Moms

Merle Norman

I wasn't privy to the decisions about ear-piercing when Lisa was alive. No, she was the one who made that decision.

Although she was Presbyterian and believed in baptism at birth, that was not her view on pierced ears. There would not be a Tanner kid with piercings until at least a decade of their life had passed. She thought it made them look too grown up.

When she was nine, DJ nagged her mom for a year for the lobe holes until finally, Lisa and her gaggle of women friends decided that ten was in and the countdown began.

I'm not sure how these moms came about that decision, but they unveiled their calendar as if they were the Misses Manners of preteen etiquette. Not only did they determine the appropriate age for piercing, they also informed all involved as to the appropriate age for a Facebook page (12) and the point when a cell phone was needed (the start of middle school). No one dared ask for an exception. The Mother Mafia had spoken. I believe they actually signed a treaty with one another and apparently a full on embargo would be imposed on anyone straying from the agreement.

When it was time for DJ to get her ears punctured, Lisa drove her to Crabtree Valley Mall and met another mother/daughter pair at the entrance to Merle Norman. That is where Lisa had her ears pierced approximately 25 years prior.

DJ desperately wanted to wear earrings, but she also desperately did not want a hole punched in her ear. She apparently sat on the piercing stool three times, chickening out as Merle approached with the lobe stapler. Finally, Merle had had enough and kicked her out of the store. DJ then threw the most massive temper tantrum my wife had ever seen right at the main entrance to Belk. Lisa literally carried our ten-year old to the car and locked the doors because DJ threatened to jump out of the minivan and run back into the mall.

Stephanie's journey toward earring mecca was very different. She turned ten four months after Lisa died. She reminded me that DJ got her ears pierced at age ten and asked if she could too.

I actually thought it was a law in Raleigh, and I didn't want to break the treaty - so the two of us hit the mall quickly. It was four months after Lisa's death.

Sweet Stephanie was so excited! Her father was so very, very sad. As she patiently waited looking at her barren lobes for the last time in their handheld mirror, I fought back tears. It was one of the first milestones I had tackled by myself. What father takes his daughter, alone, to have her ears pierced?

I suggested the silver balls; her mother only wore silver. She agreed. There were tears that June night, but not from the kid.

Well today it was Michelle's turn. I had avoided the subject because I knew the costumer in A Christmas Carol frowned upon jewelry in the play.

"There were no piercings in 19th century England!" she announced last year as a warning to those who were bejeweled.

But when one of her best friend's moms inquired about a joint trip to see Merle, I just couldn't turn her down. It's sort of a rite of passage - one that can't be denied. So now my baby girl has her ears pierced.

I'm beginning to see something different in my daughters. No longer are they 100% kid. Now I see glimpses of young women.

I wish Lisa could see what I see - the slight changes coming month by month by month.

I will take it all in for her.

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