Friday, December 6, 2013

Coming of age - I must be doing something right.

When I was a kid, I always wanted my ears pierced.  I wanted to be fancy and wear fancy sparkly earrings just like the big girls.  I was SOOOOO jealous of everyone and their pierced ears.  After months of begging, my mom told me that I had to wait until I was 10 and then I could get them pierced for my golden birthday, when I would be old enough to make sure I take proper care of my ears while they heal.  Lemme tell you, 10 could NOT come fast enough!

On the big day, mom and Grandma took me to the local mall jewelry shop and I picked out beginner studs that were gold with an opal colored stone.  Then I closed my eyes and held my breath as two girls with piercing guns stood on each side of me and pulled the triggers.  The adrenaline rush  was more powerful than the pain from shooting 2 fairly blunt objects through my virgin lobes and I didn't really feel any pain at all until I started to come off my high and realized my ears were red hot.  The next 6 weeks were spent putting Q-tips dipped in peroxide on my ears, and twisting my earrings clockwise 2 times on even days, and counter-clockwise on odd days, and asking mom when I could take these out and start wearing all sorts of earrings.

That was 28 years ago, and now I have 2 young daughters of my own.  When they began asking to get their ears pierced, it was easy for me to tell them they had to wait until they were 10 since that's how old I had to be.  I gave them the speech about being responsible enough to take care of their ears themselves and yadda yadda, but mostly I told them they had to wait because I just felt like it.  In January 2013, my eldest daughter "10" hit the magic age.  I told her I'd take her to get them pierced, but only by a real piercer (piercing guns really need to be banned).  She was pretty hesitant because of the pain aspect.  I told her there was no need to rush and that if she ever decided she wanted them done in the future, I would take her.

In the last few months, she has been bringing it up more and more.  Since they only had a half-day of school today, I decided to surprise her and take her to get it done while I get mine redone.  She squealed with excitement and burst into happy tears.  I can only imagine my little girl had the same look of excitement on her face that I did so many years ago.  While she was jumping for joy, her younger sister "9" slumped a little, focused her eyes on the ground, and quietly wiped her tears away.   She knew she wasn't old enough yet and she was jealous, but accepting.  She handled the news like a champ, albeit a sad little champ.  She knew she'd get to follow in big sister's footsteps in June, so she sucked it up and moved on with her night.  On the drive home, I began thinking about how 9's birthday is at the end of June and how that's prime swimming season and how fresh piercings and swimming don't make a great match.  9 wouldn't be able to get her ears pierced until September if she wanted to swim this summer.  What a crappy dilemma.  I decided to let it go and cross that bridge when we need to.

Once we got home, the coolest thing happened.  It started with a quiet conversation between me and 10.

Me: Would you  be ok with me letting 9 get her ears pierced tomorrow too, or no?
10: Why?  She's not old enough yet.
Me: If you want to have big sister privileges and make her wait, I totally understand and that's ok.  I was just thinking that with as much swimming as we do in the summer, 9 probably shouldn't get her ears pierced until September.
10:  Mom, that will really make her sad.
Me: Yeah, but that's ok.  She's waited this long, she can wait a little longer.  That's why I thought I'd ask you.  I don't want to take away from your special day of getting your ears pierced.

10 looked at me, looked in her sister's direction, looked back at me with teary eyes and said: I don't want her to be sad.  I think we should let her do it.  It's ok to share my special day with my sister.  She'll be so happy.  It'll be like 2 special days in 1!

My little girl is growing up.  She was mindful of her sister's happiness and put aside her opportunity to gloat and torture her sister for a few more months, and did what she felt was right.  She was showing love to the little sister she normally torments.

After this conversation, I explained the whole thought process to 9.  As I was talking, it was killing her to not interrupt me and ask if she was getting her ears pierced too.  She was balling up her little fists to keep her focused and quiet.  She knows I don't like to be interrupted and was probably a little too afraid to hope for the best since I am a stickler for sticking to my word once I've given it.  After what probably felt like an eternity to her, I broke the news that since her big sister was willing to share her special day, she too, would be getting her ears pierced.  She burst into tears, hugged me, and nearly collapsed on her sister's lap.  She was so grateful and so excited.  She knew how special it was that 10 was conceding and was doing it of her own free will.

Perhaps the only thing stronger than a sister's love, is the love a mother feels when she watches her children show love to each other in their own special way.  I am so grateful.