If I had a pound for every time someone had scowled at my daughter during her first year of life, I’d be a very rich woman already.
On the surface, she’s the most inoffensive little bundle in the world; a mess of brown curls, chubby legs and gummy smile. She’s the type of baby that strangers lean over the pram to coo over – but as soon as they do, they notice something else about my daughter, and instantly their joy turns to disdain.
The ‘problem’ is that she has a small diamond stud twinkling in each tiny lobe – an addition that seems to most people to instantly equate to me being a ‘bad mum’. But actually, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with piercing a baby’s ears, and I refuse to apologise for choosing to get hers done when she was six months old.
The subject first came up because my husband is from a culture where children get their ears pierced at a young age – it’s simply seen as the ‘done thing’ in his family, but ultimately, he left the decision up to me. I did my research, weighed it up, and concluded that it was much safer and less stressful to get them done when she was small enough not to understand what was happening.
When it did actually happen (yes, in a sterile environment and yes, with hypoallergenic metal) she cried for about 30 seconds, and then fell straight to sleep in my arms – no where near as traumatic as the experience of the pre-teen girls I’ve seen in the window of the local Claire’s Accessories, sobbing when they realise that the piercings they’ve been begging for for months are actually going to hurt.
Plus, older children may be old enough to ask for holes in their earlobes, but often still not old enough to understand the importance of taking care of them properly, without fiddling with them constantly and risking infection.
When my daughter’s ears were healing, she didn’t even know there was anything to fiddle with. Her piercings are clean, neat, and free from problems, something that I imagine would have been harder to maintain if she were six years, for instance, instead of six months.
I have no regrets about getting her ears pierced, even though I’ve been subjected to all of the negative comments you can imagine as a result. Some people say it looks common or tacky (really nice comments to make about a baby, I’m sure you’ll agree), whilst others have said it’s on a par with child abuse – a term which I firmly believe people should stop throwing around so lightly.
I love my daughter with all of my heart, and for someone to suggest that getting her ears pierced is tantamount to cruelty breaks it into pieces. There are parents out there who do utterly horrible things to their children, but choosing to get her ears pierced doesn’t make me one of them. I can’t argue that she felt no pain at all, but it was brief, done in the kindest way possible, and something she’ll never remember anyway.
If she grows up and decides she doesn’t want pierced ears, I’ll have no problem letting her take her earrings out and letting the holes close over – the choice will always be hers. But if she grows up and loves to wear earrings, I like to think that she’d be grateful that the holes are there, ready made, with no recollection of any pain or fear she went through whilst getting them.
I’m raising a happy, well-adjusted, much-adored little girl who happens to have pierced ears. And if you think that makes me a bad mum, I don’t need you – or your dirty looks – around me and my baby anyway.