My husband is a reactionary, emotional; the glass is half empty kind of guy. I love him immensely because he is funny, articulate and unafraid to tackle anything that comes along. I on the other hand am a glass half full kind of gal. I’m always trying to see the blessing or bright side in all that happens. Bringing me back around to why I write this story.

From the time my daughter Emily was seven, she’d been around friends that had brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers that were tattooed or pierced in one way or another. Kids being kids, they only saw the coolness or wow factor, not the underlying meaning we tainted old folk know it to be.

So when my daughter’s longtime friend had her tongue pierced at 13, Emily and I were there with her for moral support. Although I kept a running commentary on why she shouldn’t do it, addressing all the health and social implications and stigmas attached to having a tongue piercing, blah, blah, blah, she did it anyway.

Her mother saw no real problem and actually encouraged her to do it! This really gave me new insight into her mother and her mother’s psyche. That and other issues are stories unto themselves. I leave that for maybe another time.

I’ll never forget how my daughter’s mouth flew open and she grabbed her stomach when the needle was pushed through Victoria’s tongue. Tears were streaming down Victoria’s face as her tongue proceeded to swell up like a balloon. Poor Emily was rocking back and forth chanting, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.” I wasn’t quite sure which girl I needed to comfort first.

Victoria's mother, who had paid for the piercing and had encouraged her, did not go with her to have the dastardly deed done. She was conspicuously absent. Thirteen, she’s still a baby. All I kept thinking was that I never even had my ears pierced until I was twenty-one. I’ve been around people who have had multiple piercings and/or tattoos my whole life, yet I have never had the desire to have a tattoo or get my face punctured, or any other part of my body for that matter. My thinking is this….if it hurts when I bump it, why would I want to put a hole through it?

My daughter asked if she could get a second piercing in her ear. We kept telling her no, no, no on extra piercings in her ear, or extra piercings period, anywhere on her body. Finally my husband caved and she had a second ear piercing. Of course it was accompanied by the old standby, regarding all other piercings or tattoos. “Not while you’re under my roof. Not as long as I’m your dad. Blah, blah, blah.”

Last year Emily went away to college and soon after turned 18. I remember like it was yesterday.

“I’m 18. I’m an adult now. You don’t need to baby me.”

Followed soon after by a phone call at 1:00 in the morning.

“Mommy, I don’t feel well. I’ve been throwing up. Help me Mommy.”

Well, so much for the, I’m an adult argument. I digress, back to my glass half full mentality. One day while I was working, I get a phone call and out of my daughter’s mouth come the words every parent dreads.

“You’re not going to be happy with me when I tell you this.”

My chest becomes tight and my heart starts pounding. I tell her I will call her back when I go to lunch so we can talk privately. When I call her back, she suddenly becomes sheepish and child-like.

“Hi, Mommy.”

Of course I get even more nervous as I wonder just how bad can this news possibly be. Our dialog went something like this……

“Are you pregnant?”

“No, I haven’t had sex. Are you crazy?”

“YES!!” I think to myself—“Thank you Jesus.”

“Have you been arrested?”


“Are you taking drugs or have you started drinking?”

“No Mom. Good grief. What are you thinking?”

“Have you been kicked off the track team?”

“No Mom.”

“Ok, let me get this straight. You haven’t had sex. You’re not pregnant. You aren’t taking drugs or drinking and you haven’t been arrested. You’re still on the team and you haven’t flunked out, so what am I going to be upset about hearing? Are you a lesbian?"

“God no Mom! I had my tongue pierced.”

“WHAT?!?! “ I exclaim and ask at the same time. Secretly I was relieved. Not happy, by a long shot now mind you, but of all the possibilities, it was the lesser of all the evils.

I gave her the traditional “MOM” lecture. Why didn’t she wait and think it through more? What was she thinking? Why the rush? Does she understand the social stigma with having her tongue pierced and what people will assume? She responds that she had thought of everything but the social stigma, when she decided to do it. She only thought of how cool it looked. Not what people would think or how it could be misinterpreted.

She asked if I was going to tell her dad. I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, hell no.” I wasn’t about to put myself out there for the backlash I knew would ensue.

“You keep saying you’re an adult, so be one. You tell your dad and take the heat and the fallout.”

“I’ll do it when I come home for Christmas break. That way I can do it in person.”

“Ok, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be.”

“Oh, Mom.”

My husband and I drove to Arizona in December, picked Emily up at my sister’s house and brought her home for her six week break. She was wearing a clear tongue ring and he didn’t notice. All of her cousins noticed at once, because she had a green one in just before we got there and were all sworn to secrecy. They complied and kept watching my husband, secretly hoping for early fireworks. When we left they were disappointed.

Shortly after we arrived home the clear tongue ring broke. My daughter was resigned to wearing a green one. My friend at work said it looked like she had a green M & M stuck on her tongue. Ok, so now I’m really waiting for the inevitable fireworks. They never came, because she kept her head pointed down when talking to her dad and so she decided not to tell him. She went back to school and he didn’t know.

School got out really early, and so back to Arizona I go in May to pick her up. It was just before Mother’s day. I was giving myself the best gift ever. I would have my daughter home again. At least until school starts again after the summer break. Of course I brought back a van full of all her belongings, as well as all of her dirty laundry.

Now her anxiety is starting to skyrocket. She is leaving all her new friends, and she only has a green, a pink and dice tongue rings. She couldn’t face her dad without a clear one and besides, she needs a clear one for her job interview the next morning.

I caved. What can I say? I’m a mom. We went to “Hot Topic” and got a clear ring. Reason one-yes, of course, because of her dad and reason two-because of the job interview. For the last few weeks all has been peaceful in my world. That is until yesterday.

It finally happened……..My husband noticed the ring. The clear one had broken (again), so she was resigned to wearing a pale pink one. Being ever so vigilant about possible discovery, she was taken aback when he said, “Stick out your tongue.”

She stood there with the deer in the headlights look on her face. Frozen. Unable to speak or move.

“I said, Stick out your tongue!”

This time Emily complied, and he turned, red faced, unable to speak and went into the house. By the time I came home from work, I wanted to turn around and leave again. He was inside the house and she was sitting on the porch swing. Neither of them attempting to speak to each other for over two hours.

“Have your daughter come inside. We need to talk. I’m not happy at all.”

He was upset and vocal. She was upset and introverted. I on the other hand just sat there quietly not speaking a word. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s true. I was quiet.) So for now the air has been cleared. I am not looking forward to the next time I hear……..

“Mom you’re really not going to be happy when I tell you this.”

More like this:


thestoryteller Aug. 7, 2010 @ 11:47 p.m.

I can relate. Last year, my daughter (21), got married and moved to Hawaii. I hadn't heard from her, and then got the bright idea to look her up on myspace to see if she was still alive. Good God! She had a pictorial expose showing herself getting an "industrial strength rod" stuck in her upper ear, and four tattoos. One tattoo was on her hand, and one was on her shoulder! I always said if you do get a tattoo (and hopefully, you won't) at least get it where it won't be seen. She looked as if she was going to faint and I nearly did too.

About ten years ago, my son, who's 31, was living with my mom. He came home one day looking sick. He was in pain and could hardly move. For three days my mother stressed over him, but he insisted he was all right. On the fourth day, she finally broke him. He took off his shirt and had new tattoos all over his back and a martial arts chain around his waist, She said my dad cried when he found out about it. I wanted to, too. I went without a Diet Coke for 9 months when I was pregnant, so he wouldn't have any defects. Then he goes and does a thing like that!

Well, the only good news is that almost everyone of their generation is doing it, so piercings and tattoos won't count against them in the future. I remember the days when long-haired boys couldn't get a job and now I see clerks with dirty, stringy hair at the mall. I guess it will all work out in the end.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 8, 2010 @ 7:59 a.m.

I always said if you do get a tattoo (and hopefully, you won't) at least get it where it won't be seen.

There is nothing wrong with tattoos-or peircingings or having purple hair.

It may not be everyones cup of tea, but they are no different than how you dress, wear your hear or how present yourself to others.

These are all signs of individuality, and that is what is cool about them.

I don't have any, but I would love to do an entire arm up.......


nan shartel Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:19 a.m.

if tattoos had been popular when i was young i would have had a few in inconspicuous places



Russ Lewis Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:25 a.m.

John Waters once said on Fresh Air (paraphrased), "Parents come to me, and they're all upset because their kid just got a piercing. I tell them, 'Don't get upset if your kid gets a piercing; it'll grow back. Get upset if your kid gets a tattoo!'"

He also made the prescient prediction that in 30 or 40 years, tattoo removal will be a growth industry. Hard to see how it couldn't.


nan shartel Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:41 a.m.

but let me ask u a question...couldn't she have gone to the job interveiw without the tongue ring??

when my middle son was a young teenager...he and his male friends in a frenzy of macho bonding held lit cigarettes to their arms until deep (soon to be scarred permanently) sores were burned into them

he was living with his dad at the time and i was going to college

when i later saw the scars i was flabbergasted...and like ur husband couldn't speak...then i started to cry uncontrolably

there was even a thought in my mind when the tears came...and my son was frightened by my behavior and tried to brush it off with "oh mom it wasn't a big deal"

"it's just the stupid sh*t guys do"

"they'll fade"

he's 50 now and they never faded away...just a reminder of the "stupid sh*t young guys do"

if his teenage son tried it he'd have a complete fit...but i guess he'd understand


nan shartel Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:43 a.m.

but Russl...they'll have so many to remove will they have any skin left???


MsGrant Aug. 8, 2010 @ 9:49 a.m.

I remember when I was around ten getting your ears pierced was kind of a big deal. We had to wait until we were thirteen before our mother would let us get them done. She would have dropped dead if we came home with our tongues pierced. Great story - thanks for sharing!!


nan shartel Aug. 8, 2010 @ 10:24 a.m.

yeah agree with Ms Grant...good blog!!


thestoryteller Aug. 8, 2010 @ 3:17 p.m.

Surfpuppy: You may not mind hiring someone for an executive position who has piercings and tattoos, but that doesn't go for everybody. It's wise to not put them in obvious places (particularly not your face)because it would be stupid to be denied a job simply because the person doing the hiring has a biased against it.

I wanted a tatto in the 1970s, but my friends wouldn't let me get one. I wouldn't want one now because everyone is doing it. They're all doing the same thing to show their origninality--how smart is that?

My daughter-in-law is a beautiful woman but she has one of those big, ugly rings in her ear. It actually detracts from her beauty--my eyes just naturally go to that big round ring. I don't think it looks nice, and I'm not exactly what people would call a prude. Most of these tattoos and piercings aren't appealing to the eye, and it's unfortunate that this generation has had to take the simple ear piercings of yesteryear that much further. It has me fearful of what my granddkids will do next.

Have you seen the video where kids are taking vodka shots to the eye? Good God!


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 8, 2010 @ 5:08 p.m.

Surfpuppy: You may not mind hiring someone for an executive position who has piercings and tattoos, but that doesn't go for everybody.

Now, I didn't say that.

You certainly CANNOT have purple hair and 20 earrings and expect to get hired at a regular job. But maybe this type of person does not want a regular job-there are consequences with purple hair and tats-but liek I said, there is nothing wrong with it im my eyes.


SurfPuppy619 Aug. 8, 2010 @ 5:10 p.m.

Most of these tattoos and piercings aren't appealing to the eye, and it's unfortunate that this generation has had to take the simple ear piercings of yesteryear that much further. It has me fearful of what my granddkids will do next.

Come on, every parent says that.

Your daughter in law will be saying the exact SAME THING!!!!! in 20 years to her daughter in law...........


thestoryteller Aug. 9, 2010 @ 12:34 a.m.

Every generation has to take being outrageous up a notch. It's getting scary, because there isn't much left to do--cut your arm off? Poke out an eye?

I hate to see kids making drastic decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The purple hair will come and go--maybe even the piercings will as well--but tattoos last forever. Have you seen how bad they look when they are removed? Someone needs to improve on the current technology that leaves the outline of the tattoo in pink skin. The original tattoo looks better.

As it turned out, my son is a white-collar worker with a Fortune 500 company. If he had done things your way, Surfpuppy, he would now be the head cashier at Blockbuster Video. Mom always knows best.


David Dodd Aug. 9, 2010 @ 12:57 a.m.

Oh these zany kids.

We were just as silly back then. I thought nothing of going to school blazing on the latest strain of weed to hit the streets. Somehow, it failed to make trig any more interesting. I was in a few rock bands, grew my hair long, got a big hoop ear ring.

We grew out of it, and so do the kids.

I don't have any tattoos, not because I'm afraid of needles or ink, simply because I found other ways to spend my money. Piercings eventually close, hair can be cut and dyed any sensible color, and even tattoos can be removed. If you can keep 'em from getting pregnant before they decide it's time to have a family, then I think you're ahead of the game.


bohemianopus Aug. 9, 2010 @ 7:47 a.m.

I LOVED this! You should win an award!


Evelyn Aug. 9, 2010 @ 8:51 a.m.

I was 12 or 13 when I got a second piercing in my ears. And 22 (March) when I got my first tattoo. In college, I wanted to get an eyebrow piercing, but kept putting it off. And by the time my junior and senior year came around, I knew that an eyebrow piercing wouldn't be cool while at an internship or while looking for work.

The tattoo was done as a spontaneous spur of the moment decision, but I've wanted one since I was 18 and saw my first episode of Miami Ink. It's on my wrist. Why pay for something permanent if I can't even enjoy it? And now at work, tattoos need to be covered; so, I wear my watch over it. My tattoo is just an outline of a heart, so nothing that will necessarily cost me a promotion or a job later on.

Emster, I think it's better that your daughter got the piercing now, instead of later. Young adulthood is the best time to experience new things and decide what works and what doesn't work in one's life. Your daughter, as all under 24 yr olds are still figuring out who they are and what they want to become. I know I am. (and this isn't to say that 25+ yr olds have it all figured out either)


Evelyn Aug. 9, 2010 @ 8:56 a.m.

Oh, and I never have understood why parents freak out about body modifications on their adult children. Maybe it's a parent thing that I'll understand when I have children?

... My friend had a lip piercing for a week. Then she went home and her dad told her to take it out or never return home again. A bit harsh, I would say, but she had made her choice. She was fully aware of what she was doing.

I've always thought it was rather controlling of parents to tell their children what to do past a certain age and/or after kids move out.


emstersmom1 Aug. 18, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m.

Thanks for all your input guys. My daughter read them all, and fortunately she's well rounded enough to see and accept all sides. The sad thing is a few of her friends have not heeded Emily's warnings about job searches. They have continued to have facial piercings and tatoos to excess. I still don't understand the rush. these kids have barely turned 18 or have just turned 19. They really don't understand how the impulsive behavior now, can cost them later. There truly are those days when there's not enough coffee and alcohol in the world. LOL


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