Things Of Which I Do Not Approve

I know it’s a little weird to fixate on this when people are out there doing vastly more abusive things to their kids, but I haven’t been able to get this story out of my mind since I ran across it a couple days ago. That poor little boy! “It’s scary. It’s scary. It’s really scary. Can we go and come back when it’s not scary.” Gah! I hate that parent so much!

  • Piercing your toddler’s ears.

We attended a 4th of July barbeque last month where we noticed a little boy, barely old enough to walk—not quite old enough to navigate stairs—who was sporting a bright little earring. I privately disapproved, but apparently it’s a widespread trend: there’s a sign at our pediatrician’s office that says “Ask us about ear piercing!”

Maybe I’m just a prude, but body modification before the age of four??? I mean, I know he can let the piercing grow in, but it still leaves a mark. I feel like the kid should get to make his own decisions about permanent cosmetic alterations. What’s next, toddler tattooing?

And now, I’m off to make my own bad parenting decisions so that other people can criticize me on their blogs. It’s the Circle of Life, Internet-style.

8 Responses to “Things Of Which I Do Not Approve”

  • molly Says:

    i know in some native american cultures it is a rite of passage. but you also have to give a horse for each hole to the person piercing the ears. there is a big ceremony and everything, and it is supposed to be done young.

    just, you know, some food for thought. 🙂

  • shannon Says:

    Not sure about tribal practices in the horse cultures–I know the Lakota “sun dance” ceremony is pretty famous for involving a lot of body piercing, but so far as I know that only involves adults. Indians from India apparently have a ceremony for piercing children’s ears, and it sounds rather lovely:

    “Parents would arrange for a goldsmith known to them to arrive on an auspicious day and at an auspicious time and have the baby bathed and dressed in a new dress. After a small puja, with the rest of the family hovering around nervously, the mother would settle down on the floor in front of the goldsmith with the baby in her lap and the baby’s arms held firmly in her own hands.

    “The goldsmith would have his minimal paraphernalia ready – coconut oil and two thin, delicate, pointy needles made of gold about an inch long. He would dab the baby’s ear lobes with the coconut oil and pick up one of the gold needles and pierce one of the lobes with it. Right on cue, the baby would start bawling, but the goldsmith would move quickly to complete the process with the other ear lobe. The ends would be left hanging until the baby had calmed down sufficiently when the goldsmith would quickly twist them locked.

    “This would be followed by an arathi where two of the older women in the family waved a plate, with turmeric and kumkum mixed with water, in a circular motion three times in front of the mother and baby to ward off the evil eye.

    “A few days later, the goldsmith would replace the gold needles with earrings or studs of the parents’ (or mother and grandmother’s) choice.”


    The kid we observed, and all the kids in the pediatrician’s office, were lily-white, and I seriously doubt the practice had any particular cultural weight for them. It’s one thing if it’s a practice invested with cultural significance that ties the child to previous generations and yadda yadda. It’s another when you’re doing painful, permanent things to your kid’s body just because you think it looks sorta cool.

  • Zach Says:

    How about circumcision?

  • shannon Says:

    Not included in the general scope of my remarks. We chose not to circumcise, but there are legitimate health reasons to do so, as well as the religions/cultural ones.

  • Nina Says:

    The ear piercing is an interesting question. I personally find pierced ears in small children to be unattractive, even bothersome. And I can easily see the argument about the painful/permanent.

    However, I’m not making these judgments in a vacuum. Where I grew up, pierced ears in small children were a marker for a lower socioeconomic class. It was seen as trashy. And so I’m suspicious of my own reactions here.

    Suspicious or not, though, I do find it yucky. It conflicts with the child-aesthetic I like, which draws a very strong boundary between adultish things and childish things. Miniature adult clothing, logos and brands all = bleah. With the exception of tiny little Converse sneakers, which are always great.

  • shannon Says:

    I think it’s interesting that all the commentators have taken up the pierced-ears question, as it’s the scary-movie story that actually bothered me a lot more.

    Nina, on the piercings you’re not wrong: I do also think it looks trashy. Although I had not seen it, or at least not consciously noticed it, before now, so I was under the impression it was a new trend, and the child we observed was definitely of privileged socioeconomic status. I guess it makes sense that it’s been going on for a while, but it isn’t anything that I heard my parents or friends remarking on when I was growing up.

  • Nina Says:

    I think that’s because the scary-movie thing is unambiguously wrong, whereas the pierced-ear thing is ambiguously wrong — and thus more interesting to discuss!

    I really can’t think of a single argument in favor of taking small children to scary movies, wtf. Although I did notice that the comments on that article made reference to the inappropriate scariness of Lord of the Rings — if I’d been sub-age-13 when that came out, you could not have kept me away from the theater. but slasher flicks? just no.

  • Jessie Says:

    The other day I saw one of those babies that still looks like a fetus, and SHE had pierced ears. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

    Someone told me it’s a Catholic thing to pierce babies’ ears, and this often seems to be true. Why, I don’t know.

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