Kids can go through so much artwork that parents sometimes need a flowchart to decide whether or not to discard them, but for one mom, her flow was exactly what made her son's recent family portrait one to keep for the ages.
At first glance, Julian's drawing of his mom is pretty typical. Though he might have added a few extra fingers, all the limbs are accounted for and everything seems rather proportional. But right where her vagina would be is an unmistakable red spot.
The mom, Penny Rohleder, thought the portrait was so hilarious that she shared it on Facebook, with the caption:
"Oh this is so funny. Julian drew a family portrait (forgot Mayanna and Arlyn) but I said to him, 'What's that red thing on me? 'He said, 'That's your period.' Bahahahhahahahahshahahaha."
Rohleder tells Mom.me that Julian, who is 5, and her daughter, who is a few years older, know about periods as it was a conversation born out of necessity.
"I had a pulmonary embolism and was put on blood-thinning medication, which makes any bleeding I have much more severe and urgent. That morning, when he drew the image, I was desperate to get to the toilet, but Julian was on it! So I had no choice but to hop into the shower (which is in the bathroom too) and he obviously saw blood," she says.
Pulmonary embolism occurs when a clump of material, often a blood clot, blocks an artery in the lungs. The risk for blood clots are higher after delivery, and moms can remain at risk for up to 12 weeks after giving birth.
Rohleder says she had previously explained to her kids that women get periods. After her youngest son's birth, she was similarly on blood thinners and bleeding heavily.
"Rather than let the kids freak out when there is such an urgency, they knew that I was OK, that it was normal for women to have periods," she says.
Her post was also shared by parenting blogger Constance Hall on Facebook, where it has received thousands of comments, many of which are from moms who can totally relate.
"I went and got a blood test when Mr. 8 was about 3 or 4. He told the lady that if she couldn't get enough out of my arm she could probably get it from my front bum because it bleeds sometimes ... I nearly died," writes Danielle Albrey.
"My daughter screamed out from the public toilet once, 'Mum you got tomato sauce in your nappy,'" writes Rachel Ann.
"Sitting down as a family having dinner (we don't get to do it too often, especially with two busy teens) and Miss 5 just finished her meal and announced ... 'I'm as full as a vagina!' I choked, Mr. 17 got up and walked out so she wouldn't see him laugh, Miss 14 nearly wet herself and dad just looked at her, stunned," wrote Samantha Jefferis.
Moms also shared their kids' hilarious drawings of a mom's "hairy fanny," a mom with a tampon string hanging down and a phallic flamingo. (Really, this is actually a comment thread worth reading.)
However, some online commentators have said that the picture was too private to be shared online, have complained that 5 is a bit too young for a boy to learn what a period is and have criticized Rohleder for changing her pad or tampon in front of her son.
"I shared it because it was funny, but I was also proud that my 5-year-old knows what a period is, when some fully grown men do not. It’s such a taboo subject for many adults, especially men. Women too, are embarrassed about their bodies and I have absolutely no idea why," she tells Metro. "I hate to break it to some of these people, but women bleed every month. That woman sitting next to you on the train? She’s having a period this month. She might even have it now. It’s not an 'unsafe' topic, it’s a normal bodily function that women shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed about."
Rohleder is embracing her period fully and thinks her kids' awareness is a positive thing. She tells Mom.me Julian even came home from school the other day and said, "My friend said his mum gets her period too."
"Kids aren't stupid or clueless, and they are capable of knowing about periods and things like this if they're explained in a way that is calm, factual and not 'gross,'" she says.