Sunday 16 October 2011

Mummy on the Edge Families Magazine
September October 2011

Mini-me gets her ears pierced.... nearly.

Mini-Me sat on a stool in Anna's Jewellery shop quaking nervously as Classic FM played a foreboding science-fiction theme tune – Star Wars or something. “This is dramatic music, Mummy.”

WE had decided that SHE wanted her ears pierced. Spurred on by my constant reminders of the existence of a pair of barely-visible-to-the-naked-eye diamond earrings with her name on. When piercing day finally arrived, (having been postponed variously due to swimming lessons, fear of pain, etc.) these would be taken out of hiding (if I could remember where I had put them). And if she didn't want teeny tiny diamonds, I could easily re-gift them to any number of recipients amongst our family and friends. Oh, don't look at me like that: it's not really blackmail.

The eponymous Anna was a mature Trinidadian woman who wielded her piercing gun with an air of experience and not a little panache. “It won't hurt.” she reassured Mini-Me, “Just a pinch!” (“Like that”, I helpfully demonstrated on her hand - “Ow!!”) No anaesthetic? A trifling matter. I was an instant convert to the Who Needs Anaesthetic When You Are a Mature Lady Of The World Who Knows What You Are Doing? camp. In direct opposition to the Go, Whippersnappers With Anaesthetic and Unique Simultaneous Left And Right Piercing Action, at Claire's Accessories, Even Though Due Entirely to Personal Mid-Life Insecurities, It Freaks Me Out That Many of You Were Born In The Nineties camp.

“Well,” Mini-Me reasoned somewhat apologetically, (after having black dots penned onto her ears by Anna and flinching behind clenched fists each of the five times she had approached clutching the piercing gun,) “I just don't think I'm ready, Mummy.” By now you could tell, despite her sterling efforts to hide it, Anna was slightly peeved; partly because she had opened a sterile pair of pink sparkly earrings but mostly because she was having to cope with an over-familiar, first-name using (and casual observers may have noted: slightly demented) mother who was now drawing comparisons between Anna and the child's grandmother as though doing that would reassure Mini-Me. Anna suggested we go for a walk. (I think she meant, “Get out of my shop.”)

“How about a luxurious, creamy, yummy milkshake?” I offered. We were in Islington, off Chapel Market and just across the way was Shake Gallery, an art and gift shop with a cafe at the front serving all manner of fruit/ jar/ chocolate bar concoctions. “ANYthing you want. ANY flavour. To help you relax. And then, if you feel like it (because it's really completely up to you, y'know) we can go back and get your ears pierced.” No, not bribery: encouragement! Mini-Me chose something with bananas and peanut butter and chocolate. I shared it with her.

We traipsed back up the road to see Anna but we were only halfway there when Mini Me decided once and for all that she really couldn't go through with it. Okay, I sighed, and did not push any further. We carried on walking and looked at the plant stall in the market. I was admiring some Jasmine when I noticed quiet and heavy tears streaming down Mini-Me's usually ever-cheerful face. “Its alright,” I said, “you don't have to pierce your ears today, okay?”

“But I don't want to upset Anna!” she quietly sobbed. Of course, it was all my fault. “Don't worry about Anna!” “But she'll be disappointed!” More tears. What had I done? It was time for damage limitation.

I squatted down at her level and looked her in the eye: “Listen,” I said. “She's not your flippin' grandmother. She's a lady who owns a shop. She'll survive the disappointment. Probably happens to her all the time. They are YOUR ears. NOT mine, NOT Anna's, not anyone else's, just yours. And if you don't want to pierce them, it's nobody's business (-no, not even mine,) but yours. You have nothing to feel bad or guilty about and I'm sorry if I put you under pressure. In fact I'm very proud of you for making your own decision about your own ears and expressing yourself very clearly. It's a very important skill to have and I would do well to try to learn that from you.”

Talk about driving the poor kid bonkers. She beamed and nodded and I wiped the tears from her face with the extra tissues I'd stuffed into my handbag from Shake Gallery. “Mummy, I think you're just the right mummy for me.” “Yes darling, and you're just the right daughter for me” I said, unlocking my blackberry and googling the nearest Claire's Accessories.