Every summer I reserve two nights back-to-back for boys’ and girls’ nights out with the grandchildren. Boys are the easiest and, quite frankly, the most boring. Give them burgers and a go-cart and they’re good for the night.
Girls are another story. The two oldest co-chairs concocted elaborate plans for the night with Grammy and Papa. Although all seven of my granddaughters were invited, two sisters tested positive for strep throat and had to stay home. We began in late afternoon with a craft. Each girl was given a pair of flip-flops to decorate. They had the table loaded with tubes of paint, silk flowers and an assortment of beads. An hour and several mishaps later, we put the one-of-a-kind footwear on some newspaper to dry.
Then I had a surprise for the girls. I was taking them to get their ears pierced. I had already gotten the OK from their moms.
When I arrived at the store with five giggling girls, I was informed that being the Grammy wasn’t good enough. They had to have the parent’s signature on the form. I have taken one or two of my grandchildren to the emergency room in the past, but apparently making a tiny hole in an earlobe required parental permission.
One by one the Moms arrived, signed the forms, and then were told by their daughters that they had to leave.
We began with the oldest. My 13-year old granddaughter is truly a woman of the world. She had her ears pierced when she was 8 and wanted a second piercing. She sat stoically in the chair, not a smile on her face. Two women flanked her on each side and, on the count of three (they pierced at two), the deed was done.
Next came one of my 12-year-olds. This child has just been through knee surgery. She has been stuck with needles, endured two months in a cast and three months of physical therapy. But as she sat down, she was shaking so badly that I thought she was going to tip over the chair. She had a big grin on her face, but it looked forced. I grabbed both of her hands and held them tight as the women began their count.
My almost 11-year-old has wanted her ears pierced since she was in pre-school. She jumped up on the chair and never flinched. I think they could have cut her lobes off and she’d still be smiling.
Last in line was my soon-to-be 6-year-old granddaughter. Years ago I might have had an opinion on the proper age for a child to have her ears pierced (I was 22), but I’ve since learned to keep my mouth shut and pick my battles. The youngest had watched her cousins endure the brief battle in the chair, and by the time it was her turn she looked as if she was about to go to the gallows. She was so close to tears I was ready for a wail.
“Honey, you don’t have to have your ears pierced,” I said in my most grandmotherly tone.
“But I HAVE to,” she sopped. “I’ll be the only one who didn’t do it.”
With that she proceeded to climb up on the chair, her lower lip trembling.
One… two… and the deed was done.
The little one was the only child to voice her feelings. She let out a loud “OWWWWWWWWW,” and then the tears began to fall — but only for an instant. She got down from the chair and started to dance around saying, “My ears sting, my ears sting.”
Each girl was given a bottle of antiseptic and told they were to clean the area three times a day, each time twisting the earring. By the time we got home, the girls decided that their ears were beginning to crust and that they better clean them that night. I sat them all in the kitchen and showed them the procedure and, for the next half hour, the girls practiced. By night’s end they had the cleanest earlobes in the county.
The next morning the girls were up before dawn doing — what else — but cleaning the site of their piercings. I couldn’t get them to leave their earlobes alone. One granddaughter was so enthusiastic that she twisted the earring out. The ordeal of putting it back in was enough to squelch her enthusiasm, and she left that ear alone.
We are now two weeks out, and I’m happy to report that no one has had to go to the hospital with a raging infection.
I had a makeup session last night for the two who had been sick, and the first thing they wanted to do was get their ears pierced like their cousins. However, without peer pressure they caved (not before becoming hysterical in the chair), and we decided that we would revisit the issue when all of their cousins were in town to cheer them on. I figure they will be without holes for at least six more months.
If you have a comment or a suggestion for next summer’s night out that doesn’t involve pain, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org