Monday, January 14, 2013


Sunday morning I took Helen to get her ears pierced. This is a desire that came on her suddenly: Tuesday morning at 11:32, apparently. I got home from work and she had the computer on, open to the webpage for Claire's, which is apparently where everybody gets their ears pierced. I'd never actually heard of Claire's.

"It's right in the mall," she said. "By JC Penny. You go up the escalator, Maddie says. Angelina says it doesn't hurt at all."

No one really likes the paparazzi in the morning
"I'll need to do a little research," I said, buying some time so I could take off my coat. Also because while I am fine with her getting her ears pierced - this was clearly an event that would be coming, as we have a girl, and particularly as we have Helen - I needed to consider the bribery possibilities of the event before I let it disappear over the waterfall of missed opportunity. Did ear piercing need to be a Reward Event?

I ultimately decided no. Helen is not really my need-to-be-bribed child, anyway. So bright and early  Sunday morning we put on our nice clothes and drove to the mall. As we got ready, I was a tiny bit reminded of a former colleague who said that she understood the fairy tale archetypes of replacement and obsolescence when she had a teenage daughter. "They're blossoming just as you're hitting menopause," she said. "It really feels like you're being replaced." Not that Helen or I are doing either of these, just yet. But they are on the horizon.

Originally, for example, I was going to wear my "not actually pajamas" clothes, but then I started imagining myself standing in the overlit mall shop next to some pretty young thing wearing her work outfit and Helen in her coordinated "I'm getting my ears pierced FINALLY" outfit, so I put on a non-pilly sweater and newer slacks and my boots and a necklace and makeup (makeup!).

"You look tired," Helen said in the spirit of helpfulness. "You have those black things under your eyes."

"Bags," I said. "Those are called bags."

So Helen, me and my eye bags headed off to the mall. We got there about ten minutes before anything opened and wandered around looking at the puppies, smelling the cookies, looking at the goods. I tried my best not to be actively hating the mall. It helped that it was early morning and the sun was streaming in the windows; it didn't feel like the day the shooter would come bursting out of the food court firing on everyone. I could imagine that the other people there were just, like us, running a few routine and irritating errands, instead of living their fullest and best lives under the artificial lights of the House of Mammon.

I still offered up a little prayer that neither of my children will grow up to be teenagers whose favorite hangout is the mall.

Finally our store opened and I followed Helen in. The pretty young thing was very sweet and encouraging. "Have you been waiting for this a long time?" she asked Helen, who nodded happily. I signed the waivers, we picked out the earrings, Helen held the comfort bear and the deed was done. A person who occasionally gets hysterical in doctor's offices about potential shots sat calmly and happily through two ear piercings.

It made me realize, or maybe remember, that kids can bring themselves to do just about anything, so long as it's their idea. If it's something I impose, or that I'm taking too much charge of, they're much more likely to fall apart. This might actually be something of a Parenting Truth, one which I'd better pay attention to.

1 comment:

Alien in CH said...

I love "Reward Event." I'll have to keep that in mind.