My now seven-year-old reached a milestone yesterday: she got her ears pierced. She’d been waiting for two years – asked me when she was five and I said seven was the magic number, not sure why. Mostly I wanted to make it some time in the distant future, and I had a faint memory of being seven when I got my own ears pierced, though I’ve since discovered I was way off. It was just a number I was throwing out to put off the inevitable, but Lily latched onto it as she does all things in which she’s interested. That girl is determined. So SEVEN became a beacon for her, lighting the way toward big-girldom. Toward bling.
We went to Claire’s recently on a mom and daughter date, post-donut and pre-library. And when we walked in, Lily lit up. Not like when we go to Sylas and Maddys for ice cream, or when Nana shows up as a surprise. It wasn’t just delight. It was delight, plus awe, plus let’s-get-down-to-business-here-and-look-at-EVERYTHING. Different than anything I’d witnessed in her big brown eyes before.
Sometimes Lily’s love of glitz and glamour nauseates me. Sequins and glitter and furry trim, pink and pink and more pink. It makes me want to give her a science textbook and some shin guards. Steer her away from the typical, ditzy-girl stereotypes and toward something to better her mind and heart. Make her strong, secure in herself without all the adornments. But when I saw the utter joy on her face I had a realization: I was the same way. I remembered being nearly seven and loving all things fancy. I wore my ballet skirt and dress-up clothes like uniforms, adored anything shiny or covered in organza, longed for the day I could wear make-up and painted my toe-nails glittery shades as soon as I was allowed.
I forgot that I was just as bling-loving when I was young. It’s been a long time since Hello Kitty was my preferred necklace charm. Eventually I started to love muted colors, torn jeans, less bows and more Birkenstocks. Pink wasn’t cool anymore. Black and brown and olive green were better, and by the time I was in college I was in full oversized-flannels-and-giant-overalls mode, looking less like a woman than an earth-toned, unisex blob. Make-up was silly, knowing how to “do” my hair was a waste. I focused on my mind and heart, living comfortably in my skin without the adornments.
Except that I wasn’t comfortable. I hadn’t realized the balance yet – that I could love both pink and black. Could wear a bit of make-up without looking like I just stepped off a theater stage. That having a hair style was ok, and my future husband would appreciate it. A little bling didn’t mean I was dumb, just that I liked it. I had swung to the other end of the fancy spectrum and it took a while to find my way back to the middle.
I forgot about that epic journey and wanted Lily in the mid-range with me right away. Which was silly. Just as silly as My Little Pony studs. But less fun.
So I went with it. Decided to go all in on this girl-time and do what she wanted most: to look at EVERYTHING. With interest, not the distracted “uh-huh”s I dish out so often, but real, wow-look-at-these intensity. We spent lots of time in the earrings, then the lip gloss section, then the rainbow hair extensions and chalk, and finally chose a few things to buy. When I decided to jump in it was fun. Joining in on her love of bling, just because she loves it, was good for both of us.
So yesterday the ear-piercing was a celebration. Of Lily turning seven, and of me embracing my daughter. Just as she is. She chose her birthstone for her first studs: fancy (fake) sapphires. They look lovely in her tiny little lobes. She was tough amidst the pain we suffer for beauty – tried not to cry until I said it was okay to let it out. Then she curled up to me and wept. I remember that, too. The surprise of your skin being punctured, even though you know it’s coming. I held her, rubbed her back, and congratulated her on this big event. And after a few more tears she looked up at me with her conquering eyes. She was proud of herself. Comfortable in her own skin, even with the new adornments. Which is all I ever wanted.