raising girls part 3

March 22, 2012 |  Category:   life parenting

Mia got her ears pierced last Sunday. She had been asking about it for a year now, but I kept brushing her off thinking she was too young. I don’t remember when I got my ears pierced, but I know I was older so I assumed that she would be older too, but really…some things don’t really work that way these days. I came around to letting her get them pierced because she rarely asks for things persistently and she rarely wants something so bad and I thought surely my parents would back me up that she was too young, but neither of them batted an eye about it (they sure made me wait).

So how do you decide when your kid is old enough? I know they’re just tiny studs- and she won’t be wearing dangly earrings until she’s a teenager I’ve decided – but it’s more than that. Like some kind of rite of passage, the first of other similar milestones to come. Next up in 5 years or so she might ask to dye her hair or maybe she’ll want to start wearing lip gloss to school and god knows what else. But we’ve all been there. It’s how I ended up with 11 holes in my ears, most of them self inflicted and a few other piercings and purple hair (but no tattoos!), so it’s just funny how we find ourselves on the other side, often with the reactions of oh hell no. Now you’re acting like a parent.
Sometimes these girls want to grow up so fast. I think they look and act age appropriate for the age they’re at right now, but it might be a whole other story in a few years. Claudine is already saying that she can’t wait to be an adult so that she can be an artist – an artist who gets paid, as she argues when I tell her that she’s already an artist. She gets excited when she thinks about all the abundant supplies she’s going to buy with her own money. “I’m going to have 2 of everything so I never run out. 2 packs of crayons, 2 sets of markers, 2 sets of glitter paint…” (I always laugh when I think of the adult Claudine, a serious artist, creating art for sale with a pack of crayons). The two of them are always talking about what they’re going to do when they grow up and where they’re going to live.

We spend the early part of our lives wishing time would speed up and the latter part of our lives wishing it would slow way the hell down. Sometimes when I think about my mom being my age with an 18 year old (me) it freaks me out because I can’t imagine myself with an 18 year old. An 8 year old is almost bad enough because when I stop to think about it I can’t believe I have an 8 year old either. Then I realize that part of all this is a reaction because we’re aging right along with them. Maybe we try to hold on to our kids as long as we can because a small part of us is afraid to get old.

(btw, Claudine was not jealous of Mia’s earrings at all. Not one bit. She hung on to Mark while she tried not to watch while Mia got it done. Frankly, she was quite horrified by the whole thing).


You Might Also Like

  • Lara March 22, 2012 at 4:20 am

    Oh, I love it. I love the “PG” for playground and that of COURSE there’s the nail salon.

  • neta March 22, 2012 at 4:40 am

    I got lucky with great sales ladies.. the 1st time. my oldest wanted to get her ears pierced in 1st grade. we went to the store where they do that, and the lady there said to come back in the 3rd grade! so we went home, and came back in the 3rd grade 🙂 ( no questions asked or arguments! )
    2nd time, when she was 13, she wanted to buy eyeliner. since I don’t put on make up, i suggested we talk to the sales lady since I have no clue on what to buy. The sales lady started with a very long speech, on how she was way too young, and too pretty to need makeup at this age…so off we went without buying ! and suprisingly no arguments for my kid! it took her 4 more years to start experimenting with make up!
    yeah sales ladies !!!

  • Mau March 22, 2012 at 5:23 am

    My mum and I were just discussing the same thing!

  • lara March 22, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I’ve loved reading your posts for years now, but with a 10 month old daughter now, I’m reading these kinds of posts with even more interest..I love how frank you are about your changing attitude as a parent. I used to be the care-free spontaneous person in our relationship, and was really surprised at how much I changed when baby came into the picture…Thankfully, the overprotectiveness that came when she was first born has mellowed out, but I’m still different. Oh and I love seeing your daughters’ artwork. That ‘piece’ 🙂 by Claudine is incredible!

  • shalini March 22, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Interesting reading. I got my ears pierced somewhere around 7-8 age, but I’m considering getting it done for my 22 month old daughter sooner. Much sooner. It’s just the studs so it’s no more painful than an injection and they just look so adorable!

    But, I agree…kids and esp girls just grow up too fast these days. Am already imagining when she asks me for sandals with heels….all kids want them, right! And it just looks so funny to see kids wearing heels.

  • janine March 22, 2012 at 8:21 am

    My daughter is nearly 10 and has been asking for pierced ears for a long time. I don’t want her to. I say to her that it’s because she does so much gymnastics and trampolining but really I just don’t want her to because she just has the most beautiful ears (she really does, it’s not just because I’m her mum – my son’s ears are not so beautiful!). Her best friend is having her ears pierced next week for her 10th birthday. I am girding my loins for the tantrums!
    I don’t feel too controlling but maybe I am!

  • Jen March 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Jenna, I am terrified. I just ordered the American Girl book that talks about puberty for S. She will be 10 in a few weeks.

  • Kelly March 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

    so interesting to read this… especially since I and my sisters had our ears pierced as toddlers. it never occurred to me that it might be an adult thing to do. but i suppose it makes sense to wait until they are sure that is what they want, right?

    i love reading your daughters’ musings about their futures!

  • Meghann Chapman March 22, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I constantly struggle with the same things. Is she old enough? When will she be old enough for that? I just try to remember when I was little and saying the I’ll-never’s about parenthood. For that reason, I do try to take myself back and put myself in her shoes and thoughts when making decisions. I also try to keep the choose-your-battles idea in mind.

    I love the drawing. So sweet. And I agree: they are already artists. I tell mine to same thing. I just hope reformed education doesn’t teach them out of it.

  • Sophia March 22, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I’m carrying our first baby and the thoughts of bringing up children are slowly making their way into our life. We do have spontaneous conversations of what we’ll do in one situation or another, how we’ll deal with things. Some of them have to do with the near future and others seem appropriate for the years to come. I know already that I need to avoid the mistakes my parents did but at the same time I hope that I will be able to offer my child the unconditional love I received from them and still have as a grown-up.

  • Kiana March 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

    I don’t really know the big deal about getting one’s ears pierced because most baby girls I know have their ears pierced from birth. But I do remember shaving my legs for the first time when I was ten and plucking my eyebrows when I was 13. I don’t have a girl but I’m not sure when I would want her to cross these bridges into womanhood.

  • mari March 22, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Ha, I was wondering how Claudine would react; it’s great that she’s doing her own thing and doesn’t feel the need to copy EVERYthing that Mia does. Maybe she’ll be a little slower to get into all the teenage stuff since Mia’s already paved the way? God, I didn’t start shaving my legs and even wearing lip gloss til at least 16, but most girls “grew up” way before me. The growing up process freaked me out a lot more than my parents! I was in no rush.

    It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job with them. They seem so confident and interesting.

  • Kelsey March 22, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Not a parent yet but I am already envisioning going through these stages. It does feel like just yesterday I was begging my parents to let me go with friends who just got their drivers’ license (I wasn’t allowed to ride with any new drivers). Even now I’m horrified at thinking about the children I don’t have yet driving – let alone going with new drivers!

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag March 22, 2012 at 11:37 am


    I was really “old” when I got mine pierced — 16. I’ve told my 6 yr old daughter that she can have hers done when she’s 12. We’ll see if that sticks.

    Julia already has her “future husband” picked out — he’s in her Kindergarten class, and she is very excited to marry him someday, while continuing to live in our house….

  • Nina March 22, 2012 at 11:38 am

    My mom was adamant that I not get my ears pierced till I was out of her house. (it’s barbaric, she said) I got them pierced when I was sixteen and was able to hide them for about a week. 🙂

    I have boys so the anxiety about them growing up is still there, but it’s different. I try to keep them from the excess violence that boys seem to immerse themselves in and that seems to be a marker of masculinity.

  • Jane March 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I begged my mom to get my ears pierced when I was 8, because I went to a birthday party and was mortified to find that I was the only one without pierced ears. My sensible mother said no. So my father took me to get them pierced at the wig department of the local department store (which for some reason pierced ears too) while my mom was away at work. I was THRILLED – my dad got in serious trouble when my mom found out, but it totally bonded us – nothing makes an 8 year old happier than thinking that someone treats them like an adult 🙂 It also made me super motivated to take care of them, because I wanted to prove to my mom that she was wrong, and that I was old enough to have pierced ears!

  • julie ~ eab designs March 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Love your post today, as I can truly relate. I also have two daughters. It seems like yesterday that my 8 year old was the inspiring artist. Today she is in college majoring in graphic design and seeking her dream to land a NYC summer internship. It really does feel like she was just 8, and also asking to get her ears pierced. Enjoy every moment!

  • Darcy March 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    a great post! thank you!

  • Jen March 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I begged my mom to let me get my ears pierced and her rule was always that we had to be old enough to take care of them on our own. I was 11 when we were at Claire’s in the mall and she sprung it on me that I could get them pierced right then if I wanted to. Of course I freaked out at the thought, and my 8 year old sister was volunteering to do it in my place if I chickened out. But I did go through with it and she had to wait until she was 10. I got a few more piercings as a teenager, but now I am back to only the original 2. I think my mom would still have a heart attack if I got a tattoo (I am 26 years old!)

  • Cecilia Madden March 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    that picture is hilarious!
    your girls seem pretty precocious. it’s so sweet.
    as far as my little girl is concerned, i can’t even get her into a dress or a ponytail. i wonder if that will all change when she starts socializing with other kids and learns gender-specific things.

  • Ayetwobee March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I love this. I got my ears pierced when I was 8. I was a flower girl at my uncle’s wedding so it was for a special occasion. I took out the studs when they said I was allowed and could not bear to put new earrings in so they sealed back up and I didn’t get them pierced again until I was a teen.

    When I was 11 I snuck cheap lipstick to school and put it on in the bathroom at recess. The principal caught me and took it away. I never had a desire to mess with it after that until I was in high-school. I never dreamed of wearing a bra until I was in college!

  • Kim March 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    love the “adult artist claudine” and your thoughts on raising girls. thanks for posting that. i’ve got a 2 year old girl and wrestling over a spoon or a chocolate or some battle of wills sometimes i get a premonitionary flash of what it’ll be like in 10 years. I still remember so vividly being on the daughter end of the power struggles.

  • Pink Ronnie March 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    “We spend the early part of our lives wishing time would speed up and the latter part of our lives wishing it would slow way the hell down.” That is so true. It’s so weird to have kids and

  • Pink Ronnie March 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    (sorry, hit the submit buton accidentally – brain fail)

    know that they will soon be going through what we went through not so long ago (at least it feels that way anyway). Claudine seems like such a character – wish I could meet her somehow! 🙂 Love the photo and the drawing too.

    Ronnie xo

  • Anoosh March 23, 2012 at 5:13 am

    that artwork is awesome! I love hearing about your girls, thanks for sharing your sweet stories.

  • Amalia M March 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Funny cultural thing, here in Costa Rica, girls get their ears pierced right after they are born. Usually by the first month we all wear earrings.

  • Tina March 23, 2012 at 9:24 am

    My daughter is turning 9 next week and I told her I will bring her to the mall to get her ears pierced. She’s been asking for awhile so I relented. 9 seems to be a good age, not too young, not too old.

    My daughter, too, talks about what she’ll do when she gets older all the time. She’s already scouting places where she can work when she’s a teenager and she talks about how she’ll date “hot men” when she’s in her twenties. As if it’s that easy to get “hot men”.

    I’m right there with you about not wanting my kids to grow up too fast because the thought of how old I’ll be when they’re 18, terrifies me!

  • Shabnam March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I don’t know if getting ears pierced is a bigger deal here in America than it is overseas, but as a child growing up in the Middle East, me and my two sisters all got our ears pierced by the age of 6months. Now that I am older and my sister has her first child, I insisted she get her daughter’s ears pierced within the first 3 months of birth. She refused and I have a feeling that her American-born husband probably thought it was way too young to get the baby’s ears pierced. My sister did eventually get the baby’s ears pierced at 9months old. My niece barely cried and hasn’t had an issue with the earrings for the past 4 months that she’s had them pierced. The earrings have pretty much just become a part of her and she doesn’t even notice or touch them.

  • Caddy March 23, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Like Amalia M. mentioned I too got my ears pierced right after I was born, though I’m from the Philippines, not Costa Rica. Almost every single girl I went to school with got her ears pierced as at a young age as well.

    I remember reading a Bearenstein Bear picture book when I was around 2nd grade, I think it was called the “In Crowd” and Sister Bear tells her mom about Queenie McBear, a girl with pierced ears. I didn’t understand why Sister thought it was a big deal and had to have my mom explain to me that in other cultures girls get their ears pierced at a later age.

  • Nikki P March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Must be cultural, huh? I’m African-American. I got mine pierced in the hospital the day after I was born. Because of that, I’ve never given much thought to it. Hummm… Can someone explain why it may be inappropriate? I have a son but probably would have done the same thing if I’d had a girl.

    Now if my SON asks to get his ears pierced, that’s another story 🙂

  • janet March 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    In the latin culture, we tend to pierce ears in the first few months. I got my daughter’s done at 3 months. I don’t see a big deal with it. On the other hand, at 6, I don’t let her wear dark nail polish. Actually, she’s not allowed to wear polish to school. But come Friday, she can’t wait for me to paint her nails. She already knows that by Sunday night, it needs to come off. I guess I pick and choose what I feel is appropriate for her age.

  • anna March 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Loved this post. I think it’s an important thing to have the girls choose whether or not they piece their ears. It’ll help them get used to making decisions later in life.

  • A March 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I have an Italian background and babies get their ears pierced within a few months of birth, so that is exactly what I did with my daughter. The plus side of this is that the children are too young to be afraid of getting it done, and so it is done without incident. It is quite interesting reading the different opinions on ear piercing.

  • Patricia March 23, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I, too, imagine the day when my daughter will ask to have her ears pierced. I had them pierced when I was twelve, but like your daughter I doubt she’ll wait that long. These are the sweet fine days of raising little girls.

  • Nancy March 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I had my ears pierced when I was 5, on a daddy date to the mall. Interestingly enough, my dad was the one to take all four of his daughters to get their ears pierced. I am not 100% confident that early piercing can be chalked up to culture. I have a Jewish girlfriend (I’m Jewish, too) who had her girls’ ears pierced when they were babies and she is always on my case about having my own girls’ ears pierced but I’ve decided to continue my dad’s tradition and have my husband take them to get their ears pierced when they ask for them.

  • gina March 24, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Ear piercing seems so benign comparatively speaking… my daughter began the ear piercing chant from the time of pre-school. By the time she was five I relented as an appeasement for her not going with her brothers and dad on a spring break trip (to watch spring training games in Arizona) and because I thought she would never go through with it. Wrong was I. Fourteen years later I can say that the ear piercing at five was not a foreshadowing of anything untoward or unwanted. I think it’s best not to over think these sorts of things. ;^)

  • Rosa March 25, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I’m from South America and ear-piercing is done at the hospital after girls were born, like Amalia and many others said.
    I think a rite of passage is when girls are having their menarche (first period), then everything changes for them and for their mothers, Jenna. That’s the milestone.
    Nice pic btw!

  • jodi March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    my pediatrician asks me every time we take the baby in if we want to have her ears pierced. i always say no, but i asked why he always asks. he said that if you’re going to have it done, he’d rather it be done in the office than at some random mall kiosk. i’m totally in the wait until pre-teen age camp. i distinctly remember getting my ears pierced for my birthday when i was in 4th grade.

  • Lucia March 26, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Jenna, love your blog..I don’t have kids though.
    I wanted to tell you that in some countries like mine (Peru, and I guess in ALL South America), we get our ears pierced the FIRST DAY we are born!!!!!! Our mothers (or earring-godmother) make the holes with tiny gold studs to avoid infection. We love earrings, I don’t understand the problem with it, sometimes I overhear mothers talking about it like it is a problem but I never understand. Also in some families like mine the first milk teeth are made into little dangly earrings, so you see in some cultures just part of life, I will never be in the street without earrings.
    Mia is going look even prettier with earrings!

  • Sam March 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Completely the opposite from most, I REALLY did not want my ears pierced at all. I was forced to by my mum when I was around 7ish because I kept getting mistaken for a boy when we lived in a west african country. I was very tom-boyish growing up and hated the look of earrings. I didn’t wear earrings for years once I was around 14ish I got rid of them but the holes never closed up. I’m now 28 and have sorta accepted them… I still hate dangly earrings.

  • Jenna March 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I love all these different stories and opinions on ear piercing. It’s so interesting, thank you!

  • Frau Haselmayer March 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I got my ears pierced when I was 16 and I almost fainted. Ha, looking back it seems almost rediculous but back then I was terribly scared (I’m still scared of needles and injections) so I’m totally with Claudine… Here in Germany it’s also quite common to have baby girls get their ers pierced within the first few months after birth. But it’s not really a traditional or cultural thing and I never understood it. I think it’s up to the kid to decide on their own…

    I remember very well the discussions I had with my mother about dyeing my hair in my teenage years. She didn’t allow chemical hair dye for years so I had to dye my hair with henna…ugh, I hated it!

  • plum March 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Fast talking saleslady talked me into it when i was 12, wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Mum was not pleased, then went to get hers done not long after. I loved being able to wear wacky earrings (80s!). It made me feel like such a rebel. Now I’m a mum, shall appeal to her vanity as to why she should wait – my ear lobes grew and I hate how high the earring sits. I just hope it will only ever be about pierced ears…

  • bronwyn March 28, 2012 at 9:40 am

    My 5 year old is adamant that she never wants holes in her ears. She will wear clip-ons thankyouverymuch so I haven’t really thought about when I will let her if she wants. I kind of think she won’t want them until well after an age I’m ok with. I think I was about 9 when I got mine pierced and I felt very grown up. For things like make up and hair dye, I have 13 in mind. Let’s see if that sticks. She told me that she wants to dye her hair pink when she grows up! Like really grown up. She thinks 13 is too young for pink hair. 🙂 I let her wear nail polish now and all manner of jewelery and accessories – she loves to pile them on.

    I am starting to notice the desire to be older. She recently said “I’m kind of like a teenager because I am so grown up. I’m like a 5 year old teenager.” But she also wants to live with us forever and never wants kids so that she can always be my “baby”. And she always wants reassurance that she won’t be grown up for a very long time.

  • hyzen March 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I wanted my ears pierced when I was Mia’s age, and my mom told me the same thing her mom told her when she was a girl and wanted piercings–“If God wanted more holes in your head, he would’ve put them there.” I was annoyed at the time, but you know, my mom never did end up getting her ears pierced, and neither did I. No judgment for those girls that get it done, but I’m glad for my untouched lobes now. I’ll tell my daughter the same thing when she gets a bit older and asks, and let her wait until closer to adulthood to see if she still thinks she wants extra holes in her head to hang jewelry from. I can’t imagine having pierced her ears as a baby–she looks so beautiful and sweet and pure and just perfect au naturale.

  • Claudia Guerreiro April 1, 2012 at 12:59 am

    i totally remember getting my ears pierced because it was such a “big girl” moment for me. i was 9 and i too had been asking my mom for about a year. i was so excited. now i have a daughter and i chose to not get her ears pierced at birth because i too want her to have that big girl moment. although for her, that might not be her first girl moment….

  • Amy April 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I don’t even remember getting my ears pierced – I was maybe 2, and my mom had both of my ears done at the exact same time! All the girls in kindergarten were jealous of my heart studs, but I really wanted those stick on jewel earrings they all wore! I remember a trip to Europe in high school when half the girls in my group got just about everything pierced (this was the 90s) because in France you didn’t need to be 18 and their parents would let them get anything pierced, other than their ear lobes. Several eyebrows, noses, tongues and navels were sore for the rest of the trip. I had second holes in my ears by then and thought it was silly to spend time taking care of a piercing when they could be exploring (or swimming). My parents were so hands off, and I’m so tightly wound that their approach worked -I didn’t start wearing makeup until 16, and then it was just mascara and lip gloss- and I wonder how I’ll handle it all with my children.