Why My Teenage Sons Carry a Tampon and Pad in Their Backpacks

I first started talking about this with them last year, after reading an article about a man on the Appalachian Trail who gave a tampon from his backpack to a woman who had bled through. He reportedly said something like, ‘It’s no big deal; I grew up with a mom and sisters … ‘ and that rocked my world.

As I was driving in my car one day, I looked at my boys in the rearview mirror and nonchalantly told them that they should probably put a tampon in their backpacks in case any of their friends had an emergency. They seemed to think it over and didn’t say much, because teenagers.

Courtesy of Tara Ahrens

But at the end of the last school year, they saw firsthand what I’d been talking about when one of Elijah’s friends had a bleed-through.

All of her friends had tampons, but this student is only allowed to use pads. Elijah speculated that it might be because of her religious beliefs, and after that day, took it upon himself to make sure that he and Micah had pads in their backpacks, just in case.

Like many public high schools, ours does not offer or sell period products. And with the student population being 60 percent female, you can see how that can present a problem.

According to one 2019 US study, 92 percent of high school students reported needing period products while at school, but only 42 percent of schools offer them (and most of those cost money).

This year, Micah let all his close female friends know that he always keeps a sweatshirt in his locker and a tampon in his backpack.

(‘You know, in case you have an emergency,’ he told them. ‘My mom wanted you to be covered.’)

Courtesy of Tara Ahrens

He said that the girls seemed a little embarrassed for a minute, but ultimately accepted it.

Elijah, on the other hand, told everyone, all of his friends, both male and female.

He told me that although a few boys mocked him, most were like, ‘cool, dude.’ He said his female friends were much more receptive, even telling him he should keep some products in his car as well.

Tara Ahrens
Tara Ahrenshttps://www.facebook.com/theahrens
Tara Ahrens, from Fort Wayne, IN is a “regular ol’ mom” of 4 spirited, messy, hilarious children. The boys are 16 and 15, the girls are 10.5 (because that 1/2 year matters, Mom) and 6. This is her first time in 17 years that she has not had a little human at home, bossing her around all day, as the little one is off to Kindergarten. She has been married to a boy she met in 3rd grade for 17.5 years. They are a foster family for For the Love of a Boxer boxer rescue. They enjoy squishing everyone into small vehicles and driving across the county to camp and explore our National Parks. Now that she finally has some time to herself, Tara enjoys cottage gardening, restoring their old home, and reading books, wearing a pile of cats (4, rescues). She is passionate about raising kids who are people of principle but more importantly, people of change. See more from Tara on her blog.

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