'Everybody Else Is Doing It'
I knew it would eventually happen – those dreaded words: "Everybody else is doing it!" I just didn't think it would be this soon.
"But Mom, everybody in my class has their ears pierced!" my seven-year-old said with the urgency of someone who had just stumbled across a roaring house fire.
"I doubt that," I said as I continued to stir the pot on the stove. "I really doubt that."
"No, I'm serious. If I don't get my ears pierced I'll be the only one," she said with even more urgency. Every ABC after-school-special that I ever watched flashed before my eyes. She needed pierced ears to be cool. Otherwise her life was ruined, and I would be held responsible.
I pondered this thought for a moment. Clearly, in her mind, the lack of pierced ears was a social downward spiral – no invites to playdates, which would in turn lead to no invites to the prom or other parties, which would of course lead to no husband, no kids, no friends. You get the picture.
I too see the ear-piercing as a social downward spiral. If she gets them pierced what's next? Her tongue, her eyebrows, her belly button? And then what kind of social life will she have? She'll be one of those kids who dresses in all black and writes suicide poetry on her MySpace page.
"Not gonna happen girlfriend," I say with conviction as I picture my baby with her hair died jet black wearing a giant ring in her nose and dating a guy named Diesel who plays drums in a heavy metal band.
"But Mommy, (notice I'm Mommy now, not Mom, she's working it hard), then when can I do it?"
"When you're thirteen. I was thirteen, so you have to be thirteen. You can't have your ears pierced until you can take care of them yourself," I said echoing my mother's words from 1979.
"But everybody ... " she said.
"Who, name them," I dared her.
She had a few examples, one I was able to quash by calling the girl's mother and confirming that she in fact did not have pierced ears.
Most of the examples were girls who had their ears pierced when they were babies. There is an older cousin with pierced ears who is not yet thirteen, but I explained that every family has different rules.
This is my standard explanation for everything – why we don't play with toy guns, why our kids are not allowed to drink soda and why they have to wear a helmet on a bike, scooter or any motorized toy.
I'm not sure in the end if I will honestly make her wait until she is thirteen. Maturity cannot be defined by numerical age alone. It's an arbitrary age not based on anything but what my parents decided in the seventies.
But I can tell you without reservation that it won't happen anytime soon, and it definitely won't happen just because "everybody else is doing it."