Contact: superninjamommy [at] gmail [dot] com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Ear Piercing Chronicles, Part One

In a little more than a week, my oldest child will turn eight years old. That is scary enough in itself - did eight years really go by so fast? In fact, eight years ago on this very day, I was four days overdue, pregnant to HERE, and hoping against hope that my water would just break already. I did go into labor naturally, albeit eleven days late - but those eleven days seemed to go by much more slowly than the past eight years did.
But anyway.

For her eighth birthday, EJ has requested that I take her to get her ears pierced.

That scares the shit out of me.

I've always believed (and still do, of course) that if modifications are to be made to one's body, one should have the right to make the decision one's self. Which is why I am adamantly against circumcising babies, on the one extreme of the body modification spectrum, and on the far other end of the spectrum, I'm equally against piercing babies' ears. [And yes, I'm aware of how awkward that sentence is. But I like it that way.]

So when my sweet baby daughter - who happens to no longer be a baby - comes to me asking to have her ears pierced, what do I say?

I asked her why she wanted to have it done, and she said that a lot of girls in her class have their ears pierced. "Yes," I said," but we shouldn't do things just because everyone else thinks its cool. It's fine to be like all the other kids, but if you don't really want to be like them, that's awesome too."

She rolled her eyes at me. "Mo-om. Earrings are so pretty."

"Okay," I told her. "Then here's the deal. You need to understand what having pierced ears means, and how to care for them. You also need to understand how it's done." So I went on to explain how the person will have a gun in their hand - "not like a real gun, but like Mommy's glue gun" - and it pokes the earring in, and it hurts like a bee sting, sort of, but not as bad. I told her all about the daily cleaning and turning and how, after a couple months, it will be all healed up, no biggie, and then she can wear whatever earrings she wants, within reason. I don't want to scare her, but I want her to be well-informed.

Still, I don't want her to do it. Not because I think wearing earrings is wrong, or because she won't be able to care for them, or any of the other reasons parents give. No, I don't want my daughter to make this decision simply because I don't want my daughter to be old enough to make any decision at all. Part of me wants her to be my sweet chubby baby, with a mop of red curls and the tiniest little teeth you've ever seen.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love watching my children grow, and I delight in their new abilities. I think having EJ ask to get her ears pierced just kind of thrust me into reality - that she isn't a baby any longer. That she's growing into a capable, intelligent little girl with a razor sharp wit and the messiest room in the county. That she will never be my little cuddly baby again.

We're going in this weekend. I hope she picks something beautiful.


burnera said...

You are a good mom. I think it was a good idea to explain that it is going to hurt and that she will be responsible for cleaning and turning her earrings.

I argued with my mom about this one for several years when I was little. It was really important to me and I honestly still think it was a control thing for her.

Finally, at age 12, I was allowed to get my ears pierced. But she let my sister get hers done at the same time, which caused some major resentment for me.

I wish my mom had handled it with me the way you did with your daughter.

spearmint baby said...

saw you on momblognetwork! i have to contests running on my blogs. check out :)

Lisa said...

Aww, I can totally relate. My oldest, as you know, just turned 5 and will be headed to kindergarten in really mo more than just a few weeks (middle of August!). It's hard, and exciting, watching them grow up. I am with you on the baby ear piercing- and I have told Iry that I'll take her to do it whenever she's ready. We watched a girl getting her ears pierced the last time we were at the mall, which fascinated Iry but left her sure she wasn't up to it until she was at least 16. Which is also fine. Pierced ears isn't a big deal to me (I also have a pierced tongue and have had a pierced nose and eyebrow in the past) but it is very grown up, and I can appreciate how you feel. Good luck this weekend! Ask the piercer to team up with a co-worker to do both ears at once.