Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Piercing and Karma

When I was ten, all I wanted was pierced ears. My parents told me that was a habit of people who were more from "the tropics" than we were, (still not sure what that means) but I begged them. Okay, maybe I was around nine when I decided to get my ears pierced, and it actually occurred when I turned eleven. Yup, I begged on and off for two years. Then one day, my mother relented.

It hurt. I got a terrible infection. When everything finally healed, I realized I had made a mistake. I didn't even like having pierced ears. But I couldn't tell them that. Ever. I told my friends, but not my parents.

So when my son came to me and asked if he could get his lip pierced two years ago, I shuddered. I explained how you shouldn't interrupt a mucous membrane like the lip, how it reminded me of Goths and scary, dark undercurrents like Satanic worship. So I guess that was my "tropics" - we, a nice family, don't have children with lip rings.

Then I remembered how my friends and I used straightened out paper clips to try and pierce our ears. We slept with "progressive rings" in our ears that were supposed to painlessly and progressively pierce our ears. I was so glad that my son was not like I had been, that he had taken my response so reasonably.

So when I went into his room the other day and found him with a match, a bottle of alcohol and the sewing box, I knew exactly what had happened. He had a new lip ring, made with a sterilized pin from the sewing box we keep right in the living room. He looked at me and said, "I know. I'm probably grounded. Just tell me for how long but don't ask me to take the lip ring out because it has to heal."

I was speechless. At least he had used heat to sterilize the pin, he had smeared Neosporin on the puncture and inserted a surgical steel ring. He explained how kids in his school were piercing a lot of body parts and he had been watching them for...well, two years. He knew I would never say yes.

I didn't ground him. I explained to him, sort of inanely at that moment, how most beauty is based on mutilation.

"I know, Mom, you told me that two years ago. Am I grounded?"

I looked at him. He makes the honor roll, he plays basketball, he's in band, he volunteers at the library. Things could be worse than a lip ring. I wondered what I should do.

"I've been asking you for like two years," he pointed out, "and you..."

Two years. Then he did it himself.

"You might decide you don't like having a lip ring," I suggested.

He shrugged. "Then I'll let it heal." He laughed. "I thought you were going to go crazy," he said, "I can't believe you're just standing there."

"It's sort of a done deal at this point."

"So I'm not grounded?"

"Just don't pierce anything else. Anywhere. No matter what your friends do. And tell me next time. So I can take you to a the doctor's or something."

"Mom, people do this like on the bus. Or in the lunch room. No one goes to the doctor's for this."


I got him more Neosporin and some hydrogen peroxide. We talked about how to avoid an infection. The whole time I was wondering if I should be doing something more punitive.

"Thanks, Mom," he said, "I can't believe you're being so cool about this. This isn't like you. I thought you would like take me to the ER or something."

"Actually, I know what it feels like to want to do something like this."

"No," and he really laughed, "you couldn't possibly know."

And here he is, from his cell phone to mine:


Mary Lyonelle, Rego Park said...

I would have grounded him. What kind of mesage are ou sending him that he can do that to himself? If I had kids, I weould never let them do that. He should be punished. In my opinion anyway. I think teenagers get away with way way too much these days.

Anne Spollen said...

If I had grounded him, would that stop his desire to have a pierced lip? Would it undo the piercing?

I think if you walked through a middle or high school, and saw the frequency of piercings and multiple piercings, you would be amazed at how common lip, belly, tongue, and eyebrow piercings are.
It's a style, and if I make a huge deal out of it, it will only increase the lure.

Marcia said...

Oh, the memories . . .

I got my ears pierced when I was 17, on the sly, because my mom said no. My best friend did the piercing with ice, alcohol and a big sewing needle, having watched an adult friend of hers do several piercings. Everybody amateur-pierced then. I trusted her degree of carefulness and brushed aside the fact that she did not have a strong stomach. She did fine. My ears were so frozen I felt NO pain. My parents found out at the two-week mark, and lectured me about deceit. I did get some infection, which I admitted to no one, but I just kept on with the alcohol treatment and everything eventually healed fine. I wear earrings almost daily to this day. :)

Tabitha said...

Yikes!! That picture of tongue piercing gave me the shivers...

I understand what your son was going through, just as you did. I wanted pierced ears in the worst way, and my mom didn't relent until I was thirteen. Then she got her ears pierced again (two in each ear), and I sooo wanted to do mine too. She said no. Boy, was I mad! So, I went without her. And she pretty much had the same reaction that you had with your son.

I think the key thing to remember is that you know your son, just as my mom knew me. And in the grand scheme of things, this wasn't so bad. :)

TerriRainer said...

Wow...Mary's statement says it all "if I had kids..."

That's all I'm gonna say about THAT, cause this IS your blog Anne!

As for piercings, I used reverse psychology, cause ya know, I got the smarts REAL good!

I told my daughter when she was about eleven, that when she got old enough, she could have her belly-button pierced. I told her how much it hurt (yes, from experience), but that it would be REAL cool.

I then patted myself on the back for being so much dang smarter than my oldest was....UNTIL SHE TURNED 14!

Then she told me she was old enough, and wanted that done for her birthday.

HOLY CRAP! Nobody told me that reverse psychology was a crock of crap!

What could I do? On her birthday, I took my daughter, her best friend, and my niece to a piercing place and had it done professionally.

No infection, no problems, and it is cute.

So much for reverse psychology...another parental lesson learned!

:) Terri

Babii3-J said...

aww your sons piercing looks good & he sounds and looks like a good kid. Your kinda like my mom. I remember when my older brother wanted to get his left ear pierced when he was about 13 and my mom ofcourse said no but he begged so much that she dicided to take him to get it done professionally ....a few months later he wanted to pierced the other side but my mom again said no a day later he pierced it himself and showed us. We just laughed and called him krazy. He's now 18 and both ear piercings looks very good!
I'm 16 and I did the same with my belly piercing this summer but done professionally. i begged for at least a year but my mom and dad said no and lectured me about how im too young.... untill i got it with my close cousin...i couldn't help showing my mom a day later because i was excited and we was a few days from going to the beach anyway...she looked at me and laughed and said "i wanted to go see you get it :("..i felt a little bad after because she's like my best friend and i wanted her there but she did let me know it was wrong going without her but she said that it is my body and she respects that as long as im she wants one too! i guess once kids become teens they should be allowed to get piercings if thats what makes them happy and be responsible for their own consiquences. Some parents dont want their children making the same mistake they did when they were young but they need to know that they wont make the same mistakes...they'll make their own as they mature.

Anne Spollen said...

Seems like piercing is a rite of passage to a lot of folks -- almost everyone has a "piercing" story to share.

For Marcia, you did it on the sly, and still got the deceit lecture. My son did it fairly openly and got a similar lecture - so parents' responses haven't changed much. I think part of it is letting kids have more control over what goes on with their bodies- and if you extend that idea out a bit, you can see why parents sort of universally freak.

So Tabitha, you rebelled with piercing also. See, this really does seem like a statement to parents; none of us said, "Oh, lovely dear, your piercings." And yet we all did something similar...

And Terri - I never got that reverse psych thing to work either. My kids are immune to it. I think it only works for the offspring of child psychologists. Or maybe Super Nanny.

Thanks to Babii3-J for stopping by!
I especially love hearing from teenagers (not necessarily my own).
I have to confess - belly piercings make me shiver. On the beach I look away when I see girls with them and my kids always laugh. Something about it...tongues are mildly weird to me, but navels are...too fragile or something, too connected to the inner body. (What if the tiniest bit of intestine slipped through that? See, that's the way I think, so I can't handle navel piercings).
And yes, parents have a really hard time with the teen control over their own body idea. Maybe that's the whole lure of piercing.

Anonymous said...

piercing do not determine whether you have a "nice family" or a "bad family" i have my lip pierced and i belong to a well respected and good group of people. karma has nothing to do with it. piercing are a way of expression just like your clothes.

Anonymous said...

um not all of us teenagers get away with too much thank yu very much. i dont think piercings are that big of a deal. im glad my mom sees that too. there just a way of expresing yur self. there are way worst things we could be doing then piercing our selfs. i have my toung belly button and 7 piercings in my ear. it doesnt mean im a bad kid. and if i dont like them i can take them out and they will close. And groundin yur kid wouldnt of changed anything. he still would of wanted the piercing. So mary mabey yu should have kids and be a parent before yu judge other peoples parenting stratedgies yu oviously dont know what yur talkin about. And because my mom lets me get them done... she knows they will be done the right way with out bad infections.

Anonymous said...

I really like you'r blog its very intresting. Your family seems really kewl. I am 15, My names Ashley. And I know Whats its like to want a lip piercing. My parents told me I oculd get anything I want done... except my lip, so naturally thats what I wanted. But, I wanted that before they told me no. My mom said she'd never say yes to somthing like a lip ring she haaaaates lip rings. I was able to get other ones though I currently have 13 pericings. [4 on my ear. My industrial which is 2, my nose, eyebrow, and tongue] I've been trying to get my lip since i was 13. I finnnnally just a few months ago got my mom to say yes. Butt the catch was to get my dad to say yes, which is like completly impossible.But, the only reason I could get my piercings is because I am a straight A student, honor roll, clubs, est. All my parents friends thing there crazzzy for letting me get piercings like I do but they jsut say " I'd rather he express her self and be happy, and get it done by a professional, then be unhappy, and do it herself or have a friend to it"

I know I am 15 and you might not have read this becuase of that but I hope you did. And If you did thank you =]

Byyy the way I think your son is Really attractive. And he seams really kewl. I think we'd have a lot in common.If we lived near each other [which I dought we do tha tnever happens lol] I'd say him and I should hang =]
But maybe you could tell him about me, a possible friend. I am putting my AOL in you can contact me that way or by myspace of course [] if you have any questions or comments feel free. and dont forget about your son haha i am not kiddin lol =]

Have a good day.


Anne Spollen said...

Hi Ashley -- actually, I like the comments from teens the most. I'm always flattered that a teen has read this -- blogging is pretty much for adults, with some exceptions.

Currently, Philip is grounded so he can't hang anywhere. But we live in NJ, near the ocean.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story!

CheshireCat said...

I actually stumbled across your blog while I was surfing the web looking for tongue piercings to offer a nice one to my bestfriend.

Personally I like piercings and tattoos, I have 9 piercings (4 each ear and 1 in the left nostril). I think people should be allowed to do with their body what they feel most confortable with and people can always remove their piercings and let them heal.

Personally I had my ears pierced when was a baby because it was considered to be high class when I was little. I had no choice there but when I grew I wanted to pierce my ears again. I did it with my mother's consent.
Then I turned 18, and here in europe it's when you are considered an adult, so I did two more holes on my right ear. Both on the cartilage. Those two I did to myself, they healed well. Then I did a tragus piercing on my left ear and another one on the cartilage. A few weeks I went to a professional piercing shop to get my nostril pierced and my left ear conch pierced. All my recent piercings are healling well.

My mother takes them well, even if she could choose it, I woldn't have these piercings. I do remember reading somewhere that tattoos and piercings are the expression of the soul over the dominium of the body. I believe most people would be surprised what stories people have and why they did their piercings and tattoos.

Personally I'm getting tattooed a love kanji and an hate kanji. They are to serve as a reminder of my father that passed away 2 days before I turned 16.

Now, I'm 19 and I'm going to try and become a tattoo artist and body piercer. Hopefully most people will come to make tattoos with meaning and not just because they felt like it or because their sweetheart finds it cool. Tattoos more than piercings should be considered before doing. Piercings are of easy removal and heal. Tattoos can only be laser removed and the person might get skid marks.

Hotfloridagirl106 said...

Ur son is hot lol

Anonymous said...

your so is mad hot

he reminds me of my ex with snake bites but your sons much hotter

Breanna said...

your son is hot and i love lip peircings

Charley said...

Hi, like with the other comments, I'm a young female teen, aged 16.

I've always been fascinated with piercings. I had my first lobes done when I was a baby by my mother. Growing up and seeing people with various piercings were interesting to me. How someone could change their body to express themselves; Tattoos and piercings.

When I was 14 I got my navel pierced. My mother relented because she allowed my sister to get it done when she was 14. But once I got that done I wanted more. I then pierced my second, third hole and most recently my top ear myself but got my nose and tragus done professionally. I'm even hoping to get my septum done sometime soon.

I admire how you've been with your son as if you were to be more strict he probably would have defiant. I understand you don't want him to ruin his body but at the end of the day, any piercing is better than a tattoo. If he didn't like the piercing later in life he could close it up with minimal scarring.

Natti :) said...

Well im 14 and i have four piercings. [my lobes(1), my lip,and my cartilage]and im working on convincing my mom to let my get my tongue:) l dont see the problem with piercings or tattoos my family costantly judges my cousin Holly who is an adult, because of her tattoos and piercings but in reality they have nothing to do with who she is inside and honestly shes really nice and shes a good mom too. -dont judge a book by its cover-