I barely remember getting my ears pierced when I was eight. My mom always took me along with her to the mall hair salon, so I get those memories mixed up with this particular day at the mall. But it isn’t really all that surprising that I can’t find a defined, detailed memory. I don’t distinctly remember my first trip to Disneyland either, and I was five. I mean really, it’s Disneyland! How can a kid not remember Disneyland?
Honestly, the very fact that my memory is hazy concerning these landmark childhood events actually gives me great relief. I smile knowing that MOST of the things I’ve likely tortured my children with will not leave a lasting scar. One of my personal favorites is the proud moment I told Sweet Pea, who was descending the stairs with a stick that was mechanically whacking each and every one of my brand new stair rails, “If you break my house, I’ll break you!”
With any luck the worst of these will be long gone from their memories by the time they reach the age of therapy.
But what bits and pieces of my own personal piercing I do remember revolve around the actual moment of impact. I sat petrified as the lady drew the mark on my earlobes. I actually thought this was the needle, and she was merely circling around to find the right spot to poke a bloody hole. Because I knew what was up. I had seen that piercing scene in Grease, and this was how they did it. They poked a virgin pin in your ear, whatever that was, and you screamed, just like Olivia Newton John. Hey, I knew things.
So by the time the nice lady finally raised that crazy gun contraption up in the air that looked suspiciously like my father’s carpentry stapler, I was absolutely mortified. And then POW! POW! It was done. It really didn’t hurt much at all. The fear leading up to it was much worse than the actual event itself.
Huh. Isn’t life like that most of the time?
As you have probably guessed by now, Husband relented to Sweet Pea’s requests, and allowed her to get her ears pierced. She bargained with him pretty nicely. Her list of terms included 10 KitKat bars (his favorite), which she believed to be her highest selling point. In fact, Husband later said he was swayed mostly by the absence of a key phrase: “everyone else has earrings!”
I had prepped her on this issue. Oh come on, she hired me as her attorney! I couldn’t just throw her out there on her own without any prep. I didn’t LEAD the witness. I merely directed her. I suggested alternatives.
It’s important to Husband (he’s wiser than I am) that Sweet Pea not be caught up in the trappings of what others perceive as “beauty.” Whenever she asks him if she looks nice, he consistently tells her that her beauty comes from her smile, and can be seen through her eyes, and reflected in her character. And he means it. And he repeats it. And then he tells her how absolutely beautiful she is, and she beams. It’s amazing, but he can still do this to her, even through the blasted computer.
Well – I guess it’s not all that surprising. He can do that to me, too.
But no matter how much we say about what’s important, sparkly things do still delight her. And hey, don’t they delight you? They sure do delight me. I think girls should feel pretty sometimes, and getting a little help from something like earrings is OK. We should feel good in our own skin, even if it happens to be covered in chiffon. There’s something about a great dress or a shiny pair of shoes and a man who appreciates them that can make me feel invincible, sometimes. Is that all bad? It can’t be. It just can’t.
But no matter what I think. While there’s no accomplishment in owning a shiny new pair of cubic 3z crystalline zircon delights for the low low price of $36.95, there is certainly accomplishment in what Sweet Pea did to earn them. And I do mean earn.
Sweet Pea (foolishly) volunteered to pay for the ear piercings herself, before she realized how much it actually cost. With a measly $12 in the Bank of Pig, she thought she was home free. She didn’t realize piercings actually cost closer to $40. Ouch. And at $2.50 per week allowance, she had no real concept of the remaining $28. But to her credit, my seven year-old took on extra chores and offered to do some of my work, and even did some work for some friends to earn a dollar here and there. Thank goodness for Aunties or I’d be broke.
The most significant event occurred on Thursday night when she realized she was within five dollars of blingified bliss.“Mom, what can I do for five dollars? I want to get my ears pierced TOMORROW.” “Five dollars? That’s a lot, sister. I don’t think I have any jobs worth five dollars.” “Oh, yes you do. The laundry.” “Oh. The laundry.”
Sweet Pea was right. Man, she can really punch me right in the sweet spot, sometimes. I abhor laundry. It lives in a constant state of clean and dirty piles on my bedroom floor. The challenge is figuring out the stinky from the clean, and it often involves the dreaded sniff test because both piles are so large and clothes move so quickly from one pile to the next that we can’t remember which one is which. My only goal is to keep the trench between them large enough that one does not contaminate the other.
There were no less than five loads of clean laundry on my floor on this occasion, with two additional clean loads on my bed. After surveying them, I agreed to let Sweet Pea earn the entire five dollars if she folded and put away ALL of it. Every piece. Everything hung up. Brother’s underwear, too. Socks all matched and everything.
Man, she wanted those earrings bad. That was the best two hours of work I ever got out of her. I actually heard her singing “Jingle Bells!” at one point. Desire is a great motivator. And, unfortunately for her, she has now proven exactly how long she can work without a water, snack, pee, or rest break. Mwah ha ha aha ah ahhahha haha ….
When I picked her up from school on Friday to head out to the mall, she reported that several times during the day she thought about getting the earrings and got so excited that she could barely breathe. Good grief. But once it came time to do the deed, she hesitated. We walked over to the ear-piercing station and another girl was there, having her ears done. She stared in horror and her eyes became sullen. She told me later that she just about called it off.
Finally, just when I thought we were aborting the mission, she took three deep breaths and pronounced, “I’m ready, I’m ready, I can do this, I can do this. I’m ready!” Okay, okay! Wow, that kid has the “fake it till you make it” thing down. What a champ. I wonder where she learned that.
just like the little me
many years ago
she closed her eyes
It was over.
She smiled. She smiled and smiled and smiled. She floated back and forth under the mall lights in front of a full-length mirror, and I don’t know exactly what she saw. She was very quiet, smiling there in front of the mirror. Maybe she saw a grown-up girl. Maybe she saw a pretty little girl. Maybe she didn’t see the girl, but only the sparkly things.
Even though it was late and The Preschooler was melting down, I didn’t hurry her. I stood watching her, trying to find my eight year-old brain and relishing the moment, which was all girl. I may not have been able to crawl inside her mind, but I can tell you what I saw: she was beaming with pride over her accomplishment.
Her very sparkly über fancy light refracting brilliant crystal fourteen carat gold accomplishment, but an accomplishment nonetheless.
I hope Sweet Pea will remember all of this better than I did. I hope she will continue to be unafraid of hard work. I hope she will appreciate the reward. I hope she will keep asking for permission by using all her might and persistence to persuade. I hope she will seek help and hire professionals when the task is beyond her experience.
But most of all, I hope she will stay small for a little while longer. And I hope she will keep doing what she did later that night, when she got on the computer with Husband. She asked that wonderful question she always asks, just bursting with confidence because she already knew the answer:“Daddy, do I look pretty?” “Yes Sweet Pea. You sure do. I can see your smile all the way from here.”