“Can I get my nose pierced?” The question comes and I am not surprised by it, but rather by how soon it came. My daughter is only 13. She will be a freshman in high school soon. I didn’t pierce my nose until college.
“You haven’t even had your ears pierced. Maybe we should start there,” I say pushing back, though I’m not sure why. Her request doesn’t bother me, and at least she’s not asking for a nipple piercing. That could come some day. I push the thought away and do what so many mothers of teens have done before me. I decide to strike a deal. This will not be the first or the last.
Deals will become a major part of parenting my teenagers. “If I–INSERT TASK HERE, will you—INSERT DEMAND/FAVOR HERE,” is something I hear often. My children have become adept at bargaining, and while it often costs me money, it is a skill that will serve them well in the real world once it finds them. As much as I hate to admit it, it is one that makes me proud.
“Let’s wait a month and if you still want it, I’ll take you.” Satisfied, she smirks and heads off to her bedroom. I am surprised at how quickly she acquiesced.
Putting the Deal WAY Off
A week later, the world as we know it implodes. Schools shut down. We go into full-on recluse mode. Thoughts of facial piercings and teen desires are pushed aside for frantic toilet paper searches in empty aisles.
We are in the middle of a pandemic, an unprecedented event none of us saw coming. We toil, we cry, we attempt to adjust to the new world of remote learning and work. We adjust to the overabundance of family time we always thought we’d never have enough of because our lives were so busy, so crammed full of stuff. It’s an overabundance that after several months threatens to suffocate us.
“Mom, remember you said I could get my nose pierced,” my daughter reminds me one afternoon. It has been more than a month. The pandemic made us forget her piercing and so many other things.
“We can’t now,” I say knowing how COVID-19 has shifted our world, throwing it so far out of whack that we already wonder how it was that we once lived without masks and distance. We wonder if we will ever live without these things again.
“Why?” she presses, though she knows.
“As soon as this is over,” I say, the uncertainty feeling like a heavy shroud we both are afraid will never lift.
“When will that be?” she asks. I say nothing. Who can?
Spring segues to summer, summer to fall and we continue to function, to move forward even on the days where we wonder if we can. Even on the days when everything seems impossible.
Going For It
It is on the Saturday before Halloween when we decide to go to a local shop and get my daughter’s nose pierced. She brings a friend for support. We sign the paperwork as we wait for her turn. I’ve debated getting mine pierced along with her.
The first time I brought it up, it was a joke. I’m a 45-year-old mother of four who works in a school with kids. I am sure I have no business getting a facial piercing at my age, and yet I find myself sitting in the chair that is still warm from my daughter’s body. I held her hand when she had her piercing, and now she holds mine.
Who cares how long ago college was? Who cares that my last piercing was before marriage, children, and true adulthood? Teenagers don’t hold a monopoly on piercings and tattoos. Youth does not dictate how fun or carefree we remain. Later, I eye my new piercing, a simple tiny diamond stud and I feel a freedom that I haven’t in a very long time.
It was a great bonding experience that not only connected me to my teenage daughter but to a part of me that I’d forgotten about in middle age. Piercing my nose at 45 was an empowering experience that proved to me that the world is still full of promise. The real beauty is that it has made me want to do more things that I once saw as age restrictive.
I’m thinking of getting another tattoo to accompany the two I already have. I acquired the first one–a bird flying into the sun–at age 18 with my foster mother. She was in her late 50s and getting her first tattoo as well, a yellow rose. It is a memory I cherish, just as I cherish the nose piercing I got with my daughter.
Thankfully, beautiful memories are not age restrictive either.