“Let me ask you something, ” my visually challenged, 86 year old mother said to me while she was visiting. “Does Shannon have something stuck in her belly button?”
“Why, yes, mother, she does,” was my reply. “No, it is not multi-colored lint stuck in there; it is a belly button ring.”
She looked at me puzzled. She blinked several times and looked at me. “They make those things?” she finally asked.
“They do.” I responded. “They are…”fashionable.””
“How do they do it? With a needle?” she winced.
“They make a hole in your belly button and insert the jewelry into the hole,” I said, trying to explain the process but knowing all the while the words sounded ludicrous coming out of my mouth. I knew what was next…
“Why would anyone want one?” she asked incredulously.
“I told you, Mom,” I explained. “Kids like them for fashion reasons.” I then prepped myself for her next query…
“You LET her do that?” she asked.
Ah, there it was; the question I had been anticipating. “Yes, I did, Mom.” I said it as if I was back in high school and I just gotten in trouble for coming home late. Some things you never outgrow–being called on the carpet for your decisions by your parent must be one of those things…
She shook her head in disgust, just like my grandmother used to do when my mother got called on the carpet for something I did that my grandmother didn’t approve of. I vividly recall an exchange between my grandmother and my mother when I was 14. My grandmother was convinced that I couldn’t have been a virgin at age 14 because my mother let me use tampons. Wow have times changed!
After my flashback to the 1980’s, I used my most grown up voice to try to explain my decision to let Shannon have a piercing.
“Well Mother,” I began, “while I recognize that having piercings may seem distasteful to you, I look at it as a compromise. Shannon may have holes all throughout her body, if she chooses, as long as she maintains good grades in school and holds a job. If she can handle responsibilities, then a hole or two is no big deal in my book. Piercings are not permanent, like tattoos, and eventually, she will tire of them and they can just heal and close up.” I rationalized the heck out of that one–it even felt like high school all over again!
“Well,” she replied, “I don’t like it. What happens if it gets infected?”
“That is one of the consequences Shannon will have to address if it happens. She is responsible for keeping it clean,” I told her. “I think it’s good that it comes with an ongoing responsibility,” I rationalized some more.
“Yeah well, what are these kids thinking, poking holes all over themselves?” she thought out loud.
“Don’t be a hater, Ma,” I laughed. “You’re just jealous because you know you want your belly button pierced.”
“Oh no,” she said as she walked into the other room. “But maybe a tattoo,” she winked.