Rite of passage

“Mommy, I’m ready to get my ears pierced.”

Holy shit! This is a big deal! The whole ear piercing thing has been hanging over her head for years. We have had several discussions about it, always ending with the same result, “Thanks, but no thanks Mom.”

There is no pressure coming from me. I could care less if she gets her ears pierced or not. I still have a very real case of PTSD from when I got mine done as a child. From what I remember, it was the exact opposite of a pleasant experience.

I wish I would’ve asked more questions. Namely, “Does it hurt?” I’m not sure how I thought that blunted piece of metal was actually going to get into my ear, but I can assure you that it did not involve a makeshift plastic gun and more importantly, pain. Unfortunately, getting them done at the same time was not an option for me. That would’ve been very helpful in my case.

The details are a bit sketchy, but apparently .3 seconds after the first shot, I began bouncing around the room like a rabid orangutan, foaming at the mouth, and screaming as no mammal before or after has ever screamed. There was no reasoning with me. I was under attack and in full combat mode. My mom had no choice but to call in the most intimidating person on the face of the planet. My dad. He walked in the door, the screaming stopped immediately, I got the second ear done, and went home in an absolute state of delirium and shock. No one likes a quitter, right Dad? Thanks for the life lesson.

Given my personal history, I was bound and determined to make this experience for my daughter as pleasant as possible, given the obvious “pain” component. I told her it hurts. She was prepared, yet extremely nervous. So off we went to the mall, sweaty palms and all.

What I was not anticipating was the shit show that followed. Picture this. My very anxious 8 year old daughter sitting patiently in the chair while “The Piercer” prepped her station. Of course I ask the obvious question, “Can she get them both done at the same time?” To which the lady replies with an eye roll, “Oh, she wants them both done at the same time?” Is there an echo in here?

Really? I mean unless you have a certain inkling for torture and pain, who wouldn’t choose this option? I roll my eyes back at her while trying to keep a positive tone for the sake of my petrified daughter and respond, “Yes, please (bitch).”

She rolls her eyes again and makes a hand gesture to the other employee, who promptly disappears into the back room, only to reappear again with her jacket on, ear to her cell phone, and purse over her shoulder. “I’ll be back in five minutes.”

“She’ll be back in five minutes.”

“Yeah, I heard her. I’m standing right here (eye roll #4).”

I watch this young lady walk out of the store without a care in the world, pulling out a cigarette from her purse as she makes her way to the mall exit. Seriously? Did we cause this much stress? I mean, this is the correct store, right? You have a sign in the window and everything. And here’s some food for thought, my daughter’s face doesn’t always resemble the main character from the movie “Powder.” She is scared shitless right now. Are you seriously going to make her sit here and wait for your friend out there who just decided the very moment we walked into this store that her job was too unbelievably stressful to handle without another smoke? (There is no one else in the store. It is not Christmas season. It is the middle of the afternoon…on a fucking weekday in May.) I am seriously tempted to follow her outside with my 8 year old daughter and ask if we can both bum a smoke. Marlboro Reds are usually not our cigarette of choice, but this is a special occasion, right? It is obvious that we are all stressed here. Let’s calm down together. Although I don’t have a lighter on me, we can rub these two sticks together in an effort to produce a spark. It might take a while, but clearly no one is in a hurry.

Five minutes comes and goes at least four times, until the final piece of the puzzle finally walks back into the mall, but not the store. Nope. She’s not done with her very important phone call yet. She sits on the bench directly outside the store window and faces us, but of course doesn’t make eye contact. She is obviously trying to prove a point, or maybe she has a death wish. Whatever the case, she is five more minutes away from something really bad going down.

My alter ego has arrived with a vengeance and I have lost all muscle control from the neck up. I can feel my facial musculature switching rapidly between a caring mother’s expression (“Isn’t this fun honey? I am so proud of you.”) to the “I am seriously going to kick your ass” glare that I am giving the woman on the bench. Yes, I am still looking at you. And don’t misinterpret the creepy forced smile on my face. It is not meant for you, but for my daughter who is now clearly more concerned with what the hell is going on with her mommy’s face than she is about the whole ear piercing thing.

Here is the sad truth. My daughter sat in that chair for 30 minutes for a procedure that took less than 30 seconds. It was touch and go for a moment when they had to count backwards from three together, but alas, they were able to pull it off in the end. Their mothers should be so proud.

As we walk out of the store, my daughter grabs my hand and says in the sweetest and most sincere voice possible, “Thank you so much mommy. I really really appreciate it.”

I don’t know if she was thanking me for letting her get her ears pierced or for not ending up in jail. I decide not to ask.

“You’re welcome honey. They look beautiful. Mommy’s going to have a really big glass of wine when we get home to celebrate.”

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