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Fool me once... (11/07/2004)
By Cynthya Porter

So my daughter, who is about to turn eight, has been eyeing up one of the rights of passage of girls everywhere for some time, so much so that the conversation about it nearly became a daily ritual.

"Mom, when can I get my ears pierced?"

"Whenever you're ready," I would say.

"But does it hurt?" she would ask.

Now, I am not a proponent of sugarcoating certain things, and pain is one of them, because I'm not a big fan myself.

"Yes, it hurts, but not really bad and only for a minute or two," I would tell her, after which she would promptly decide she did not want her ears pierced. I would shrug and go back about my business, because, frankly, I could not care less whether she pierces her ears or not.

But as more and more of her girlfriends boasted sparkly little earlobes, the pressure eroded her fear and finally two weeks ago she said, "Mom, will you take me to get my ears pierced today?"

I studied her closely. "Are you sure you're ready?"

"Does it hurt?" she asked.

"Yes." I said.

"My friend said it didn't hurt," she replied.

"Well it does, but not very much and only for a minute. Don't ask me to take you if you're not ready," I told her.

She looked me square in the eye. "I'm ready," she said with conviction.

I made her do everything but pinky-swear that she wasn't going to change her mind once we got there, and we set off for the mall.

At the store, a friendly young lady put little marker dots on her ears and helped her pick out some very sparkly blue earrings. "Are you ready?" the girl asked. "No," my daughter replied, squirming out of the chair.

I admit it. I was mad.

I reasoned with her. I encouraged her. I threatened to never bring her back again. She'd sit in the chair and then bale at the last second. Over and over. So I tried to take her home, but she didn't want to go.

This kid was torn. On one hand, she really wanted those earrings. On the other hand, she was having serious reservations about having someone jab sharp objects through her flesh, which is actually pretty reasonable if you think about it.

She was just really scared and I felt bad for her, which is still no excuse for the lapse in judgment that followed.

"Would you feel better if Mommy got her ears pierced too so you can see that it isn't that bad?" Now, I should mention that I pierced my ears plenty during my misguided youth and the last thing in the world I needed was more holes in my head, but I was desperate. We needed to either get her ears pierced or get the heck out of there, preferably both so I never had to come back.

As soon as the words left my lips I prayed she'd say no, which of course meant she instantly loved the idea. The salesgirl looked at me like I was crazy.

This time I did make my daughter pinky- swear, swear on everything except a Bible, that I'd go then she'd go then we'd go.

My daughter watched closely as the girl punched one then two little earrings into what little earlobe I had available. I didn't flinch or even blink, but here's a news flash - it hurts - and I wondered if my daughter would make it to the second earring.

"Your turn," I said, hopping out of the chair.

Hesitation. "No."

My mouth actually fell open. "You promised!"

"I don't want to," she replied, taking a step back.

I was teetering on the brink of going from super-mom to psycho-mom as I stood there, back to square one, with one important difference: I was sporting a sparkly little pair of earrings when I'd been the one perfectly happy at home sitting on the couch.

So the salesgirl and I started over with her, each time with the piercing gun getting a little closer to her ear before she'd duck and spin away.

Finally, after 45 minutes, we walked out of the store. One of us had our ears pierced, the other one didn't. The only problem was it was the wrong one of us.

The next day my daughter watched enviously as I swabbed my newly pierced holes with alcohol.

"Mom, did that hurt?" she asked me.

"Yes," I said sullenly.

"I don't suppose you'd take me to get my ears pierced today, would you?" she asked.

I shot her a look that would wither flowers.


"Yeah, I figured you'd say that," she said sheepishly.

Frankly, if she ever asks to go back, like, when she's 20, it'll be my husband taking her, not me. I don't have anything left to pierce, or that I think should be pierced, and I've always wondered how my husband would look with an earring anyway. 


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