Saturday, December 19, 2009


There was nothing I wanted more at the age of 13 than to have my ears pierced. But my parents wouldn't budge. The magical age was 16. Three more years. I couldn't understand. It's not like I was requesting a beer or that the devil be tatooed on my arm. My best friends had had theirs pierced for years. Plus, it was African custom: all baby girls got their ears pierced. I think the order of operation was clip the umbilical cord, pierce the ears, then bathe, feed, and swaddle. But not with my folks. And they did get asked by a couple of Africans about it. I'm sure the Africans would just shake their heads and say, "Those strange missionaries. How is everyone to know she is a girl if her ears are not pierced?"

Despite the fact that my parents were firm in their stance, I begged and pleaded and cajoled. And I finally got my way. Sort of. We made a deal. If I practiced the piano for a half hour every day of summer vacation, I could get my ears pierced. I wasn't a willing piano student, so practicing every day for a half hour was torture, but I did it.

Kolo, one of the African doctors, did the honors, and he followed the same procedure he would for any African baby. He used a suture needle and threaded a strand of suture thread right through my ear lobe. I wore the tied off thread for the obligatory 6 weeks. It may have looked strange, but it sure was easy to care for since there were no diamonds or earring backs to dodge when cleaning. The only danger was snagging the loop on a brush or comb. And there I was, 3 years earlier than planned, a proud earring wearer.

Later on a furlough to the U.S. and in a fit of rebelliousness, I put 4 more holes in my ears. I still remember that night sitting in my little California apartment room, the Beastie Boys playing softly beside me so as not to attract the attention of my parents. One by one, I pushed the sharp point of a stud earring through my lobes so that I ended up with 4 on my left ear and 2 on my right. Thankfully, I escaped infection. And, surprisingly, I hid all of my piercings from my parents with my long hair. Later, of course, I wizened up and realized that one doesn't need that many extra holes in one's head, so I let them all grow back except for two in my left ear and the solitary beginning one on the right.

Now I have a whole new generation of little girls. While I wouldn't want to punch their ears full of holes at this tender age, I have no Age Sixteen rule either. In fact, when Alex was 3 I had her ears pierced. However, they got infected, I think due to the fact that I was cheap and didn't select the pricier 14k studs. I was working at the kids' preschool then, and spending an hour cleaning up an infected ear every morning was tough on both of us, so I took them out.

Since then, every time we pass a Claire's, I've asked her, "Do you want to get your ears pierced today?" She's always said no, although the Princess, if in earshot, has replied with a resounding "YES!! I do!" Despite Alex's resistance, when her BFF Grace expressed a desire to get her ears pierced, I suggested we have a Girls' Day Out and go together for the piercing. She agreed.

The day finally came yesterday, and we all met in a Claire's crowded with Christmas shoppers. Grace and Alex went first. Both of them turned down the suggestion that the Claire's teddy bear sit in their laps for comfort during the piercing as well as the soothing lollipop after, both ideas denied with a politeness but a slight eye roll just in case anyone would question the maturity of these very grown-up 10-year-olds.

The Princess, however, was more than willing to give the Claire's teddy bear a seat during the procedure.

And I elected to have two Claire's employees accomplish her piercing simultaneously, one on each ear. I was worried that otherwise Audrey might decide one was enough, thank you very much, and we'd be leaving the store with a lopsided princess. She shed a few big, huge crocodile tears after both earrings were secure, but it was nothing that the promised lollipop couldn't fix.

Both girls enjoyed coming home to show off their new ears. Of course, as beautiful as their sisters look, the boys would never admit it with a compliment. However, Daddy's compliments more than made up for silly brothers' neglect.


SJ said...

cute gals with earrings

A smile from SJ =)

tsinclair said...

Memories to last a lifetime.

Oh, a girl's day out sounds fun. I sure hope my boys have some girls for me. :-)

dclouser said...

That last picture of Audrey is absolutely priceless! I remember getting my ears pierced at ICA by another girl when I was 13. After that they outlawed piercing in the dorms. Can't believe I was so brave since I hate needles!

Teacher Mommy said...

Love it! My grandpa always rolled his eyes and asked why anyone would want to put more holes in her head--aren't there already enough? My grandma still wears clip-ons.

Mine were pierced when I was nine. I think my mom had a similar reaction as you did to the whole parental disapproval thing.

Cheryl said...

Congratulations, girls! You both look beautiful with your new earrings, no matter what your brothers say:)

CrossView said...

Your "Girl's Day Out" was a great idea! That makes it an official Special Occasion to add to the memories... They all look so beautiful!

I took my 20-yr old to have hers done when she was 4. Months, that is. She only cried for a few minutes. I cried a little longer.
I didn't have the 13-yr old's done and now she's not interested in having it done at all.

Those Beastie Boys must have been a bad influence! ;o) Then again, I have 3 piercings in each ear and Beastie Boys were nowhere around... I'm trying to picture you as a young rebel. That's hard to imagine. How long till your parents found out? Or do they still not know??!! =D

Kathleen said...

Crossview ~ Ha! They found out about a year later. I was back at boarding school by then, and my parents were visiting. I let my guard down, and my dad noticed it. Told me to march back into my room and take them all out! :)

My parents saw the girls yesterday and told them how beautiful they look! :)

5thsister said...

My parents were the same way so I ended up having a friend do it with a darning needle, after numbing up my ears with ice cubes. Yeah, I got the infection. I wore earrings for years but have not done so since my oldest was a baby (she tugged on an earring and almost ripped the earring through my ear!) She must have been as traumatized as I...whenever I ask her if she wants to have her ears pierced I'm met with a resounding NO! LOL.

Your girls are adorable and I'm glad the girls day out was such a success!

Arby said...

Boys? Compliment their sisters? That is a fate worse than death! Even as adults. The girls look cute.

Bernie said...

I love this story. It brought back memories of getting my ears pierced. Love it.



CrossView said...

LOL! I take it that a year later the holes still stayed??!! Gotta love Dads! ;o)

Of course grandkids are different...

Baby Mama said...

How sweet they are! Everyone told me to pierce my daughters ears when she was a baby but I couldnt bring myself to do I am just going to wait until she wants them. That way she cant blame me for the pain! lol

I love the way you tell your stories :)

@nnie said...

Kathleen, a special day for everyone... made even more memorable with fantastic pictures and momma's beautiful description. You have some very beautiful girls who are blessed to have a mom like you. :-)