It was the week after my birthday–which meant it was Maddie’s birthday. Maddie’s 7th birthday. Which is ridiculous…because seriously? When did my baby girl niece become a kid. She’s no longer a squishy, cuddly baby that I used to want to pour BBQ sauce over and eat whole. No. Now she’s this kid who has thoughts of her own and draws conclusions based on her findings. Like for example, not too long ago Liza and I were sitting in her kitchen discussing grown up things (::cough:: Twilight ::cough::) and Maddie came running in.
Maddie: “Mom! I want to get my ears pierced!”
Liza sighed. Apparently, she had had this discussion before. “Not until you’re older.”
Maddie: “But moooooom,” The word mom was dragged out to be at least 4 syllables long, “every other girl in school is doing it on their 7th birthday.”
Liza: “Really, Maddie? Every girl in school? Every single girl in school got her ears pierced on her birthday? So if I went around to every girl in your class next year, all of them would have pierced ears?”
Maddie faltered for a minute, but got her stony expression back almost immdiately. “Yes.”
Sighing again, Liza rolled her eyes toward me. “I told you already, I was 13 when I got mine pierced. You have to wait until you’re at least double digits.”
Maddie then turned her efforts toward me…the sucker. “Aunt Colleen, when did you get your ears pierced.”
Liza glared at me. “You were at least 10, right Colleen?” Her eyes narrowed.
“Er—” I looked back and forth from Maddie’s hopeful eyes to Liza’s “I’ll-kill-you-and-eat-the-remains-if-you-answer-incorrectly” eyes. “Well…actually, I was 8. So maybe wait until next birthday, Maddie?”
Liza’s glaring became a full on scowl. And Maddie started whining even more. “See mom! What’s a year? It’s nothing, I may as well do it NOW, THIS YEAR so that I don’t become an outcast.” And then she stomped out of the room making a face.
And seriously? When did 7-year olds start using words like ‘outcast’? That’s just crazy…
So, anyway…it was now the day of Maddie’s birthday. And due to a series of events that I don’t think I should share with the internet, Liza caved, allowing Maddie to pierce her ears.
We met at the mall at the Piercing Pagoda. Liza was there, Liza’s mom, me, and Maddie’s best friend Zaley and her mother. Maddie excitedly picked out a pair of diamond studs–yes, diamonds. I have to admit, there was a pang of jealousy that this 7 year old got a pair of diamond earrings before her 26-year old aunt did.
But as the employees were preparing the ear gun–Maddie got freaked. Apparently, she hadn’t thought about the specifics of what getting your ears pierced meant. It meant that a gold rod was going to PIERCE through your EAR. AND OH MY GOD, IS THERE ANYTHING SCARIER TO A 7 YEAR OLD KID?!
She began clinging to my jeans, moaning and whimpering everytime the employees would take a step near her. I bent down, brushing the hair from her eyes. “Maddie, hun…it doesn’t hurt that bad. I promise.”
“What does it feel like?” Her eyes watered.
“Well, it feels like this.” I pinched her lightly on the earlobe. And I’m not kidding–you would have thought I had just shot the child with a bazooka. She screamed, falling into my arms crying.
At which point, I stood up and chose the cheapest pair of titanium earring they had in the case. “I’d like to get my ears pierced a second time, please.”
Maddie stopped screaming and looked at me, the residual tears still falling off her jawline. “What?”
“WHAT?” All the adults said together.
“I’d like to get a second hole please.” I leaned back down to Maddie. “But if I do it…then you HAVE to do it. And you’ll see…it doesn’t hurt that much.” Maddie nodded…still unsure if this was some sort of trick.
As I sat in the chair, I started wondering if it actually did hurt to get my ears pierced–maybe I was in denial about the level of pain I had felt at age 8. My hands gripped the chair’s armrest harder and harder with each passing second. Liza came over and whispered, “You realize that if you show any ounce of pain, she will never get her ears pierced. Ever.”
No pressure at all. I shut my eyes, held my breath and squeezed my hands together. I could feel my eyes welling up as the first ear was pierced and the second one hurt slightly more. It definitely felt worse than that little pinch I had given to Maddie’s earlobe, but nothing unbearable. I opened my eyes to see Maddie and Zaley staring at me…waiting for a reaction. I tried to blink away the tears adn smiled wider than any normal smile. “See? Totally fine.”
At which point Maddie and Zaley started cheering and dancing around the store. It still took some cajoling to get Maddie in the chair. I just kept saying, “Diamonds, Maddie. DIAMONDS. You have no idea how exciting that really is just yet, but trust me. YOU WANT THOSE DIAMONDS.”
And she did it. My brave little 7-year old niece. And it just goes to show that I will do just about anything for that kid. Including putting an extra set of holes in my ears.