My mother loves to tell the story of how, when my older sister was four years old, she asked to get her ears pierced. Never one to be overshadowed or left out, apparently I, at age two, insisted that my ears were going to be pierced as well. Unsure of whether my mother actually intended to allow me to proceed, I was brought with to the jewelry counter at Sears where my sister sat, stoic and proud—until the ear-piercing gun blasted a little gold stud into her tender flesh. My mother assures us that the entire store heard my sister’s screams, as well as her wailing protestations that the lady with the gun would not be coming anywhere near her other ear.
I, on the other hand, was a bit of a brat and a showoff, and eagerly pushed my sister aside for my chance at gallantry. Aghast that I was not scared off, my mother had little choice but to allow me to go through with it. I got my ears pierced with not so much as a squeak, and was mad when, after finally allowing the lady to pierce the other ear, my big sister was also granted an ice cream cone for “being brave.”
I’m recalling this story not because I aim to remind my sister of her aversion to pain for the sake of beauty (I could recall the day, 18 years later, that she got her nose pierced, for that), but because I am now the mother of two little girls. And though they are already past the age that my sister and I were when we got our ears pierced, I do think about how I will react if and when they desire pierced ears for themselves.
I’m definitely not into the look of babies with pierced ears, though I don’t judge other parents for piercing their infants’ ears. I know for some, it is a cultural tradition. For others, the adornment is simply something they think is cute. That I didn’t do it to my own babies does not mean that I disapprove of another’s decision to have it done.
But I do wonder what my answer will be, should the question come up. Is there a “right” age to allow a little girl to have their ears pierced? Did you have your daughter’s ears pierced? Or can I simply give them my parental fantasy answer: that—like driving, dating or leaving home—they aren’t allowed to do it until they are 20?
Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.