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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why I took my 1st grader to a tattoo parlor

Violet has been talking about getting her ears pierced for a while, and recently she got pretty serious about it. Being the somewhat alternative mama that I am, I did some research about what was best for my child rather than going the conventional route.

So many things about piercing guns seem wrong. Do you really want to let a teenager punch a hole in your body with a semi-blunt object? Or would you rather visit someone who has spent a lot of time training on piercing earlobes and much more complicated piercings? My gut told me to go to a professional piercer.

A little internet research, coupled with my own memories of simultaneous gun piercings as a child, made me increasingly determined to have my daughter's ears pierced with a needle. If you take a piece of paper and punch through it with a semi-sharp pencil and with a hole punch and compare the results, you'll see the advantage of piercing with a hollow needle. There is far less trauma to the tissue.

A few friends recommended a shop in the area, and I found out one of the piercers there pierced children's ears. (Not every shop or every piecer will pierce minors or they may have a minimum age--do your research.) I called the shop and asked some questions, and when Violet was still ready to have her ears pierced, we called and made an appointment.

We did a lot of talking about what would happen, and also about how it would hurt, but only for a moment, and she was going to be brave and do it again for the second ear. I was mentally prepared to leave with one ear done if need be, but I didn't think that would happen. We also talked about how the experience would be different from what many of her classmates had done, but we felt this was better for her than going to the mall. Her earrings would look a little different, but there were a lot of pretty options to choose from.

It was no surprise to me that she chose the purple simulated opal jewelry. It was one of the most expensive options, but she'll be wearing these earrings for a while, and I felt it was worth an extra $20 to have her wearing something she really loved.

Yes, she was nervous.
After we signed the consent forms and picked out her jewelry, we had a few minutes to wait and she commented on some "disappropriate" artwork on the wall that showed someone's bottom. Then we went into the piercing room. My daughter was nervous and clutched the stuff animal she brought to hug. She would have been every bit as nervous with any piercing experience. All of the careful disinfecting and preparation done by the piercer prolonged the nervous anticipation.

Jeremiah clamped her earlobe and she shot me this look like aren't we going to get on with this and are you going to keep taking pictures? I knew she just wanted to get it over with, and a moment later, her ear was pierced. It really shocked her and she cried when he did it and when the jewelry went in. (I went into full Mama mode and was not taking photos!) She took a few minutes to calm down and the piercer let her look in the mirror and admire the one earring that was done. When she was more ready to get the second one done, he quickly clamped her earlobe and pierced it before she could think about it. She reacted far less and was so very relieved that it was over. The anticipation had been the worst part for her.

The needle
I snapped this photo while the piercing needle was in her ear, hanging out for a moment while the piercer got her jewelry ready. She was so calm at this point, because the worst was over! I took this photo primarily to show her later, because I knew she'd be amazed at the size of the needle. She felt extra brave when she saw the photo that night. I also include this photo to prepare needle-shy parents who are considering taking their children to a professional piercer. 

Her ears didn't feel great at first, but it was very short-lived. I couldn't believe how quickly she was bouncing around and feeling fine! She felt like a superhero after getting her ears pieced. She was so confident and proud of her ears!

That night and afterwards, her ears didn't hurt at all, unless they got bumped or caught on something. We bought some H2ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray for aftercare and it is very gentle on her fresh piercing and convenient to use. She complains that it is cold and wet, and I think about how much more gentle it was than the aftercare routine I used almost 30 years ago!

With the high quality titanium piercing jewelry, we leave her ears alone to let them heal. No turning jewelry. (I have such horrible memories of the pain when we had to turn my earrings, when my ears had been healing and adhering to the earring post and back!) Her earrings are a short barbell, with a little silver ball in the back and a pretty bezel-set cabochon in the front. I watched some youtube videos to prepare myself for the experience and most of those girls got captive bead rings. Our piercer did not recommend them for her, because they are more likely to be played with or bumped. Going with the barbell or labret style jewelry was definitely easier for her while healing than a CBR would have been.

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