Once upon a time, there were a pair of naked ears …

A little over a year ago, Helena became obsessed with getting her ears pierced. She had never expressed any interest in her ears before, except for the time she almost severed one, so we were caught off guard. She went to bed one night as a totally normal six year old child and woke up the next morning, ripping her ears off her head and throwing them in my general direction, begging me to pierce them with some 14K gold.

I told her that I had to discuss it with Daddy and seeing as how Daddy thought hammering a nail into a perfectly good wall was the epitome of desecration, it wasn’t likely that he was going to jump up and down enthusiastically about hammering anything into perfectly good set of ear lobes. But I told her I’d try and in the meantime, would she please stick her ears back on her head because she was bound to lose them and holding up flashcards whenever I needed to yell HELENA, CLEAN YOUR ROOM THIS INSTANT wasn’t my idea of a good time. It’s so much more fun to yell when someone can actually hear you.

From that morning on, Helena became physically incapable of having any kind of conversation that did not revolve around her cartilage.

Me: What does everyone want for dinner?

Nate: Don’t care.

Zoe: Italian chicken, garlic bread and salad.

Helena: My ears pierced.


Me: Hey peanut, how did school go today?

Helena: Horrible. I can’t see the board ‘cuz my ears aren’t pierced.


Me: Helena, are these jeans clean or dirty?

Helena: Where they on my floor?

Me: Yes. Why?

Helena: ‘Cuz if they’re on my floor, then that means I want my ears pierced. But if they’re on my bed, then that means I want my ears pierced.


I had no problems with Helena getting her ears pierced. Zoe had her ears pierced when she was four and I myself have had pierced ears for … let’s see, how old am I … oh, that’s right. FOREVER.

I tried to convince Nate, but it all fell on deaf ears. Deaf, unpierced, undefiled ears, to be precise.

Me: Nate, Helena really wants her ears pierced.

Nate: Negative.

Me: OK, can we agree to discuss this without resorting to Nate-isms?

Nate: Affirmative.

Me: I’m serious. Can we?

Nate: Negatory.

Me: Stop it.


Me: She really wants her ears pierced.

Nate: No.

Me: It’s all she’s wants for her birthday.

Nate: Don’t care.

Me: Zoe got hers pierced when she was four.

Nate: Don’t care.

Me: I got mine pierced a hundred years ago.

Nate: Doesn’t matter.

Me: How old were your sisters when they got theirs pierced?

Nate: Don’t know.

Me: Were they younger than ten?

Nate: Don’t remember.

Me: Did you develop an allergy to pronouns when I wasn’t looking?

Nate: Don’t think so.

Me: How about you throw one in there, every once in awhile, just to keep it interesting?

Nate: Maybe.

Me: Getting back to Helena …

Nate: No.

Me (yelling): You’re not a girl! You don’t understand!

Nate: Doesn’t matter.

Me (hollering): Girls get their ears pierced! It’s what we do! It’s our God given right! It’s in the Constitution or Bible or something like that!

Blink, blink, stare.

Me: OK, OK, maybe not, but …

Nate: She is too young. They’ll just get infected and it’ll all be for nothing. When she’s an adult, she can make an informed decision about her health and body. She is too young to be caring about what her ears look like anyway. She should care about the inside, not the outside. That’s all ear piercing is … vanity. If we allowed it, we’d be teaching her to be vain.

Me: And she doesn’t get that every time you hold up traffic to comb your hair?

Nate (defensively): That’s not true.

Me: Excuse me, have we met?

Nate: It doesn’t matter. The answer is still NO.

Me: Can we at least talk about it again?

Nate (resigned): Do I have a choice?

Me: Negative.

I worked on Nate non-stop for several weeks, going so far as to serve him a piece of meatloaf shaped into a reasonable facsimile of Helena’s head, complete with one pearl onion on each side. In the meantime, Helena busied herself by digging a pit of despair in our back yard.

Nate cried uncle a couple of days before Helena’s seventh birthday. So off to the mall we went.

Helena had no clue what was in store when we slowed down in front of Piercing Pagoda and casually asked her what she wanted more than anything in the world.

“A puppy!” she cried.

We stared at her.

“Try again” I urged.

“Ummm, a baby brother?” she guessed.

It was only when we turned her around to face the display case filled with hundreds of earrings that it dawned on her that her prayers had been answered, albeit in a different pecking order than she had let on for the previous FOREVER.

Helena surprised

Still, she was very happily shocked out of her mind.

I bet this is what I would look like if my kids ever did what I asked the first time I asked it. If I ever find out, I’ll let you know.

Helena choosing her earrings

I want this one … no, no, this one. Oh, can I have this one? How about this? Can I get two different kinds?  OK, OK, I want this one. No, no, no … wait … this one! Definitely this one!


Helena ready

I was not about to blow sunshine up my own daughter’s bottom. I did not mince words. I told her it was going to hurt. I told her it was OK to be scared and that she could leave at any time, that there was no shame in going home with ears looking exactly as they had that morning.

She just smiled and giggled.

And then she told me to put my big girl panties on and suck it up and stop being such a wussy baby.

Not really. But I bet she was thinking that. She’s just too polite to say it out loud. I raised her right.

Helena - second thoughts

At this moment, Helena was thinking that going home with naked ears wasn’t such a bad idea after all. At this moment, she was experiencing second, third and fourth thoughts. I gave her another chance to change her mind. But she’d sooner kiss a camel than change her mind.

You know what?

Pucker up, camel.

Because let me tell you, at this point, I’d have laid a big, sloppy, wet one on you if it meant she wouldn’t go through with it and she’d climb off that chair and go home with ear lobes naked as the day they were born. As much as I went to bat for Helena so that she could even have the opportunity to sit in that chair, the part of me that can’t bear to see my child in pain or nervous or scared was shrieking ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO LET HER DO THIS? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? FREAK.

Helena during the piercing

Cringe. Bite lip. Hold breath. Cringe. Bit lip harder. Squeeze eyes shut. Forget to breath. Cringe. Whimper.

Watching your daughter get her ears pierced is mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Helena trying not to cry

All done! My little sweetie. She did everything in her power to hold it together, but the tears came spilling over within seconds of taking this shot. I just didn’t have it in me to stick my camera in her face and document it for posterity.

Sorry, posterity. I do have limits. I’ll make out with a camel, but I’m not a complete, raving lunatic.

Just in case there was any doubt.

Helena getting hug from Daddy

Nothing calms down tears like a big, tight, squeeze from Daddy. I know, Helena. I love those big, tight, squeezes from Daddy too. They make the world a safer place.


Oh, I’m sure he was thinking it. I’d stake my Dansko shoes on it. But he didn’t say it. I raised him right too.

Well, not really, seeing as how I didn’t raise him at all. Because if I did, that would just be … weird. Blech.

Have I mentioned that I look upon my Dansko shoes as my third child? They’re kind of my favorite because they didn’t have to be yanked out of my uterus and they don’t leave dirty clothes on the family room floor.

Helena - all done!

Helena quickly recovered and then proved she was every inch my daughter by completely forgetting what had transpired thirty seconds before. I just knew she had my DNA somewhere in her little body.

I wish my DNA extended to her ears though, because whereas mine have been pierced for, let’s see … how old am I again? Oh, that’s right … ETERNITY, Helena’s only lasted two months before infection set in and the earrings were removed.

And I took the I told you so that came flying out of Nate’s mouth and I buried it in the backyard where it was never heard from again.

Helena is now perfectly happy to be running around with naked ear lobes and while I’m disappointed in the outcome, I’m looking on the bright side. Like, for instance, the very real likelihood that she won’t be waking up anytime soon, tossing her nose or eyebrow or tongue or lip or nipple or bellybutton or any other body part in my general direction, begging for them to be pierced.


Now if she wakes up before she’s an adult with her own health insurance and throws her ankle or lower back or boob or wrist or foot or some other body part in my general direction, begging for it to be tattooed, that will be another story entirely.

One that definitely has the potential of me french kissing a gangly, seven foot, two-toed, cud-chewing mammal that is prone to spitting.

And no, his name is not Nate.

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31 thoughts on “Once upon a time, there were a pair of naked ears …”

  1. Avatar

    This makes me very thankful that my mother pierced my ears when I was six months old and I can’t remember, nor was I capable of doing anything major to help them in getting infected.

    Thanks Mom! 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Oh we’ve so been there, done that. TWICE. We went through the “discussions with Daddy” where he just didn’t get it, then to the mall, then got the same infection, then took the earrings out, then let the holes close up. Two years later we did it all again, with success this time. We now have pretty happy holes.

  3. Avatar

    So glad my 8 year old hasn’t even thought of this yet! Of course, it helps that I don’t wear earrings.

    I got mine done at 12 and by 20 had developed an allergic reaction to almost all metals- probably due to cheap earrings. I can’t even wear my wedding ring unless the inside is well-coated with Rhodium.

  4. Avatar

    Oh, I remember when my girls were younger and got their ears pierced. It does sting some and there were tears, too. I am glad Helena had her daddy to hug when she needed it!


  5. Avatar

    OMG, I just went through almost the same thing (minus the Nate part – Mark was okay with it). Katy wanted her ears pierced for her 5th birthday and after changing her mind a dozen times, decided she really wanted it (I blame Karen for letting Lilly do it first). It’s been about 10-11 weeks and she keeps having problems with her ears – pus, blood, etc. Then she’s fine for a few days, then one of the other acts up again. But she won’t let me take them out and let them close up. She’d rather suffer through all the cleaning it up, etc. I wish she’d just let them close up, not like she ever wants to wear any but one pair of the dozen or so pairs of earrings she has! Sigh…

  6. Avatar

    That was great! 🙂 I was hoping for a happy ending though so I could use this as a shining example for my husband who much like Nate is 100% against the girls getting their ears pierced.

  7. Avatar

    This is just one of the MANY reasons I thank God on a daily basis that I have boys! LOL

    Visiting via the DST blog train!

  8. Avatar

    I’ve gone throught this with my daughter twice. First time she was 6. She counted down the days until she could remove her starter earrings and replace them with one of the dozen cool pair of earrings her Aunt bought for her. We took out the starter pair and she REFUSED to let me put in another pair. Needless to say, the holes closed up. Two years later, we did it again. Those got infected thanks to the stupid lady who pierced them. She apparently thought it would be good luck if she got a piece of Jenna’s hair wrapped around the post before she shot it into her ear lobe. Ever see projectile puss? Oh yeah, good times.

  9. Avatar

    What a great story…I was hooked, reading to the very end to see how it all ended! Well, I guess this is one of those live and learn lessons for her. I just know my daughter is gonna be discussing this with me soon enough..she already has a purse and shoe collection bigger than mine. I almost died one day when she asked me to put a temporary tatoo on her lower back, “just like Rhiannon”, who happens to be our babysitter. And my daughter just turned 4…yikes!!

  10. Avatar

    Hmmm i really don’t recall this event in my life. In the Philippines, we get pierced when we are still babies.

    Well it would be a memorable birthday for your pretty girl;)!

  11. Avatar

    OMG Great story and I love that you had enough foresight to bring the camera! I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it but you might try again (if she wants) with some hypoallergenic posts. I’m glad I stopped by, I’ll come by again!

  12. Avatar

    I just love your tales. I’m glad you chose not to blow sunshine up Helena’s butt (still laughing about that).

    I remember this day with my own Mom. It truly is special, and I’m glad you made sure to make it so for her. What a great Mom you are!

  13. Avatar

    My daughter was 14, and I only agreed to let her get her ears pierced because I was that age when mine were pierced. I also told her she herself had to turn the posts and clean her ears every single day, because if they got infected, she would have to let the holes close and never get pierced ears again until she was grown and left my house. So, she cleaned her ears. I think the criteria for when you pierce a child’s ears should be when they are responsible enough to clean their own ears.

    I told both my kids they would not be allowed to get tattoos until they are living away from my house and not accepting any money from me. I hope then that tattoos will be as fashionable as liesure suits…

  14. Avatar

    My father, like your husband, was very anti-any extra holes in any of his family’s body parts. My mom, who got her ears pierced after she and Dad were married, began working on him about the topic as soon as I, their first daughter (of three) was born. Before I was out of diapers, they’d come to a consensus: Ear piercing was going to begrudgingly allowed for our 13th birthdays. One hole per ear while we were under Dad’s roof, no more.

    Now, as the mother of a daughter myself, I can look right back to Grandpa for the family rule on ear piercing – that means I’ve got almost 8 more years to go before I have to listen to the pleas….

    Love the story and the pictures! Sorry her ears got infected, that is never fun!

  15. Avatar

    I was 8 months when I got my ears pierced. (Still have them 22 years later!) I have photos that prove that I didn’t cry. At first. I have a complete look of shock as they jab me. Then I scream.

    And kick.

    And thrash.

    I probably threw up too… but they didn’t take photos of that. The devils.

    When I was 12 I decided to get a second hole. My mom bought me a gift card for Christmas to get it done. I went. I saw them piercing a little girl. Who screamed.

    I went home with a new purse instead. Lol.

    But… when I was 16 I decided I had gotten over my fear of needles. I couldn’t handle piercing my ears a second time a few years earlier but now, for some odd reason, I was able to talk myself into piercing both my chin and my tongue.

    Yeah, I have no idea why. They lasted a grand total of 5 months (give or take) before I was bored with them and the complications they gave me (cleaning them… losing the balls… swallowing jewelry… eating the barbells…) and took them out.

    Cheers to my childhood. 🙂

  16. Avatar

    Oh wow, how people over anaylize these kinds of things. I honestly don’t remember when I got my ears pierced the first time, but I know I was about six. When I was 13, I got my nose pierced, and a few months after that, I got a second hole in my lobes pierced. And then a third, and then a fourth. But I did those two by myself. I did not get any sort of infection. After that, I got my lip pierced. Actually, that was about a month ago. I’m 14 now. I’m putting two more studs in my lip on the opposite side of the hoop pretty soon also. And for my 15th birthday (in a few months) I’m getting my tongue pierced. I still want a few more in the upper cartilage of my ears, but I’ll wait untill I have the money, or get the guts to do it myself as I have with other things. When I’m 16 I plan to get my navel pierced. I know, I know, people are wondering what kind of parents I have. Actually, my dad is dead, so it’s just my mom. But she lets me do it because I’m a good kid. I don’t do drugs, or have sex, or break the law, and having piercings isn’t going to change that. I believe piercings are just another form of expression, and saying you shouldn’t have them because of how they look is saying you should listen to other’s opinion on your appearence. I don’t agree with that. Besides, to state the obvious: piercings are not permenant. They will close up. It’s not the end of the world, it’s basically just a fashion statement, or a form of personal expression. And there is nothing wrong with that.

  17. Avatar

    Hey Andy,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, really 🙂 I got my ears pierced twice, first when I was in 5th grade, it was infected after 2 weeks? I did the same, asked, begged my mom to have my ears pierced. Unfortunately it didn’t last. The second time I got my ears pierced was when I was in junior high. I told myself I’d take care of it because I don’t want that ear infection again and that I don’t want to pay for another piercing session. 😉

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