaps, one day, have a child. Which leads me to my next subject.
Hemorrhoid . If you have had a child, you most likely have had a hemorrhoid at some point. Pushing a baby through a birth canal for hours and hours creates your butt to turn inside out. It happens. Going to the doctor and getting it diagnosed is the least of your worries although it is no fun having a doctor spread your buttcheeks and take a look down there. But if you have had a speculum in your vagina for a pap smear then really it less invasive, just a different area. The dreaded hemorrhoid. You hope it goes away. If you know what it is as you’ve had countless before, you go through the motions, sit in epson salt, use all the little wipes. But the nightmare of the hemorrhoid is not one I would wish on anyone. The agony, the pain, if it gets a blood clot, or prolapsed, or there is more than one. Excruciating. You can barely walk, sit, get comfortable. I can spot a hemorrhoid walker anywhere….yep, he’s got one….ah poor girl…I know she’s got one. After you try to no avail to get past the bulge you know you’ve go to go to the store. You walk into the closest CVS. You look around. Is there anyone who may see your hemorrhoid cream. No, it’s clear. You put a few extra items in the basket to try and hide the cream just in case. No one can know you have this foreign object hanging out of your butt. So you find the preparation h. YES! NO!! They make 20 different kinds. Which one, which one, I don’t care at this point, I will buy all of them. I cover them with my other random items but as I get to the check out counter and put it on the rolling thingy that pushes your groceries to the checkout girl, it seems to stand out alone. The hemorrhoid cream. All of this happens in your pre-I could die from this state. If you have hit the =I MAY die from this pain of this foreign thing that looks like my intestines have fallen out- then you don’t care. You go straight to the pharmacist and say in a low growl “give me the butt cream now!” I’m feeling your pain. Trust me.
The fingernail fungus, pink eye, are a few others. I will step out of the human experience and mention my dog who had mange. You may as well have stamped my forehead with “take 4 steps back, run away, run away.” As soon as my little Jess got mange from some rabid fox, the news spread. Neighbors would change directions when they saw me. UNTIL, all their dogs got mange too and NOT from my sweet Jess but because life happens and that mangy fox got in all of their yards.
All of these topics are a huge no-no. I haven’t even broached the subject of peeing on the toilet in your dream. #1 always ignore the toilet in your dream. #2 if you pee in the toilet in your dream, just be prepared to wake up with the urine already coming out because it WILL happen. Things happen. Our bodies are not to be ashamed of. We are hiding our period stained jean shorts, our hemorrhoid cream, and why? Picking up the lice comb (the cat comb works best btw) or the pink eye medication, we are mortified. WHY? We don’t want someone, anyone, people we don’t even know, to know what? That we are human. That our bodies are experiencing the human experience?
I can tell you this: If a 44 year old woman is embarrassed to tell you that she is going through menopause, her hair is thinning, she has 2 prickly hairs on her chin now, she peed her bed last night on the imaginary toilet, then she WILL NOT TELL YOU SHE IS BEING ABUSED. She WILL NOT TELL YOU SHE WAS MOLESTED AS A CHILD. And she may not even get help for her child who is being molested either.
I understand etiquette. Farting in public is just not acceptable. Even though it really should be. We can’t help that gas built up because of lunch! It seems ok to tell someone to put their elbows off the table, say excuse me when they burp, and put a napkin in their lap, but where is the opportunity for REAL LIFE? When does a kid get to slip in ” Uncle Bob touched me!” When? It also seems perfectly acceptable for a man to whistle at a pretty woman, or comment in a vulgar way to a jogging lady on the sidewalk but WE cannot discuss our period????
Lice goes around, worms happen, toenail fungus, pink eye, periods, rectal issues, happen. At what point was it decided that ILLNESSES and/or NORMAL BODILY FUNCTION was off the table? If we teach our children by modeling silence for something pretty much everyone will experience at least once in their life, then where is the door to be opened to their pain? When do we teach our children that we are not ONLY not ashamed of anything that may happen to their health but we most DEFINITELY are not ashamed by what someone else does to them.
Lets stop walking around like having a period stain is the end of the world, and buying butt cream is something that is mortifying. All those conversations do is teach our children that they have a need to feel shame, fear, and silence. They need to know that no conversation is off the table and that there will always be an accepting ear to hear EVERYTHING. No shame involved. Next time you walk your daughter down the pad isle. Do it with pride. I am proud to be a woman and embrace all that comes with it. My daughter should see that and so should everyone else’s.