Heather@ThatUncomfortable Itch, wrote a piece about her fifteen year old daughter wanting a tattoo for her birthday. She also wrote about the tenaciousness of a fifteen year old and the wily campaigns they can run when there is something they WANT:
As fabulous as Cass is, she scares the hell out of me every single day. Because while she has no clue as to how stunning she is, she is well aware of her intelligence and the fact that she has more focus, stamina and energy than I do. If Cass wants something enough, she gets it. She knows I’m tired and worn from nearly 19 years of this gig. She know my weaknesses and has no hesitation in exploiting them if need be.
Reading about Heather’s tattoo dilemma reminded me of a story I’ve not yet blathered all over the Internet: When I was twenty I lived in Eugene Oregon. I was trying to find myself on the other side of the country. Hippie-filled Eugene, Oregon was where I parked my confused psyche. I fell in love with a guy who didn’t know I existed and broke the heart of the one guy who did know. I wrote horrible grief-filled poetry about my recently divorced parents. I Tried mushrooms but didn’t like tripping and time traveling and seeing colors I’d never seen before. I learned to drink caffeine or die. The Northwest’s rainy winters will kill you without caffeine. On caffeine I produced prodigious amounts of school work for my new major, sociology. I got good grades, great grades and dropped out anyway, because I had not found myself.
Instead of a degree I left Oregon with something much more useful, my beautiful tattoo:
I hadn’t eaten because I preferred my calories to be liquid. I got stupid-drunk on four beers and took a dare thought up by me, to get a tattoo. I went into transient-filled downtown Eugene, Oregon, friends in tow, to complete the dare I’d thought up. We found a tattoo artist ready to take my money and make me cooler than I’d ever been before. He insisted that I look at samples, but I knew what I wanted so I leafed through the flags and smiley faces in a bored, drunken blur before stretching out and showing the man where on my hip I wanted the tattoo of an iris (the flower). Sexy, until you get pregnant twice, stretch, shrink, stretch again. But the aesthetics of the tattoo are not really the story (nor did any ever exist except in twenty year old mind). And any imagined sexy was drained from the thing when…
Fast forward one year, I’m a nanny (for dear family friends) in Boston. I’m not a super or good nanny. I burn cookies and allow afternoon television. In fact, I allow Hard Copy, a sensational daytime news magazine. February Fourteenth, Valentines Day, cookies burning in the background, kids given chips in lieu of cookies in the foreground, TV blaring in fore-foreground, Hard Copy went undercover to Eugene, Oregon. Why? A killer had been discovered living there. I stood transfixed, smoke alarms going off, a man who had killed his wife and two children had been living out in the open. He’d owned and operated the one tattoo parlor in Eugene, Oregon. They showed a picture of him outside his shop on the one sunny day in the history of Oregon. I recognized the guy. The reporter said that the man had been enraged and blinded by a “love so violent he killed his family.” Valentines Day angle being killing for love. No way? Ask anyone who knows me. I tried to Brillo the sucker off. I felt queasy for a week and then I stopped craning my neck around to peer at the perverse little flower. I lived in denial until I had children. Okay, I had to tell my now ex husband not to mention the smudge on my hip or sleep alone, forever.
But children see you running around looking for pants and ask rude questions about cellulite, stretch marks and misshapen tattoos. I thought I was clever to tell them about the ugly tattoo. I thought my ugly tattoo was a preventative teachable moment. After all, I was inked by a mass murderer. My children would never ever want tattoos after a story like mine. Right? Wrong.
My son is learning to be a tattoo artist. He writes notes on citrus skin (because it’s close to human dermis, pig skin is the best) ”…sleeping in attic, need rest, no early noise pleeeease? love ya…” I tripped over that lemon, placed outside my door. He was scared of needles when he was little. I’m glad he recovered. To triumph over fear is always good.
Maybe Cass will get her fifteen year old tattoo. Maybe her campaign will reap the fruit she desires. But Cass’ mom knows there’s really no stopping that tattoo it’s just a matter of when. In the end, our kids will do and be what they want. My kids will. Cass will. You did. I did.