By Lillian Michelle
I have a very clear memory of getting my ears pierced as a child. I was six years old and had practically begged to get them done. Everyone at school had theirs pierced and I wanted mine done, too. Finally, my parents gave in and Daddy took me to Claire’s in the mall. On the way, he said, “Now, if you’d rather not get this done, we can drive straight to Krispy Kreme. Don’t you like going there?”
We made it to the shop and again, before we walked in he pulled me to the side and said, “We can leave right now and go get donuts. You just say the word!” In the end, I chose to go ahead and get my ears pierced. I cried and we ended up getting donuts, too.
This memory has always made me chuckle a bit but, today? Well, today I finally understood why my daddy acted the way he did. Elizabeth finished her very last day of the very first grade this afternoon. It has been a hard year and I have been so proud of how she has taken it all in stride. We went to Walmart together to pick up a few things before going to collect her brother after school. She has long ogled the sight of the Claire’s they recently installed and today, there was a big sign posted advertising their ear-piercing service.
“Look, Elizabeth! You can get your ears pierced in there.” I said. Like me, she has come home with tales of flashy earrings her girlfriends wore to school. Like me, her parents continued to put it off. When she first brought up the topic, a few months ago, I showed her a video of another little girl that was about her age getting her ears done. I explained what would happen, how it would feel, and how long it would last. This was not to make her afraid but more so she would feel informed and confident about the decision she was making. This seemed to knock down her enthusiasm for a while but never the actual desire.
Today, I half expected her to not even react when I pointed out the sign, but she surprised me. “Let’s do it!” she excitedly responded. Now it seems to me that jumping in while the fire was hot was going to be the best way to go about this. Sitting around thinking about it was more than likely not going to do anything but build up her anxiety, so we walked right in.
She looked over the available selection and appropriately chose one of the more expensive pairs. What can I say? She has good taste. They were sparkly, rainbow-colored flowers. Just adorable! I reminded her of the process and allowed her to look at the “poky thingy” they would be using. “Gun” struck me as the wrong word choice at that moment.
She climbed up into the tall, pink bar stool and smiled as the ladies clipped her white hair back and out of the way but as they started loading up the “poky thingy,” her grin was removed and I could see the fear beginning to build in her eyes. She did not know it but my stomach had been churning the entire time. I certainly did not let that on to her, though.
“If you want to decide not to do this, we can leave right now and go get ice cream together. You just say the word!” I could hear my daddy’s words from decades earlier echoing through my own voice. “No,” she whispered in an unsure and rather quivery voice. “If you really want to do this, I’ll be right here with you. You will be ok. I promise. I want you to make this decision, though. Whatever you decide, Mommy is here for you,” I said.
She nodded the go ahead to the store clerk and they got right to work. I must say, they were truly excellent at their jobs. They were so kind and understanding. They explained every aspect of every motion they made to Elizabeth, not me. Things like that go a long way in my book. They even ran and got a stuffed cat off the shelf for her to hug. Finally, the big moment came. They lined up the “poky thingy’s,” one lady on each side. Her eyes glazed over as they counted down in unison, “5, 4, 3, POP!”
It was done and she was shocked. She shed no tears, but her face remained bewildered as we praised her for how brave she had been and how beautiful her new earrings looked. Mama instinct could see that she was very unsure of the decision she had just made. I felt the same way to be honest. “What have I done? She was not ready. I am the worst mom. Look at her!” These thoughts and more raced through my head as I looked at my baby girl sitting there stone faced and silent.
I allowed her to stay where she was seated to rest a minute as I walked over to pay, but before I could even pass over my debit card, Elizabeth said, “I’m going to be sick, Mama!” The race was on to grab a trash can and by the grace of God, we made it just in time! I gave myself the worst grief on the inside as I tried to calm and support her on the outside. “It’s ok. This is totally normal. I promise. You are ok. You are OK!” And she was… Once she got that off of her stomach, her smile returned. We got her cleaned up and the strut returned to her step. She was thrilled with what she had done and how they looked. It was just nerves. Mama Bear was relieved!
She beamed as she posed for a photo under the balloon arch and proudly showed her new jewelry to anyone that would look, including strangers! Haha. I watched her overcome her fear, today. She worked through the scary bit to get to where she wanted to be. As a parent, it was terrible to know that she would experience some level of pain: emotionally or physically. I want to take it away or protect her, but what message would that send? It is my job to teach her how to be a grownup and grownups have to deal with a lot of hard stuff. We both learned something very important today: We CAN DO hard things! Today was a good day.