The first request was for a small pair of sterling silver studs. After my wife and I discussed it, she took him to Providence Place mall – he picked out a pair that had a brushed metal look. They pierced the lobe and put them in.
Honestly, they were so small they were barely noticeable.
Three weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon came the second request. It went something like this:
“Dad, can I get a new pair of earrings?”
“What’s wrong with the ones that you have?
“Nothing. I just want another pair.”
OK, I guess. Nothing too drastic, OK?
“Thanks, Dad. Can I borrow a few bucks?”
And then off he went – this time on his own – to a small smoke shop on Broadway.
About an hour later, he walked through the door, sporting a pair of silver hoops and a pleased look on his face. Still understated but definitely more noticeable than the silver studs.
At the time of this writing, there have been no requests for additional piercings, but I can say with a high degree of confidence that he wants more. I know this because he spoke so spiritedly about the ear-wear and one design specifically. I listened as Jake described an elaborate gauge earring that burrowed through the soft tissue of the lobe, hugged the back of the ear, shiny, scaly, and serpentine-like before punching its way through the cartilage of the upper ear. “It was pretty cool” – “Ah-ha,” I said, one eye on him, the other over his shoulder where I saw his mom, lips pursed, head shaking sharp and short left to right.
The earring thing is a relatively new development with our 17-year-old. Until recently, the only time the subject of earrings came up was in hushed tones around the kitchen table about what to get mom for mother’s day or her birthday or for Christmas. I remember the proud smiles he and his younger brother would share when mom opened her lovely froggy or dragonfly or starfish earrings.
Those were simpler times when earrings were just jewelry. Now I’m forced to think about earrings through the dark and edgy prism of teenage self-discovery.
I’m not too worried about this latest development, to be perfectly truthful. I see it as a relatively common and benign step towards self-expression – It’s all good, in my view.
My wife, on the other hand, is a little more hesitant. She worries about the potential snowball effect – might ear piercing be a gateway to nipple rings and a torso of tattoos? Might we wake up one morning to a Dennis Rodman situation across our kitchen table? Although I doubt this will happen, we have an obligation to our son to put some healthy boundaries in place – mainly because teenagers can’t see life beyond the front door.
I don’t want my son setting off metal detectors at the airport or having to explain to an angry and hard-of-hearing beachcomber why his MineLab Excalibur II keeps beeping whenever he approaches Jake’s blanket.
So, a few guidelines:
- A face should always have fewer safety pins than a cloth diaper. Better yet, no safety pins are allowed.
- For every piercing under consideration, your child must ask himself whether or not the same piercing would look OK on mom or dad. If the answer is no, he should not proceed – Jake, you won’t be a teenager forever.
- Always consider how your face will look when you remove the piercings – if you envision a crater-filled landscape created courtesy of a madman with a hole puncher and staple gun – then think about scaling back a bit.
I suppose that’s it for now, Jake.
Please keep these guidelines in mind next time you venture out. By the way, I like the hoops – they suit you.