Over a month of pleading and well-timed compliments of my “sparkly ear jewelry,” and our four-year-old daughter had sent a clear message: she wanted her ears pierced. I mused about it on Facebook, hoping for tips and reputable places, though the surprising backlash by some gave me pause…and giggles.
We’re waiting to get her tattoo until she’s 6, relax!
Fortunately, most people were helpful, offering tidbits like get both ears done at once, and have Advil at the ready.
My husband and I agreed to bide our time to see if our girl’s request was in earnest or, like other flash-in-the-pan phases, this, too, would eventually pass.
It did not pass; in fact, she talked about it more and more and eventually began begging, so we sat down together and I explained that my earrings actually went through the skin of my earlobe, and while the piercings didn’t hurt all that badly, they did sting. I warned her the whole experience might be a little scary. She asked if I would hold her hand, and when I promised I would, she was ready to roll. “Okay, Mummy, ‘yet’s’ go!”
I called to make the appointment, was given the name of the woman who would do the piercing, and we decided there was no time like the present. But not before the child changed into one of her best dresses and accessorized for the occasion. Of course.
Good, great, grand, ‘yet’s’ go!
Once at the salon, my gal happily plops down in the waiting area, little kid legs swinging in a grown-up chair. I overhear the receptionist mention the woman who is doing the piercing and quietly begin preparing myself. But the receptionist isn’t saying the woman is ready; she’s telling one of the other stylists that the woman purposely took a nail client, despite having a piercing on her schedule.
And yes, at this point, I am in full fledged eavesdropping mode
Because this woman is one of only a few at the salon who is licensed for piercings, and because she has obviously opted not to do my daughter’s ears, we are now smack dab in the middle of a scheduling pickle. The stylist rolls her eyes and whispers, “Always” to the receptionist who nods in agreement. I now begin preparing myself to tell my daughter, who is “reading” a 300-page novel upside down, we’ll have to come back another day, bracing for her Richter-scale worthy reaction. Instead, a kind face appears from around the corner and introduces herself as the nice lady my daughter will soon hate. In other words, she will do the piercing, and unfortunately, she has to do it one ear at a time.
Seated at this lovely lady’s station, my sweet, naive girl snuggled on my lap, truly believing this won’t hurt, happily offers up her first ear.
Her chocolate brown eyes grow twice their size as she wails.
“Ow! Ow! OW! MUMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!”
She closes a fist around her not-yet-pierced earlobe as though it will disintegrate like a vampire exposed to daylight. She continues to quietly sob, my soothing words nothing more than background noise.
My eyes fill with tears, and I catch an empathetic glance across the way: “I swear she wanted this!” I cry to a fellow Mama. She nods, knowingly, and assures me, “She’ll forget all this by tonight.” I am instantly irritated that I would feel it necessary to explain myself, but the fact that the original stylist purposely denied our appointment keeps playing over and over in my brain. Is this why she wouldn’t pierce my daughter’s ears? Because she anticipated the chaotic and emotionally-charged response?
I decide we’re staying the course; we came to get both ears pierced, and we aren’t leaving until they both are. It’s not easy to witness a little one in panic mode, and now I am overcome with the urge to simultaneously dropkick the stylist who stood us up and stuff my baby back in the womb for safe keeping.
The other ladies at the salon are absolutely incredible. They try to occupy my 4-year-old with smart phones (watch this hilarious cat video!), offer an entire basket of lollipops, and a few even throw cash money at her to entice the second piercing. I hold her close and whisper, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” approximately 4.5 million times, but each time we make a move or she sees the piercing gun, the world is drowned out by four-year-old window-shattering protests of NO!
Finally, my girl calms enough to answer one question: I ask her, on a scale of 1-10, how badly her newly pierced ear hurts. As she mulls over an answer, the stylist and I communicate with our eyebrows, solidifying a plan of attack. Distracted by thought, my daughter responds, “Maybe a two,” and I hold her in a tight hug while the stylist deftly moves around her and pops that second earring in.
Fear quickly subsides and my gal marvels at the pink sparkles in her ears, followed quickly by requests for 36 lollipops. A collective sigh of relief fills the salon with the hot breath of 20 women who had been quietly hoping for the best, or maybe silently judging my parenting.
My daughter is over the ordeal and focused on the dollar bills in her hand and the lollipop in her mouth before we even pay. The child actually made money getting her ears pierced! As we are about to leave the salon, the stylist who refused our appointment comes over to see us out. She seizes the opportunity to tell me it’s just too hard for her to watch little kids in pain. Dramatically clutching an imaginary string of pearls, she loud whispers, “I just can’t do those young ones!” Interpreting her comment as passive-aggressive judgement, or maybe just allowing PMS to get the better of me, I smile a tight-lipped smile and dismiss the urge to fire back. Had my child’s tear-stained face not already transformed into a bright smile dripping with pride, I may have said something poetic like, “Piss off, lady, and do your job,” but instead I simply say: “There’s nothing wrong with giving her a chance to be brave.”
I know!! I totally surprised myself with the ability to be profound when peeved.
Since having her ears pierced, my daughter has reminded me her earrings need cleaned, and she turns them twice a day as per the instructions. She sleeps on them, swims in them, and has survived her baby sister’s attempts to claim them as her own. My daughter has taught me that bravery doesn’t always have to be in uniform, nor is it always graceful. Sometimes bravery is simply fighting the urge to jump off your mom’s lap and run away, and sometimes bravery is not wasting your breath on someone not worthy of your time.