The Story of My Teenager and Her Body Piercings
At 16, my daughter, Hayley, decided she needed a new way to express her individuality. She asked if she could get her belly button pierced. I was not thrilled with the prospect, but I was happy to see that she was still openly communicating with me, particularly since she was a teenager. Hayley had a car and she had a job, she could have easily gone through with this notion without my permission or my knowledge. I was impressed with the respect she showed by coming to me first to discuss her ideas and get my opinion.
Since I knew people with pierced belly buttons, I knew that this trend could be temporary. Unlike piercing your ears, the opening made for a belly button ring will never fully heal around the ring. The opening begins to close after only a few days without the ring. At the very worst, Hayley would end up with a tiny scar above her belly button, once she decided she was through with having to care for the piercing every day. I also knew that due to my Hayley’s school and work schedule, and with the winter season approaching, there would be little time or inclination to parade around in a bathing suit, the only clothing she owned that would allow anyone to see her piercing. After negotiating the type of jewelry that would be acceptable for her age, I gave Hayley permission to get her belly button pierced.
All of a sudden, I was considered “the cool mom” to all of my daughter’s friends, the mom I had mocked in my early parenting experience. I didn’t (and still don’t) consider myself a “cool mom.” If you ask either of my daughters, they will tell you that I am cool about some things and strict about other things, parenting down the middle. Hayley was fully aware that if her grades were not as good as they were and she if she had not continued to display responsible behavior in school and at work, she wouldn’t have a chance of negotiating some of these teenager requests and desires with me. I was able to prove that point to my daughter the spring of Hayley’s junior year.
As spring break approached, Hayley came to me with the idea of now getting her nose pierced. The idea of this thrilled me much less that the belly button idea, especially since this piercing would be smack dab in the middle of her face. I spoke with my own mother about the situation and we discussed some different ideas about how this could be approached with Hayley. My mother came up with a great compromise that I could present to my daughter.
So I sat down with my Hayley to have another conversation/negotiation session. Once it was established that she really wanted to get her nose pierced, we started discussing what kind of jewelry she would want to wear in her nose. I pictured large ornate designs that would hang down and eventually lead her to wanting to get her lip pierced so that she could wear one of those nose rings that has a chain hanging down and connected to a ring in her lip. Hayley assured me that she wanted nothing more than a tiny stud and that she would not wear anything of substantial size. The next item we needed to discuss was the county dress code for school. If her tiny nose stud bothered a teacher, Hayley would have to remove the jewelry without complaining or arguing. Again, my daughter was reassuring, stating that many students had their noses pierced and that it was generally not an issue with the dress code and the teachers as long as the stud was small.
I finally decided to make my Hayley the offer that mother had suggested. Hayley’s GPA had fallen to a 3.5 that spring. So my offer went something like this: she would have to get her grades up to a 4.0 by spring break, and the grades had to stay there through the end of the school year. If that happened, and Hayley still wanted to get her nose pierced at that time, I would allow it. My thought process was to leverage my daughter’s want into something she needed in the GPA, while giving her a 3 month window to think about whether she really wanted to get this piercing or not. If after achieving a 4.0 GPA and taking that much time to rethink her decision, Hayley still wanted to get her nose pierced, I would have no good reason to say no. Hayley agreed to the deal and it was on!
Spring break rolled around and Hayley had pulled her grades up to a 4.0 GPA, now the wait would begin. She had six weeks and her year-end finals to get through, keeping her grades in tact along the way. When Hayley came bouncing through the door after her last day as a high school junior, she had kept her 4.0 GPA and her end of the bargain. I asked her if she still wanted to get her nose pierced, and she said yes. I immediately headed for the car, took her to a safe and clean establishment that I had already checked out and signed the parental waiver form. I waited in the car for Hayley to finish up, I couldn’t bring myself to watch, but I had to keep my end of the bargain too.
To this day, Hayley still has a stud in her nose, but she has also kept her promise of keeping the jewelry small and tasteful. She has had to deal with issues at school, particularly in her culinary class, regarding her nose stud. Hayley quickly learned which teachers would tolerate it and which ones wouldn’t. She found a solution that made everyone happy; she wore a clear plastic stud in her nose during the school day. Her makeup covered the small stud so that none of the teachers noticed it, and she was able to abide by the rules of her culinary class regarding facial piercings with metal jewelry. Hayley looks great with her tiny nose stud and my parents even admit that she looks pretty cute with it, it’s like she always has a piece of glitter on the side of her nose, all of the time. Hayley’s grandfather actually took a picture, a close up profile shot that was centered on the stud in my daughter’s nose. Hayley, in return, entered the picture in a scholarship contest, where the requirement was for her to provide a photo highlighting her best physical feature.