Ear Piercing ? No, not mine. Little Miss Techcobweb wanted to have her ears pierced… Unusually for me, this is the rather personal story I thought I’d share about what happened when we (as parents) said “no”.
I thought she was too young for ear piercing at the time, this was in March 2011 and she was under ten. In the days of the sexualization of children in the media isn’t ear-piercing a response to all that ? Isn’t this self-mutilation for the sake of vanity ? Is this the end of my daughters’ childhood ? Surely not that extreme, but you get where I was going with the thought process, so I said “No”.
This resulted in the start of a “crusade” from her: We had cute begging letters, written debates about the “why not”, surveys of peers, cousins and classmates who all apparently had been wearing earrings for ages. We got to the point where her “crusade” started to make me feel like I had dug my heels in. I held firm. “No” was still my answer. “Do it when you’re older” I said … “how much older ?” was the reply… and so it went on.
Then I read an article about the other trials parents are put through later in a daughters life, and they all seemed to make something as everyday as ear-piercing seem less of an issue. I want her to grow up trusting that, as parents, we will let the less important things go, but will speak up and make a stand on the crutial things in her life which we can protect her from, the things that really matter. I don’t want her to expect we’ll say “no” to everything, or she won’t ask our opinions when there is a decision to be made. So my position on this issue wavered.
Ideally I thought “maybe in 2-3 years” or some such notion, so devised a cunning plan: “read fifty age-appropriate books of 100 pages or more and you can have your ears done”. That’s what I said back in March. The “grand challenge” had been set. I was comfortable that by the time she read all those books she would be old enough.
On day one she created a wall-chart, with 50 boxes. On completion of each book, a big tick would be placed in one of the 50 boxes. She displayed the chart very visibly by the door to her room. You’d see it whenever you went in there.
Since then she has had her head buried in all manner of books, so long as they were deemed fit to pass the age and length test. Every evening. Every weekend. She now reads faster than I do (not hard I’ll grant you). Tick. Tick. Tick.
That was, until last week, (a mere 8 months since the challenge was set) when she ticked-off her final book on her chart. All 50 titles have been read and a few of them reviewed on GoodRead.com to boot.
So, as I’ve been using the mantra “don’t break a deal” since she was old enough to make deals, I had no choice but to let her do as she wished.
On Saturday (with the help of a qualified person) she changed this:
<insert picture of before-ear>
<insert picture of after-ear>
This was a big moment for both of us, although for me it was less painful I’m sure, as I wasn’t having a beautician thudding studs through my ear lobes.
It was important for her because it showed that if you work hard, and keep at it even when your goal seems far away, eventually it can be achieved. (Why does that remind me of Waynes world… “someday it shall be mine”…) ?
Also, if you keep tracking your status against your goal, it keeps you focused.
For me, it provided a graphic example of how realistic goal-setting can be a powerful motivator, and how making a compromise on a negotiating position can really result in a win-win.
After watching her over the last 9 months, I’ll admit that I have been impressed, and rather proud of a daughter who can focus on a goal so single-mindedly.
Now I’m wondering what her next crusade will be about, and what her next “grand challenge” is going to have to be.
PS: I did wonder whether she would stop reading now that the reading “grand challenge” is over, but I needn’t have worried. With a huge smile, and a sparkle of light reflected from the stone in her ear, she’s announced that she’s just finished reading another.