An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Puppies, Pantones and Piercings December 7, 2012

I: Independence

PBTeen Graphic Patch Quilt Purchased, Potentially Returned

PBTeen Graphic Patch Quilt Purchased, Potentially Returned

I’m not sure what switch was flipped at age nine and a half for my daughter, Ava, but it’s causing a newfound need to be more grown-up.  From nightly dinner conversations about getting a puppy to updating her room decor so she can lose the baby pink pantone, it’s constantly called to my attention that she growing up.


To agree to all of these requests — a new puppy, a new room, a new route home from school with a friend, and new and permanent bling in her ears — would most likely overwhelm our entire family. Over the past month, we’ve been working though everything with some careful compromising, added responsibility and sound reasoning.


Ava cleverly submits me to online survey-taking to determine the type of puppy I (nevermind her) would be most compatible with and works hard to sell me on the idea that she’d be the one taking puppy out for walks at 7:00a.m. in the winter. Once we revisit our schedule, turns out that yes, it would be me doing those early morning walks/runs. We table the puppy purchase for at least six months.


Next we turn our focus to redecorating her room. After seven and a half years of what we call watermelon decor, she insists she’s ready for something new. We scout out PotteryBarnTeen and find a few options (black is a necessity) before ordering the Graphic Patch Quilt and Sham as a starting point for the paint selection and decor. We cannot agree on paint selection, but we eventually agree that maybe it’s too soon to redecorate given all of the things we’d have to replace and buy. We could wait until she’s eleven and revisit it as we’ll probably only do the decor over once while she’s living at home. It’s kind of a relief, truthfully.


Thirdly, we discuss walking home after school with a friend to her friends’ house. She insists she’s totally ready for this. I, however, am not. Instead I offer to pick up her and her friend one day each week and bring them to our house so they can hang out. She’s kind of heartbroken over this and I would love to say yes. Maybe next year. Maybe when you have your own mobile phone.


Piercing Tech Alicia Measures and Marks with Purple Ink

Piercing Tech Alicia Measures and Marks with Purple Ink

The final quest is for ear-piercing. We create a reward system around this – practice your piano and clarinet frequently and without complaint and you may get your ears pierced. She is game for this and follows through for a month before the assessment date arrives. She gets a passing grade from her Dad and we immediately head for Claire’s the next day.


I question the training and skill sets of the piercing technicians at Claire’s, but I am mostly satisfied because of the girl’s optimistic and friendly attitude. She claims she’s a perfectionist and re-does the purple ink dot markings 15 times to ensure the correct and matching placement. When all is perfectly marked, we call on another tech so they can simultaneously perform the piercing. Ava seems a bit nervous, but doesn’t let on. Her seven year-old brother is pacing the store and continually asking if we can buy candy.


"I Just Got My Ears Pierced" and now I'm at Starbucks

“I Just Got My Ears Pierced” and now I’m at Starbucks

We settle on the mid-to-high price range earrings although all in their arsenal are hypoallergenic. I talk Ava down from a square cubic-zirconia looking studs to flatter, yet still shiny, daisy-shaped earrings. On the count of three, the techs fire their earring guns. Ava looks a bit flushed. The tech reviews the cleaning process and we walk out $55 later. We opt not to redeem the 50% off coupon for new earrings just yet as she has to keep the studs in for six weeks.


She shares the news with her family and fellow fourth-grade friends. She’s slightly worried about her Papa calling her a gypsy, which is what he called me in newly-pierced ears in sixth grade. The girls just say cool. In the next breath, all is well with the other denied and compromised requests for the moment. I’m safe until the next grown-up must-do/ must-have comes along.


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