Every little girl remembers getting her ears pierced…well, at least, I do. But not as clearly as I remember my sister get hers pierced. Marked by the insane screeching and blotchy-faced toddler with tears gushing out of her eyes. It’s in memory of her experience that I decided not to say a word about it to my girls…ever. After all, who wants to by the mom gripping her child in a sleeper hold to get her ears pierced? Not necessary, right? And, who wants to be responsible for cleaning said ear piercings whilst they heal for the next 6 weeks (if nothing goes a-wry). Note-this also tends to require versions of the sleeper hold to clean and ‘turn’ the earrings 3 times a day. Three times a day! How about NO way.
About a year ago, my oldest Brianne, then 3, was admiring my earrings.
“Mom, can I get my ears pierced?”
I quickly explained to her that they take a little tiny ear-piercing gun…that kind of looks like a stapler…and they punch a hole in your ear.
“I don’t very want to get my ears pierced yet, Mom,” she said. “Maybe when I’m bigger.”
That was enough to last the next 6 months. Then, she asked again.
“Yep, but it only lasts for a little second, Mom.”
So, I explained that after that we have to clean than and turn them every day for a long time before they are healed.
“I think I’ll wait until I’m bigger, Mom.”
And that was it. It didn’t matter which friends had their ears pierced, or how cool the earrings were in the store…nothing was enough make the whole process worth it. I was relieved.
As I was cleaning the attic one day, meticulously going through every single box and crate since we’ll be moving soon, I discovered a small treasure I thought I’d lost along life’s path somewhere. I small box with “Best Friends” scripted on it…and inside were all the 14K Gold earrings my parents and my Grams had given me when I was a little girl…very soon after I got my own ears pierced at around Brianne’s age. Looking at the tiny gold crosses I wore for my First Communion, and the little gold unicorns my parents got me for pulling my quickly sinking little sister out of the pool (the second time), brought back a tiny flood of emotion and nostalgia.
Funny how when you find something like that you feel like you are living in those memories again for a moment. I could remember the smiles on faces as I opened the earrings, and the look on my face in my bedroom mirror as I admired them.
My daughter Brianne, now 4, loves to go through any box full of anything that used to be mine when I was a kid. So, we sat in my room together and sorted out all of my old treasures.
“Mom! Look! Unicorns!” she exclaimed. “Look! It’s Jesus’ cross, Mom! Oh- AND TURTLES!!!! MOM! CAN I HAVE THESE SOME DAY WHEN I GET BIGGER AND GET MY EARS PIERCED?” she yelled all in one enormous breath.
“Sure, Brianne. When you get your ears pierced, they’re yours.”
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that she trounced happily into my room and asked if she could get her ears pierced. I reminded her, again, of how they did it and how I’d have to clean and turn them. Still, she insisted that she was ready. But I wasn’t. So, as toddlers often do, I waited for her to forget about it and move on to the next thing.
Like a little mini version of her dad, she came up and asked me a question that didn’t require a yes or no answer. She straight up tricked me.
‘Mom, when can I go get my ears pierced?”
And as the words are coming out of my mouth I’m trying to take them back….”Tomorrow after school?”
“YAY! YAY! YAY!”
My last-ditch effort was a, “you better ask your Dad just to make sure he’s OK with it.”
She did…before the sun came up that next morning. And, he quickly agreed.
So, after school that day, we picked up Grandpa (who wouldn’t miss this…and like me, could not believe she was ready to go through with it…) and went to the mall to get her ears pierced. She skipped happily up to Piercing Pagoda, picked out a pair of red earrings (for Christmastime…of course…), and hopped up on the chair.
Now, I knew…and Grandpa knew…that the first ear would be one thing. And it was. Immediate shoulder jerk and eyes popping out in surprise. But, the second ear…we feared…would be left blank.
“OK, great job! Now, time for the other ear, “the woman said.
All of the sudden, the brave little girl who barely needed mom for the first ear now needed blanket, Kermy, and Mommy…and it still wasn’t enough. I tried every Jedi-mind toddler trick I could muster up to get her to lower that right shoulder down just enough so the woman could pierce the other ear…but she wouldn’t…couldn’t…get over the shock of the first ear and lower her arm.
So there I was. In the middle of the mall. My child on my lap in a sleeper-hold-like position…gripping her while the woman pierced her other ear. One small tear dripped down her cheek as the earring went through…and then…
“You are so brave!!!!!!!” I told her, a tear of my own working its way out. And down from the chair dropped Kermy and blanket. Brianne didn’t even notice. Looking at her new Christmas red earrings in the mirror…lollipop and sticker in hand…I felt like my little toddler turned immediately into a little girl.
I was not ready.
In that moment, as a mother, I realized I’d have many more of these milestones to face. Moments when she is more ready to grow up than I am for her to. Not only is she not a baby anymore…she’s not a toddler, either.
She went to sleep that night talking at a blistering speed about all of her girlfriends that she couldn’t wait to show her new earrings to at school the next day…and what she though each of their reactions would be. The next morning as I opened the door to the van to take her into school, she was leaning out the door yelling across the parking lot…
“I got my ears pierced!!”
And yes, cleaning and turning them is going just fine. She was ready.
Happy Ear Piercing…