Disappointment at the Half-Pint House

Did you hear the one about the two kids and the homeschool mom who walked into a bar? How about the two kids and a homeschool mom who walked into a tattoo parlor? Actually, make that two tattoo parlors. And, well, technically, the two kids only walked into one – the first one had a sign taped to the door saying, “Absolutely no one under the age of 15 allowed.”

No, I didn’t go ahead with the tattoo on my ankle I’ve been threatening to get for five years. The story is unfortunately one I foreshadowed in an earlier post: Maddie’s ear piercing isn’t working out quite the way we hoped it would. After consulting with most of the moms at Classical Conversations today and then taking the advice of the one with multiple piercing experiences herself, I decided to take Maddie in to a “professional” today to get her earlobes checked.

The first place was the one with the sign on the door and made me wonder what in the world I was thinking. We had Millie with us as Katie was in choir; Chloe stayed with Craig for the last thirty minutes of his after-school gig at the bookstore. I told the girls to stay right outside the door (you know, so they had a great view of everything inside the shop but weren’t technically inside). I then went inside and patiently waited my turn, dressed like a typical soccer mom despite having no children who currently play soccer, until someone finally came to help me.

As you might imagine, I’m not your typical tattoo shop inhabitant, so I’m sure the gal was wondering who the heck she was dealing with. I took her seriously for the job she does and proceeded to pour my story out. She sympathized and said they would make an exception for me to bring her into the store, except that Jason, the piercing guy, had already gone home for the day. She said I could bring her back tomorrow.

Having sufficiently freaked Maddie out already, I figured we might as well get this over with tonight, so we drove up the Loop on our way home where I figured there had to be at least one tattoo and piercings place. We saw two. I found parking in front of one, checked the door for no-children signs (there were none) and went in. This place was a little more hip than the first one we went to, but it was here I had to hand over my good-mothering card to a guy with holes in his ears bigger than my eyes. I spilled my story for the second time and he called me out for the piercing phony I am.

Quarter-size-holes-in-his-ears-guy: Did you take her to a mall?
Me (hanging my head): Um…yes.
Quarter-size-holes-in-his-ears-guy (with a hint of chastisement in his voice): Did they use a gun?
Me (shrinking slowly to the psychedelic spinning floor): yes.
Quarter-size-holes-in-his-ears-guy: You do know they hand those guns to any 16-year-old girl with absolutely no training at all, don’t you?
Me (reaching into my purse and digging out my good-mothering card to hand over): I do now.

Lecture over, he relented and took a good look at her ears. He then delivered the bad news: they had to come out in order to heal. And then we need to have them done again – NOT at the mall.

I said something stupid like, “Can I really bring her here to a place like this?” I realized the insult I’d just accidentally hurled at him and backed up. “I mean, you know, this place is kind of for adults, right? I just meant do you ever do children?” He was gracious and easily deflected the non-intentional dig (I’m guessing when you have holes in your ears the size he does you sort of have to learn to deflect things like that). He said they would be happy to do the piercing correctly for her, but that we have to get a state-issued ID for her first.

Disappointed, the three of us walked out of the tattoo and piercings shop, loaded up into our super-chic minivan looking oh-so-with-it on the edge of the Loop, and headed home. After relaying our story to Craig, we proceeded to take the earrings out amid much sadness and disappointment.

I took the earrings out and saw how big the holes were in front of her ears (not quite to the size of Quarter man, but well on their way). The holes in back were normal size still. Two hours later we could see that the inside was healing back up already and the front holes looked normal.

When she’s ready, I’ll take her back, but I’m not sure when she’ll be ready to do it again: she heard the word “needle” and saw the size of that guy’s own piercings and it may have marked her for life. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I have now officially been to not one, but two tattoo parlors here in St. Louis. I may have arrived.


26 thoughts on “Disappointment at the Half-Pint House

  1. martha10 says:

    could you all have had any more traumatic an ear piercing? you poor things! as they say around here…bless your hearts. i must say that it made for an absolutely hilarious story tho’. this will go down in the annals of your family history as a great story and with it being the first family ear piercing (hopefully not the last) it will be absolutely historic and the beginning of many great characters for all of you to meet as you go to tattoo parlors to get your ears pierced:) now there is a family tradition…and the beginning of even more interesting stories. i can’t wait! m


  2. Margaret says:

    Ah yes…yet another brilliant funny and sad h-p h posting. Hope everyone is better, you wild woman, you!
    (BTW, my mom made me go to the dr to have my ears pierced, and they got very infected. My friend double-pierced one of my ears, and it was no big deal. So, go easy on yourself. These things happen.


  3. Sally D. says:

    This really goes to teach us not to judge a book (or person) by their cover. Seems like you met some pretty nice people in places that “normal” society says is a bad place. Way to go, Mom!! What a great lesson to teach the kids.


  4. Becky says:

    Your life – – dude.
    The fact that you want a tatoo on your ankle clinches it – we are sisters from another mother. We should go get them together – like other ladies go get their nails done.


  5. Jaime says:

    This is great stuff. I’m mainly a lurker here on your blog, but I want to say you are a wonderful writer. This is totally magazine worthy. I felt a little sad and a lot amused–all in the space of a few paragraphs.


  6. Keri says:

    Boy, if you knew how hard I laughed at your dialog with Quarter-size-holes-in-his-ears-guy. So sorry it didn’t work for M and hope she’ll have the courage to do it again when it’s healed up. On the up side – she’ll be able to tell her friends that her mom took her to a tattoo parlor to get her ears pierced! How cool are you?!


  7. Toni Ponder says:

    Hey Megan:
    The same exact thing happened to Heidi’s ears! We took her to Club Libby Lue at the Galleria and her ears got extremely infected, the pierced hole was huge, and she was uncomfortable. We took them out to let them heal, and needless to say, she doesn’t want to do it again! I don’t remember my experience being like this when I got my done at the mall.


  8. martha10 says:

    re becky’s post, i tho’t i was the only one whose kid went on a mission trip and came back wanting a tattoo on her ankle:) at the time i cringed but i didn’t “let her see me sweat” b/c i didn’t think it was a big rebellious thing. it came from someplace i just didn’t understand. (i hate pain.) it’s funny to hear you all talk about it. does it have to do with that desire to show people that we’re different and out of the ordinary or something. i DO get that! iknow this is a major tangent…sorry:) that’s what happens in conversations isn’t it? m


  9. Jan says:

    Just curious as to how you decided to take her to the tatoo/piercing professional to have her ear infection/swelling checked instead of a medical person like a pediatrician or nurse? I have had 3 girls and taken all of them to get their ears pierced. The first 2 I had done at the pediatrician. The next 3 (2 of them have their ears double pierced. They are 22 and 17) were all done at the mall. Curiously all of them even the DR used a gun. So don’t feel bad this could have happened to any of us. In time I bet she gets them redone.


  10. Megan says:

    Here’s where I get to resurrender my mothering card. It never occurred to me to take her to the pediatrician for this. It wasn’t really that infected (it was starting to become so, but not bad). It was the size of the hole that concerned me.
    Honestly? I was hoping to just buy a new pair of earrings – the kind with a bigger ball in front and a longer post. I was hoping the professional piercing guy would just take out the small ones and insert the big ones and presto, problem solved. He convinced me that was a bad idea because the hole wasn’t uniform all the way through her ear. At the back of her ear it was small (too small for them to insert a bigger earring).
    Sigh. I never even knew pediatricians DID ear piercing, you all. That wasn’t written in the instruction manual they gave me 10 years ago (which would be sadly out of date by now anyway).


  11. Megan says:

    Oh, and once she realized that I intend to take her back there to get them redone she vehemently said said wasn’t interested in getting them redone, not there.
    You all, I may have to go and get my nose done when she gets her ears done just to calm her down.
    This is the part you wonder what part of my brain got carved out last night. Nose piercing? I’m just a good little southern baptist-turned PCA gal and all.
    Martha’s right, though. It has nothing to do with rebellion. I’ve always just thought they were pretty. But oh, the pain!!


  12. Jan says:

    Oh Megan you are so great. That is why I love reading your blog! No surrendering of any mothering cards necessary. If there wasn’t a strong learning curve we would all be out of a job, lol. I have to say what the piercing/tatoo guy said does make sense as to why to let them close and start over. Also, I just want you to know I wasn’t implying you did anything wrong. I was just curious as to why you chose that route (tatoo vs medical) and you answered quite logically. If she ever does decide to get them repierced you could always check with your pediatrician and see what he/she recommends. Also I would second that other recommendation and stick with the gold earrings as I have experienced a nickel allergy first hand and it is supposedly more avoidable with genuine gold earrings.


  13. Chelsea says:

    No pictures? I really wanted documentation of Megan at the tattoo parlor.
    I’m suddenly realizing why my mom made us get our ears pierced at the pediatrician’s office. They’re a bit lopsided, but I never had any problems with infections. Poor M10!


  14. Belinda says:

    So sorry for M10. I can imagine how upset she must be. But your post made me laugh. Out loud! BTW – I’ve been threatening for about 5 years to get a tattoo, too…but on the side arch of my foot. My children are appalled and, well, I guess I’ve just been too chicken. :-> Hope the ears heal quickly. B.


  15. Jamie says:

    What a bummer. I had a lot of trouble with my first ear piercings, too. They got infected, despite turning them and cleaning them with alcohol daily. That’s a bit different than the hole being wonky, though.
    So sorry, M10.


  16. angie says:

    my 10 year old daughter who went through the same thing re pierced her own ears…yeah just decided to stick ear rings in. We let hers heal 2 – 3 years ago because she got a bad infection the holes were still there… she said that she kinda had to push on one. She is keeping them clean and we put in gold ear rings.


  17. kathleen says:

    I loved this post! And I would definitely take her back there. I know some people who are tattoo artists/piercers, and underneath the outer appearances, they are very professional and take their work seriously. They do undergo lots of training to do what they do.


  18. Lydia says:

    Aww, poor girl! I just had my pierced for the first time at Icing by Claire’s. I have to clean them three times a day, so I will be very unhappy if they get infected! I have no idea what to do about the weird hole size. Poor girl!


  19. bren j. says:

    Wow that doesn’t sound good. Did they get infected right away or was it because they weren’t being properly cared for? I think I would hold off and maybe wait for a special occasion (I don’t know if that’s why she got them pierced in the first place?). Maybe when she turns 11. If that’s not any time soon, it will give her lots of time to get over the trauma, heal up, and make perhaps a more concrete decision as to whether she even wants them pierced at all.


  20. gretchen from lifenut says:

    Aidan had her ears pierced three years ago at the mall, but a bad infection forced us to take out her earrings about four months later. It has taken a very long time for them to heal (there were little solid “balls” of scarring inside her lobes).
    I’ve heard that tattoo parlors are the way to go, too. They are professionals who must follow licensing and hygiene laws. We’ll probably do that when she is ready to re-pierce. Right now, she doesn’t want pierced ears.
    Another option, which will probably be the priciest? Take her to a doctor. When I was in high school, one of my earrings was ripped out. Yes, I had a sliced lobe, all the way through. Blame the ginormous earrings of the 1980s!
    I had to have it surgically repaired by an ENT, then two months later he re-pierced both my ears. My other lobe, which wasn’t completely torn, was really stretched out so he tightened that side up, too.
    I have no idea if my parent’s insurance covered it, though.
    The dumb thing about having a doctor pierce my ears was that he numbed each lobe with a shot, THEN pierced them. I wondered why he didn’t just pierce them. The shots hurt worse than having my ears pierced at the mall because the anesthetic stung.


  21. Colleen says:

    Thanks for sharing the story! It makes me think about my own ears and what to do when my daughter gets much older. (she’s only 3) The mall stores scare me, especially when I see parents taking their babies in. I would have never thought of going to a tattoo parlor though!


  22. Wendy Kienbusch says:

    I got my ears pierced at the mall, no problem. My mom has always had problems with hers and we got them done the same time same place. My daughter had her 1st piercing at the mall…no problem but her 2nd one has been giving her fits. I don’t think it’s a one place fits all kind of thing. Thanks for sharing the story though. I can only imagine you pulling up with your minivan what they thought.


  23. Beth says:

    Read your story after your post to the SHARE forum. Kudos to you for following up and “braving” a tatoo parlor.
    I’m not usually one to chime in with “warning” comments but I felt like it was important to do so this time. I’m not against tattoos/peircings in any way but it is right and important to research the parlor you choose to visit. My husband had a tattoo done 3 years ago and is currently considering additional art. The tattoo was deceptively simple and it was important to both of us that he used a good, clean parlor and a talented artist. He did a lot of research looking for the right place to go. Tattoos/peircings are becoming increasingly popular, and disreputable parlors are easy to come by. Risks vary from poorly done work to exposure to diseases.
    Three years ago, my hubby’s research led him to All Star (on the loop, I believe) and Trader Bob’s (on Jefferson). He went with Trader Bob’s because he really liked the portofolio of an artist employed there. A few weeks ago, when the subject of additonal art came up, those two parlors were still the top of the list. I don’t know what the situation is in those two places regarding age/peircings, but they are worth looking into.
    More power to you if you go for the ankle tattoo…. I’ve contemplated getting one myself, but can’t settle on a design. Good luck with the ears!


  24. Megan says:

    Thanks for your words of wisdom here, Beth. Honestly, I think I’m going to take her back to another mall place for another try only this time we’re going to get the biggest stud they have. Wow, that sounds funny in print, but you know what I mean. If it doesn’t work this time then we’ll have no other recourse than to go with the piercing place.
    But I did tell her that if she decided to go through with it at a real piercing place the I’d get my nose done. *grin*


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