Piercings, Tattoos & Bonding with Your Teen

Baker Boy bribed me. He said, “Mom, if you take me to get my tregus  pierced, I’ll pay to have your nosed pierced.” Yup, he did. Yes, he wanted something for himself, a ride to the piercing/tattoo shop and he was willing to pay to make it happen. But, as a mama of 3 teenage boys, I like to think there is an unspoken need in between those lines.  He didn’t ask his dad or his brother (who drives), he asked me.

I know a lot of parents who are against piercings and tattoos. Many of whom I call friend. I have a very good friend who strongly disagrees with my stance on tattoos. She’s okay with them if they are not in the “No Zone”. The No Zone to her, is any place that can be seen wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts. If there are tattoos under those garments, she doesn’t care how many her children get. I have a friend who will allow her son to get his ears pierced but will not allow him to gauge his ears. And I respect their boundaries. I get it.

Being from a predominately right brained family where life is expressed through the arts, my boundaries are different. I’m raising artists. Baker Boy is an honor roll student at an all arts high school, studying Stage Tech and Design. He’s a good kid with a kind heart. Drama Boy, a theater major in college, worked really hard through high school and went through some rough situations I’m not sure I would’ve survived. We have a good relationship. They talk to me, share stories about their friends, their girlfriends, trust me. I trust them.

I know they are not perfect, neither am I. But, if they invite me into their world, to spend time with them, I’m not quick to turn that down.

I went with Baker Boy to get his tregus pierced. We waited in the packed tattoo parlor for 3 hours. It was $20 Piercing Night. It was a bit of a meat market, moving customers in and out. I did have a few fleeting thoughts about the cleanliness of the equipment, wondering if sterilized products could be maintained under such busy conditions. As a business owner, I even calculated the numbers in my head wondering what $20 Piercing Night could mean for their business. But, while I waited, I was with B-Boy. We looked through tattoo books, talked about school, did a lot of people watching and eaves dropping and then when it was our turn, went into the back room together.

My boy sat down, pointed to the spot he wanted pierced, below his cartilage piercing and above his gauged ear lobe. He took that needle like a man. Then it was my turn. My teenager’s iphone was immediately turned onto video mode to document the moment. The needle went in, then the stud. As my eye watered up (it does naturally as the nerve is hit) my teenager laughed. I could tell he was proud of his mom.

As soon as Drama Boy turned 18, we made an appointment to get his first tattoo. He asked me to take him. I parked our 18 passenger Econoline van on the street and followed him up the stairs to the studio. I had Little Man with me which meant I had to wait in the waiting area with him. But, I had a clear view. I watched the needle paint his skin with the word “Perfect” in white ink.

The T was in black, a bit larger in the shape of a cross. He had earned that badge of honor. He struggled for four years in high school to fit in, to feel like he belonged. As he inched closer to adulthood, he began to feel comfortable in his own skin. Inspired by the Pink song, Perfect, he commemorated his triumph…and he asked me to be there.

What is your stance on teenage piercings and tattoos? I’d love to hear.