“Mommy?” Bugaboo stands on tip-toes, head back so her nose just barely peaks over the edge of my jewelry box on the dresser. She reaches in and picks up a long, dangly earring, the kind I haven’t worn in years. She grasps it by the hook and holds it up; dropping back on her heels she twists it between a chubby thumb and pointer, and watches as the light makes it sparkle.
I smile and remember doing the same in my mother’s room. I remember the marvel I felt running my fingers across her jewels, how little it mattered that most were fake, the fake ones sparkled best. I remember the desire I felt as I held each bangle to my own neck or ear, how in my mind those treasures could at once transform me from girl to woman.
“Mommy?” Bugaboo questions, an earring held to each lobe, “Can I get my ears pierced?”
“Some day,” I answer, I return the earrings to the box and pull out the sheet of stick-on ones we bought together at Claire’s. I brush back her hair and gently press one onto each unmarred lobe. Immediately her shoulders square and her chin lifts; she shakes back her curls and slowly turns her head side-to-side admiring her new look.
Watching her I know these earrings have a power far beyond adornment. And I understand more fully, perhaps for the first time, what my parents meant when they told me ear-piercing was a rite of passage, something they reserved for my adolescence. Until then, I always believed my folks put too much importance on those little holes; their rule seemed excessive and outlandish, but watching Bug I see, like lipstick and high heels, shaved legs and pantyhose, the rite is less about the small physical change and more about the internal one. It is an invitation for a girl to move from mimicking and pretending womanhood to participating in it. Such an invitation should be neither offered nor accepted lightly.
“How old do I have to be?” She prods. “Maybe on my birthday, when I turn six? Some girls in my class already have theirs pierced!”
I don’t have an answer for her question, or her assertion. I know some parents are more permissive on this issue than I’m inclined to be, and I also know she won’t get her ears pierced when she’s six. What I don’t know is what age will feel appropriate.
What do you think? Grab a cup of coffee and chat with me in the comments section below!
At what age did you let or will you let your girl pierce her ears? Why then? Do you view it as a rite of passage? Am I over-thinking it?
I’d love to know your opinion! Let me know in the comments section, and I’ll respond as soon as I can!
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