My daughter will never forget that she had to wait for pierced ears until she was 13—especially since the rest of her friends’ ears were already adorned. As her 13th birthday approaches, her excitement builds and we both look forward to a new stage of her life.
I didn’t get pierced ears until I was 16. My mother brought me to a doctor who punched my ears in the safety of his office, the nurse lending me support. Since then, a friend gave me another ear piercing by sticking a needle through to an apple. Then there was the time my husband and I went to the mall, to each pierce one hole.
So I knew this was an important coming-of-age ritual for girls. But as I watched my daughter’s dad hand her everything on a platter, I grew weary of satisfying her every wish. At the tender age of 11, my girl had a limo rented for her birthday, courtesy of her father. How will she celebrate when she’s 18 and graduates from high school, I wondered?
Given her Dad’s indulgent precedents and her friends’ already-pierced ears, my daughter would periodically whine over the years for pierced ears. “Katie has her ears pierced, why do I have to wait?” She groaned, cried, and lamented. And I wouldn’t budge. I saw her girlfriends growing up at quantum speed and it saddened me. I wanted to slow her down, let her appreciate the things she did have, let her appreciate life. Helping girls learn to wait seemed more important than ever. The whining suspended at 12, when I informed her that if it continued, I would extend our arrangement.
As she approaches her 13th birthday, we prepare for the special day. We plan to visit the mountains and stay in a hotel, checking out all the cool shops in town. Finally, on her birthday—which is also Mother’s Day—she gets what she has waited so patiently for. A big smile graces her radiant face. She nearly jumps to the ceiling. And I certainly don’t wish, even for a moment, that I had said yes to her earlier requests. Some things are worth waiting for.
Ruth Suli Urman is a freelance writer living in Denver.