Handling Awkward Questions from Children About an Ostomy
Last updated: February 2023
I became a Nana this year to the gorgeous Jackson James, but I have been a step-Nana for over a year, and in that time, there have been a few unexpected moments.
One such moment was when I was out with my Aunt and her granddaughters (ages 4 & 7), and I needed to empty my bag. This was fine; however, her granddaughters wanted the toilet, too, and she suggested they go in with me.
Changes since having my bladder removed
With a bladder, this has never been a problem - all girls together, so to speak. However, it was the first time since having my bladder removed that I had company, and I was understandably a little anxious over what questions would arise. My Aunt and I hadn't even discussed how we would deal with any issues; she told me to go with the flow.
Both girls went first, and then it came to my turn. I lifted my skirt and pulled my bag out. Granddaughter 1 (the 4-year-old) was immediately interested in why I wasn't sitting down to pee, which in turn raised questions from the 7-year-old who loudly informed me that she "had seen my willy."
I was mortified but wanted to explain calmly
I was mortified, but I also wanted to handle this calmly and sensitively, so I started the conversations with "Remember when I was very ill and had an operation?" They both nodded, so I explained simply that my bladder, the bit that holds our pee, wasn't working and needed to come out. Because of this, I now had a bladder on the outside of my body which works just like their bladder does, but I don't get to "feel" I need to pee, and I just touch the bag to see how full it is. This satisfied their curiosity.
"Going to pee" or "going to empty my bag"?
At lunch, I went to empty my bag again, and they asked why I didn't say "I'm going to pee," or "I need the toilet." That got me thinking. I now don't say, "I need the toilet" or that "I have to pee." I always say that I am going to "empty my bag." What do you say? Am I the only one who says "empty my bag," or do you say that as well?
My step-grandsons have just accepted my bag and often burst into the toilet when I am emptying my bag. One of them thinks it's hilarious, and the other isn't interested in the slightest. Funny how both genders are different.
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