Girl one loves things that sparkle or shine. She started asking to have her ears pierced before she was in school. I said no, pierced ears were for teenagers. How much longer until I’m a teenager, she wanted to know. When she was seven, we offered to let her pierce her ears for her birthday. Disbelief. Belief. Leaping. Wild celebration.
It was my idea but I was sick to my stomach. Ashamed that I was failing to hold onto to the standards set by the God fearing, tradition loving pioneers. For all I knew, we would soon be watching soap operas and drinking beer for breakfast.
At the jewelry store, I watched the woman pick up the piercer gun and waited for the lightening I deserved to strike me. A few seconds later, Girl one hopped off the chair beaming, a new spring in her step.
Mirror time had always been popular. Now it was a frequent necessity. I rolled my eyes at the silliness of it all. And I began to look forward to twice daily ear care. Me carefully cleaning around the new holes. Her mouth full of wiggly teeth grinning at the site of her ears in the mirror in front of her.
The sparkle of ear rings has been a happy part of the last year and a half. Christmas Eve, with much advance shouting from her siblings, Girl one appeared. She said nothing, her eyes filled with tears begging me to fix it. An ear ring dangled by no more than a string of skin from her ear, the blood long dried. Instead of a hole, there was an already healing rip to the outside of her ear. No one knew when it happened.
I cleaned the ear and held her. She sobbed until she was gasping for breath. When she could finally speak, she wanted to stay home forever. Cancel all Christmas celebrations. Never go to school again. It kept my own tears in check trying to focus enough to gently redirect the passions of my little mad woman. I don’t know how long I held her, or how many times I kissed that head of hers.
My feet felt heavy when I took a step. I wanted a good cry myself for letting this happen. For failing her so greatly in something that mattered to her so much. Christmas Eve afternoon does not afford time for personal meltdown. I told myself that I didn’t live in Syria. That my child was disappointed and embarrassed, not hungry or dying. We still had more than enough reasons to celebrate.
Girl one’s ear is rather tribal now. I have promised to have it pierced again. Just above the small sliver of air that softly divides her ear lobe into two sections. There will be no ear rings worn outside in cold weather with hats, but I didn’t worry about the lightening when I promised. I’m content to have fallen in love with the mystery that is my daughter.