Thursday, December 13, 2012

History Repeats Itself

It was circa January 1974.   I was 11, and I wanted my ears pierced for my 12th birthday. 

I began a full fledged lobbying campaign which would put the gun, car and oil lobbies to shame.   I pressed my case at every available moment: in car rides, at the dinner table, at bedtime.  I marshaled intellectual arguments (I have considered the risks and benefits) and psychological (I am the only one in my class without pierced ears, did you know Nancy got hers done when she as a baby?). 

My mother's main objection (and perhaps my father's) was that I would change my mind and would let the holes close up and would be forever scarred. My grandmother (Mom's mother) had them pierced in the 1950's and she still bore scars some twenty years later. 
At long last, my parents relented. What seemed to be the the turning point?  There was a humour column in the Toronto Star which was written by a father detailing the battle in his home with his almost 9 year old daughter on the very same subject.  The column concluded with a closed-doors negotiating session between father and daughter.  The result was a compromise: daughter could have her ears pierced for her ninth birthday, but she would wait until at least 13 to marry. 

The only condition was that it had to be done by our doctor.  The great irony in all this, was that when the appointed day came, my Mom also got her ears pierced and she was a great lover of pretty (and expensive) ear rings.

Sydney started asking about getting her ears pieced in kindergarten.  I was not keen on it and thought 8 might be an appropriate age.  But remembering the battle royale I had waged, I wanted to tread softly. So I did a little ignoring. Asked a few questions.  Then I said "you know to pierce them, they have to put needles in your ears?"

"Never mind Mommy".

Sydney spent the better part of two years dreading the shots she needed to go to kindergarten. She would have taken deferred acceptance to school (which she was dearly looking forward to) if she could also defer the shots.  So voluntarily signing up for needles in her ears, was not something she was prepared to do.

For close to four years, about every six or so months she would mention it, I would ask her if she wanted needles in her ears, she would say no, and the subject would lie dormant for six months until the next feeble mention. The great irony in all of this is that Sydney, without a word of a lie, has the highest pain threshold in the family.  But she has the greatest fear of pain.

But this past summer as Sydney approached her ninth birthday, I got a different answer to my question about the needles.

"Can I bring blankie along?"


"Then I'm ready Mommy."

Having delayed this operation for 4 years, you might think that I should also be ready. I wasn't.  In the past 4 months I have visited Claire's, the undisputed champ of ear piercings in our area, at least six times to conduct a one woman inquiry into the process.  One might think I was worried about the sanitary conditions, or the ability of a twenty something to do this properly. No.  I had a grave and irrational fear that the holes would not be place symmetrically I heard about the markings, the gun, the process. All of it. I heard about how many they do, the best time to come, the merits of having both ears done at once.

I managed to convince Sydney to defer the piercing from her birthday in September to Christmas with the promise of a fantastic birthday gift and by promising she could have it done before Christmas.  So as December marched on I had competing fears of Sydney getting her ears pierced and my pathological distaste for visits to busy malls.

Finally on a day with symmetry suitable for my symmetry obsessed self (12-12-12) we went to the mall:

All ready:
All pronounced by Mommy to be suitably symmetrical (after only a minor panic attack).

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