My criteria for ear piercing is that she be responsible enough to take care of her piercings properly. After some discussion, I felt she was ready. (This was also discussed with my husband, who did have some reservations, but didn't stand in the way). I let her know that if she wanted her ears pierced, that could be her Christmas present from me, and that she had until the week before Christmas to decide (leaving me enough time to get her something else if she opted against it).
While she was thinking about whether or not she was too scared to go through with it, I began to research places in the area for ear piercing children (she is nearly 8). I already knew that I was not going to take her to a kiosk or shop in the mall where teens wield the equivalent of a staple gun to puncture the lobes of their willing victims. Having several friends who are tattoo artists and piercers, I've long been aware that the needle is a much better option than the gun for all piercing. First of all, it is more sanitary, the piercer has been better educated, and the jewelry used is better.
First, I called the mother of the best friend. She wasn't sure where she was going to take her daughter, but she agreed with me that she was uncomfortable taking her to the mall for ear piercing. We agreed to both do some research and let the other know if we found an acceptable place for the girls to get their ears done.
I called close to 20 places in the area looking for someone who pierced children younger than 16. Most places told me to call our pediatrician and get it done in the doctor's office. Some doctors do piercing for infants and children, ours, however, does not. Besides, doctor's offices aren't really the optimal place to pick out jewelry. Finally, I found a tattoo parlor downtown that does pierce children's ears - provided I bring her birth certificate and my ID to prove that she is my child, and then sign some paper work stating my permission and understanding of the procedure. A bit of a pain, but I understand the need for it all - again, a protection that the mall doesn't provide...
I called the other mother and let her know what I found. She sounded pleased.
This past weekend, my friend and I took my daughter to the tattoo parlor get her ears pierced. (My friend came to keep an eye on my son in the waiting area and to provide moral support to my daughter.) She was so very excited! She got all dressed up in a "cool" outfit that she deemed appropriate for the place and the event - a black long sleeved tee-shirt with a metallic pink skull and cross bones, black lace skirt, black leggings and her purple metallic boots. She picked out pinkish opal chips for her first earrings. While we waited our turn, she flipped through the tattoo artists' portfolio books and admired their work.
Once it was her turn, we went back to the piercer's room where she explained step by step to my daughter what she was going to do. As she set up, my daughter and I amused ourselves by reading the Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse poster hanging on the wall. The piercer told us that more than a few moms were offended by the poster in the room. I was baffled - did they not realize that they were in a tattoo shop?
The actual piercing was quick and easy. My daughter didn't even whimper. And she was so very happy and proud of herself when it was done. She couldn't wait to go to school and show everyone her new earrings. She also called all of her relatives to tell them all about it.
Monday comes, and she goes to school. It turns out that the best friend also had her ears pierced over the weekend... At Claire's. A lot of the classmates thought it was really cool that my daughter got her ears pierced at a tattoo shop.
Tuesday comes. My daughter tells me that some of the kids told their moms, and that my actions with my daughter were frowned upon. Apparently it isn't appropriate to take children to a tattoo parlor for ear piercing - it's just not a good environment for them. Never mind that it is safer, more sanitary, and done by a professional...
Honestly, I don't care what they think. I'm already the Morticia Addams of the PTA. And regardless that my actions were the right ones, it just made my freak flag fly just a bit higher and more vigorously.