I got my ears pierced when I was 11 (my sister got hers pierced when she was 10, which is part of the overall injustice of being the oldest, which M claims I do not understand, but I do).
I am shocked that I don't remember where I got my ears pierced, because supposedly I remember everything, but I do remember that my mom's friend P did it with me, and I think it was in a jewelry store at the mall, a real one (jewelry store, not mall), and I believe they did both my ears at once, but maybe not. Perhaps my mother remembers, because she was there too, though usually she counts on me to do the remembering.
Those were the first piercings: the neat ones in the proper middle of my lobes.
I started piercing my own ears somewhere around the time I started cutting my own hair, several years later.
Piercing my own ears involved alcohol, a flame, a needle, and an earring. I believe I generally pierced my ears when I was angry; I cut my hair when it got too long. Putting the needle through my ear was easy, as was getting the earring into the front part of the hole; the hard part was getting it out the back. I'll spare you the details.
I don't think my piercings ever got infected, which seems miraculous, given the previous paragraph.
When I was in India in 1990, all the white girls had pierced noses, which I knew would come out as soon as they returned to Oberlin and Birmingham and Sydney, and I refused to go there (though I will admit that I sometimes wore a bindi, but only when my Indian friends put one on me). When body piercing became the thing, a year or two after I returned, I still demurred, thinking of those ridiculous white girls.
The fact that I have five piercings, all in my ears, seems to perfectly sum up my cultural status. To the far mainstream, I am edgy, but given the vast numbers of people I know with piercings every which where, I find myself ridiculously staid.
In the ear with three holes, the top two are silver studs. In the ear with two holes, the top one is a tiny silver ring. I never change those three.
I only wear silver earrings, which is to say I don't wear gold, though I have earrings of plastic, stone, paper, wire, ceramic, fused glass, bead, and many varieties of silver and gemstone.
When M was a baby, I considered piercing her ears, because I think babies with pierced ears are adorable. Then I realized that by piercing her ears, I would deprive myself of an easy yes, so I demurred.
From the age of four months, M sucked the first two fingers on her left hand incessantly. Several years later, I told her that she could get her ears pierced when she was eight, if she stopped sucking her fingers.
M turned eight, avidly sucking her fingers.
In the ensuing years, though we never thought it would happen, M gradually stopped sucking her fingers, except when she is asleep, which is good enough for me. I offered pierced ears several times, but she demurred.
For the last year or two, E has been obsessed with clip-on earrings.
Clip-on earrings hardly exist today. Stick-on earrings do not stay stuck. Last week, E got magnetic earrings, but they pinched, and then she took them to school, with a little box to keep them safe if they pinched and she needed to take them off. When her grandmother arrived to pick her up, she took the earrings out of the box to show her, dropped them, and couldn't find them. She found them a few days later, in the playground, in pieces, magnets gone. How this all happened, we have no idea.
A future of magnetic earrings seemed to bode only heartbreak.
E's birthday is imminent. I suggested pierced ears. E leapt at the chance. M begrudgingly agreed that it was time.
These days, the only piercing options seem to be Claire's and tattoo parlors. We opted for Claire's. We decided that M would go first, because we thought she was more likely to bail. We asked if they could do both ears at once, and they could. We picked out silver balls for M and December birthstones (sparkly and blue) for E.
M sat in the chair, closed her eyes, and they were done. It hurt less than she thought.
E sat in the chair, clutching Fifi, her bear, and cringed. We told her to close her eyes. She kept her eyes open, cringed, shrugged her shoulders up to her ears, and clutched Fifi. She said she didn't want to do it. I told her I wouldn't make her do it, but I knew she wanted to, and she would be sad if she didn't.
It was an odd moment. I don't generally push my children past their comfort levels, and I certainly didn't care if she pierced her ears, and by this point she was weeping and insisting that she didn't want to. But I knew she did.
When she ran across the store, I decided it was time for a break. We went to the food court and had a snack and didn't discuss piercing. When we were done, E said she didn't want to do it. I said that was fine, but if she didn't do it now, she couldn't do it till she turned nine. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment parental rule-making events. She said OK, she'd do it, and we marched back to Claire's.
Back on the chair, sitting in my lap, she started again with the shrugging and cringing and saying she couldn't. I asked if I could hold her and they said yes. So I stood up and held her in my arms, facing me. She buried her face in my face, they counted to three, and it was done.
Written out like this, it sounds totally brutal, but as soon as E realized they were done, she jumped down from my arms, ran to the mirror, and started prancing about, displaying her new earrings. Then she had me take a picture of her with my phone and sent it to S, with a text message saying "I got my ears pierced!"
Now everyone is all about the newly-pierced ears, and the family has almost doubled its piercings, but not quite.