More than one of my daughter’s kindergarten girlfriends have pierced ears, and she’s anxious to join the club. I have no problem with piercing, ears anyway. My own were pierced for my seventh birthday, causing no end of ire directed towards my own indulgent mama. She still remembers classmates’ moms calling her, horrified at her letting me blaze that particular trail.
The Rock is drawn to all thing sparkly, so the more jewelry the better is her motto. Why wouldn’t she want her ears adorned? All was well with her request, which she made driving home one afternoon from school, until her brother joined the conversation.
“I want to pierce my ears.” This is also no surprise: the kid wants to be a rock star, and as he plays two instruments, was Gene Simmons for Halloween, and sports the coolest wardrobe in the 4th grade (think skinny jeans and rock ‘n roll T shirts,) I think he’s on his way. I’m good with his alt-ambitions, just as I’d be fine if he developed a passion for accounting. (He’s a math whiz, too.) But the ear piercing request, coming from him, stopped me short.
Mind you, when I met my husband, he had long hair and an earring in each ear. He’s cut the hair shorter and shorter over the years, and hasn’t worn an earring since, oh, 1999, but there are no knee-jerk macho reactions to pierced male ears happening in this family. So why my hesitation? Why did I tell my kid we’d have to think about it a bit before signing him up for the needle, too?
I realized that what made me hesitate was my fear of what others would say about an ear-pierced 9 year old boy. We live in a very tolerant community, by and large, where the prevailing ethos is either “It’s all good”, or, for the more conservative, “Mind your own beeswax.” But what about outside our little small town bubble? As I said to my husband, the first kid at camp who made fun of my kid for wearing earrings would have to deal with one enraged mama bear–not a pretty scenario. And so, I took a deep breath and started to explain, with a kind of heavy heart, the idea of a double standard, the idea that yes, it is sometimes different for boys and girls. As the daughter of a first-wave feminist (ERA marches, anyone? Oh, yeah, I was there in 1978) this was anathema to me.
My son, though hardly pleased, understood my concerns, and agreed to revisit the issue in a couple of years. He has yet to give up on the idea of shaving his gorgeous locks into a mohawk…though we’ve tabled that one until at least high school. What say you, sisters? Have you ever felt yourself betraying your own beliefs to protect your kid? Did I do the right thing? I don’t know; I’m still waiting for my copy of the handbook.