a Rite of Passage

It is hard to explain to someone who knows nothing about piercing or tattooing that a parlour is one of the most sanitary places to get anything done. Health department comes in and inspects, asks questions, and by the gods, those 'artists' have to be on the money.

In those multi-purpose store that have those earring places, well...I never hear of anyone inspecting the ear piercer.

Anyway, another thing I've always had a hard time explaining was why I never pierced my daughter's ears.

When I was pregnant, both times, I quit smoking, because frankly, it wasn't the kid's choice to partake of those noxious substances. By the same token, I never pierced their ears. If there was going to be mutilation to their body, it was going to be their choice, not something inflicted upon them 'just because'. Not that it didn't tempt me, the older child had almost no hair as a young one and people mistook her for a boy often, even if she was wearing pink and frills and flowers.

Regardless, the older one, who just turned 11 last month, comes to me and tells me she wants her ears pierced.

So, like the adults, I explain to her the advantages and disadvantages of having a tattoo parlour piercing as opposed to one you can get in those little botiques in the mall. The fact it's easier to clean rings than studs. The fact that it costs about the same amount and a lot of other little things that you'd only know if you were A) interested in that kind of lifestyle or B) interested in doing that kind of work. After weighing her options, she decides she wants to go to the tattoo parlour at this point.

So as we go in, I explain to her about the jewelry. The purpose of the captive bead ring, gauges, and the different kinds of piercings. I tell her that other than her ears, she'll have to wait to get anything else done for a while. I explain to her the care and feeding of a piercing, what it all entails, the kinds of jewelry, the stuff the jewelry's made of, and assorted other things. I also tell her about some of the experiences I went through when I was a piercer. After a while, I just put it to her, "If you don't want to do this, then we can just leave and it's all good. If you want it, tell me and I'll make it happen."

"I want my ears pierced," she says promptly, with a bit of surprise - I guess she was still kind of unsure of herself, but sure enough wanted some earrings.

So the guys look at me like I'm a bit soft in the head, but they don't say anything. I bang her birth certificate on the counter, fill out all the paper work and just talk a little about why we were there instead of at the mall. By that time, they've already got her saddled up and cleaned off, so I'm rushing to go take pictures.

And I'm proud. I'm SO proud.

Last week she won second place in a spelling be. We're talking afterwards, and honestly, I told her I was almost as proud of her for getting her ears pierced as I was of her winning in the contest. "I'm not proud that you had your ears pierced," I explain. "I'm proud that you realized you were afraid, but you did it anyway and you overcame your fears because it was something you really wanted to do. I'm proud that you were afraid, but you did it regardless. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to overcome our fears. But if we can get past some of these things we're afraid of, we can do anything. I'm so proud, I want to cry."

And she does that, "Mom" where it sounds like they want to roll their eyes, but she adds, "If you cry, it's okay. It's not bad to cry."

And all I can do it smile. "I'm proud. So proud."

This is afterwards, when we're at the store getting that liquid Dial soap that all piercing should be cleaned with, and some ibprofen, and instead of listening to me blubber on, she grabs some of those rainbow Twizzlers and asks politely for some chewy candy.

I love my kids. Watching them grow up is amazing.

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