I have three girls (nine, six, and two). In the Indian culture, girls get their ear pierced as babies. My entry into the world of pierced ears was when I was one year old. My aunt, who is a doctor, pierced my ears on my parents’ kitchen table. I only know this because my older cousin always told me how he got me to stop crying by offering me a candy bar. My entire extended family was there for the event. It was a big deal. But for some reason, when I had daughters of my own, I didn’t put the same priority into piercing their ears.
My oldest daughter got her ears pierced when she was 5 and it was a pretty seamless process. My middle daughter was a whole other story. She got her ears pierced when she was 3 and it was a disaster. The whole process was traumatizing. It was done at the mall. Her ears hurt long after they were pierced, one of her ears got infected, there was a lot crying, and ultimately, she ended up wanting to let them close. Her ears quickly healed, but I was permanently scarred. I swore I would never pierce her ears again until she was ready.
Fast forward 3 years and she is now six. For the past year she has been hinting that she wants earrings. She is ready. I am not. I can’t think about her going through that pain again. I can’t bear the thought of watching her hurt. I keep coming up with excuses for her not to do it, but she is ready. I finally give in, but I can’t go with her. I send my husband and her older sister. I tell them that they can’t go to the mall. She will get her ears pierced at a professional piercing studio that uses needles. The first studio turns my husband and daughters away. Their minimum age is ten, but they recommend another studio. It is highly recommended, their reviews are great, and they have an opening. The stars are aligning for my daughter. For me the world feels like it has just stopped turning. As my husband and daughters head to the next studio, I wait for updates. I pace back and forth. I make chocolate chip cookies. The minutes tick by with no update. Finally, after what seems like hours, I hear the garage door open. My daughter comes running up the stairs with the biggest smile on her face and two blue flower studs in her ears. She did it. She endured the pain to obtain the ultimate prize: earrings. She was a Rockstar through it all.
My husband later told me that the woman who pierced her ears thanked my daughter for letting her be part of her first step into womanhood. At first, I laughed, but then realized this was a big deal. Pierced ears are a part of her Indian culture. They give us one more thing in common. And as the woman who pierced her ears stated it is another step into her growing up. It was a step I missed because I was too scared to see her in pain. I didn’t believe in her resilience and bravery to endure the pain to achieve her goal. I underestimated my daughter, but thankfully she never underestimated herself. I have a lot to learn from my six-year old.