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The Piercing Question

by Elisa All

I was 2 months old when my mother had my ears pierced by the family doctor. In my mom’s Hispanic culture, it’s a tradition to pierce baby girls’ ears as early as a few weeks old. I grew up wearing earrings and didn’t think anything of it. The tiny holes in my ears are as much a part of me as the ears themselves.

When I gave birth to my own baby daughters (identical twins Cassie and Jules), my mother encouraged me to follow tradition and have their ears pierced. She mentioned that it would be easier on them to have it done as babies since they wouldn’t remember the pain or be afraid of the needle. After consulting with my husband, we decided to wait until the girls asked for their ears to be pierced. We reasoned that by waiting, the girls would make their own decision about having their ears pierced and they would likely be old enough to take care of their ears themselves.

Cassie and Jules were 5 years old when they asked to have their ears pierced. I think it was a combination of watching me change my earrings and seeing other girls their age start to wear them that prompted the request. Still, when Cassie actually asked me, my heart flipped. Another milestone in my life as a mom!

“Mommy, can I wear earrings?” Cassie asked.

“Me, too!” Jules chimed.

“Well,” I replied slowly, “that means you’ll need to get your ears pierced. Are you ready for that?”

“Yes, Mommy!” Cassie smiled.

“Ummm,” Jules hesitated, “I think so.”

Oh, boy, I thought, this is going to be interesting.

These days, we don’t need to take kids to the doctor for ear piercing (though some people do). There are trained professionals at handy little shops in the mall that can do it in between stops at the food court and the movie theater. And that’s where I took Cassie and Jules.

When we got there, the first thing the girls did was to pick out gold post earrings that would be shot right into their ears. What a bonus – no needles any more! Next, Cassie hopped up into the piercing chair while I read and signed the parental consent form. The piercing technician put on disposable rubber gloves and wiped Cassie’s ears with an antiseptic solution. She made a dot on the lobe in the exact location she wanted to place the hole, and had me approve it. Then she removed the pre-packaged, pink-stoned post from its plastic covering and inserted it into the piercing instrument. She lined it up on the spot and pulled the “trigger.” Cassie’s eyebrows shot up to the ceiling. “Ouch!” she said.

That’s all Jules needed to hear to get nervous. But Cassie didn’t flinch when the technician repeated the procedure on the second ear, and just like that, Cassie’s ears were pierced. Next up was Jules.

“I’m scared, Mommy!”

“Do you still want your ears pierced?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied, “I’m just scared!”

Cassie hugged her and told her it wasn’t so bad, but Jules was sure it was going to hurt. I sat down in the chair. “Come sit on my lap,” I said. Somehow we coaxed Jules on to my lap, where she gripped my arms tight. The technician tried to put the piercing instrument on Jules’ ear, but Jules flinched.

“Take a deep breath and try not to move,” I said. She cooperated as best as she could, but once the blue-stoned post went in, she started to cry. “It did hurt, Mommy,” she said. I soothed her for a while and she calmed down enough to let the technician do the second ear. Once she was finished, Jules was very proud of herself. She smiled and looked in the mirror, and was happy with what she saw. “My earrings are so pretty, Mommy!” she said.

We learned that to properly care for the new piercings, we would have to wash our hands whenever we touched their ears, and we had to clean the area three times a day with a special antiseptic while twisting the earrings so the inside area was cleaned, too. The girls were still too young to do this alone, so it was something we did together each day. The original earrings could not be removed for six weeks, and after that, earrings had to be worn every day for the first six months to ensure the holes remained open.

While piercing became quite a project for us, the end result was good and we haven’t had any problems. But in the end, it’s up to each parent to decide if and when it’s appropriate for their child to have her ears pierced. Only you know your child, and your family traditions, and you are the one to make the decision that’s right for your child.

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