Father-daughter piercing experience
Every once in a while, the voice of quality and of alternative culture triumphs over that of mass-culture garbage. This is one of those stories. For me, body piercing and tattooing are things that when done right make the world a prettier, more playful place. And I just put my money where my mouth is.
My daughter turned ten this fall. A number of her friends have had their ears pierced and she had been asking to get hers done. Her mother said okay and from some of the girls' parents they got the names of a couple of mall jewelry stores that do your lobes for free if you buy a pair of studsthe usual crappy gun piercing. That's when I stepped in.
The kids' mom and I separated last summer. One of the issues was my tattoos and piercings. If you've read any of my experiences, you know that I put a lot of thought into what I get done. But to the kids' mom it was just incomprehensible self-mutilation. How anyone could profess to love me and be so unable to hear why this stuff matters to me is...well, more than I can understand. Long story short: mom= convention and mass culture; dad=weirdo and DIY.
So I talked to my daughter about piercing. I explained about needles vs. gunshow guns are more traumatic to the tissue and therefore heal more slowly, how they are impossible to get truly sterile, how they give you the option of any earrings you want instead of those crappy little gold balls and stars they give you for "starter" earrings at the mall. By the end of the conversation, she was totally onboard. She did not want to get her ears done at the mall. I said okay, I'd be happy to take her if her mom would go along with the plan.
I called Read St. Tattoo, where I have gotten a lot of work done, and asked if their piercer would do a minor's lobes. I spoke to the piercer, Megan, on the phone, explained that I wanted to get my daughter's ears done right, and did she do kids? She did, it would be $40, and we could bring in whatever earrings we wantedshe would clean them and install them.
Next came the conversation with my ex. This was the step I was most nervous about. As I said, she is hostile to my piercing fetish and I worried that she would be opposed to my...let's face it...indoctrinating our daughter into this freaky underworld of inked and steel-faced weirdos.
What won her over was the choice of jewelry. She was about to take the kids to a set of bigwig fancy dinners relating to a big professional award and she wanted our daughter to look nice. When I suggested that she could buy our daughter any earrings she wanted, so long as they were studs and had 14k gold posts, she agreed. I have to give her credit for thatI wondered whether her personal antipathy to my lifestyle choices would get in the way, but they didn't. I hung up and pumped my fist: Yesss!
When the big day arrived, I picked up our daughter. She was waiting outside for me, beside herself with excitement. "Do you have the earrings?" I did. Her mother had bought her some pretty little opal studs. On the way downtown, we talked about breathing through pain and the value of learning to care for new piercings. I also asked her what she thought of my getting something done, too. I had for some time thought about getting a helix piercing. Although I have several piercings and moderate tattoo coverage, in cool weather you'd never know it. I wanted something that shows all the time, not too wild but definitely out of the ordinary in a conventional environment. I thought a helix would compliment my ear shape well. I had wondered whether my daughter would think me getting pierced at the same time would be totally cool or a little weird. Answer: cool. Another, this time tacit, fist pump.
So we get to Read St. Tattoo. We go in. There are, of course, guys with full sleeves, guys with stretched lobes, women with big lobes and septum rings. The kinds of people my daughter only sees with me. And they're warm. They know me. They're excited to see her. My daughter's relaxed, I'm in my element. It's all a big love fest.
And then I had one of my better ideas. Maybe not in the top 5, but definitely top 20. I ask if they have any Beatles CDs. My daughter loves the Beatles. They don't have any in the shop, but they say they'll put on anything I want if I have a CD. "I have my iPod in the car," I said. "Cool," they said, "Go get it." So we put on "Help!" and my daughter laughed and relaxed.
Megan was very cool. She made my daughter feel very comfortable, but she also was extremely professional. I pointed out how Megan put on and then changed gloves. She took plenty of time to get the dots in the right places, letting my daughter and me check them and look at them as much as we needed.
I held my daughter's hand as she got pierced. She didn't even flinch. It was about as easy as it could have gone. One, two, and done. A tiny bit of blood, because of pulling the needle out and inserting the earrings, but that didn't faze my daughter, because the pain was so light.
Then it was my turn. She marked my ear, I adjusted it a bit, she agreed on my placement. She had me lie back (whereas my daughter had been sitting upright). It hurt quite a bitit's a thick bit of cartilagebut less than nipples or reverse PA. And it was over in a few seconds. My daughter looked at them and pronounced them beautiful. I had to agree.
Since then, we have been sharing after-care, and I've been checking with her on the healing. A week later, her lobes were clean, happy, and only tender when she bumped them. And I have a reminder of the experience that, if it keeps healing well, will be with me always.
I may be a bit of a freak, but I'm also a responsible parent and a moderately successful professional. So, conscientiously, I asked myself seriously what the implications of this would be. How do I feel about not-very-subtly condoning body piercing and tattooing? Will my daughter want to get some non-aural body part pierced in a fewor a coupleyears?
I did think about this, and I decided that I feel just fine about it. I'd be a damn hypocrite not to, wouldn't I? Although I have encountered a lot of people who get pierced for some dodgy psychological reasons, I've met just as many who do it for really healthy reasonsthey think it looks good, they enjoy it, it lets them express themselves. And I've met plenty who do other things for dodgy psychological reasons. Basically, if you're screwed up psychologically, you will find some outlet for it, whether it's piercing or something else. And if you're basically happy, then piercing is as good an expression of it as anything. And tattooswell, I just try to instill the notion that there are good tattoos and bad tattoos. What matters is how much thought you put into it. If my daughter hits 18 and decides she wants full sleeves or a floor-to-ceiling backpiece, I'd like to have a conversation about it, but I certainly won't object in principle.
My kids have laid out in front of them a life of privilege and proprietyif they follow their mother, they can dine with laureates and dignitaries. Or, if they follow me, they can become comfortable with folks who don't look like everyone else, who follow a subculture, who don't care what the mainstream thinks. My hope is that they'll keep one foot in each world, bringing credit to the subculture and maybe opening the minds of the ruling class just a bit.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 08 Dec. 2009
in Ear Piercing