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  • The Piquant Storyteller

On Pins and Needles

Children often assume their parents live to torture them. Today was no exception. There was lots of poking and prodding after an early start to the day.


Gavin had an appointment with the dermatologist. After a year or more of trying different potions and lotions, we are at the end of the road. It's time for the hard stuff. I'm fine with it because he obviously has very stubborn acne. But I'm not fine with this treatment option because it just creates more work for me. Luckily it's one pill a day and he is under strict orders to quit all other treatments. The catch is monthly appointments with monthly blood draws. I go to the doctor often enough for myself. I'm not interested in a high maintenance kid too! There is only enough room for one of us.


He had his first lab order today. We finished up with the doctor in one building and had to drive across the street to another building - the one I live in - for labs. While I live in that building I always enter from the back, so I got a little lost trying to find the lab. I got him all checked in and we had this conversation.


Me: Have you ever had your blood drawn before? Gavin: No. I'm afraid of heroine. I would never want to use needles.

Me: That's good, but no one is injecting anything in you. They will stick a needle in your arm and take the blood out.

Gavin: Will they at least donate the blood?

Me: No, they're going to test it.

Gavin: I don't like needles.

Me: So look away. You will still feel a pinch but just look away. I have been doing this every three months since I was almost 10. It's not fun but it doesn't hurt too much. If your mother can do it, you can do it!


And with that, my firstborn was officially nervous. Too bad that declaring an aversion to elicit drug use wouldn't save him from letting the vampires have their way with him. I hate getting my blood drawn. I had it done last week and the phlebotomist was really weird. She acted like she wasn't even going to wrap my arm, much less ask me to put pressure on it. I just wanted to say, "Don't be so surprised I'm still bleeding, lady. You did stick a fat needle in my vein and filled two vials with my essence." My arm ached for about an hour afterwards.


I assume Gavin was fine. The guy came out and called his name. I just looked at Gavin and said, "That's you buddy. We'll be right here when you're done." Because there isn't space for an entourage of support. He left the self-sticking tape wrapped around his arm until we got home hours later! He had definitely clotted by then.


It worked out that Gavin's appointment was a family affair. The plan was to go out to lunch and then hit the mall for more torturous activities. We found a great Philly cheesesteak shop just up the street from the doctor's offices. I still miss the one Heath and I frequented in California. They used pickled peppers for extra tanginess and they imported their buns from Philadelphia. Good stuff. This place will do though.


Over the years, Gwen has been tossing around the idea of having her ears pierced. I am pro earrings. The reason why we haven't done it sooner is I felt she lacked desire. Some mothers have their daughters get pierced soon after birth. I get it. It's a painful procedure that is best done early before the kid has many memories to sort through later with a therapist. Personally, I'm lazy. It's one thing to save my child from the memory of someone holding a gun to their head. That comes at the cost of me keeping her ears from becoming infected and keeping the skin from growing over the studs. I'm not into all that.


When I was a kid, I wanted my ears pierced. More than anything I wanted my ears pierced. I begged and pleaded and tried to bargain with my parents. They told me I needed to be 13 years old and then they would think about it. I remember because my brother was 13 and he taunted that I would never be his age because he would always be older. Such a big brother.


At the same time, my grandma was trying to decide if she wanted to give up her clip on earrings for real pierced earrings. She concluded that if God wanted her to have holes in her head, He would have put them there Himself. This did not deter me. My begging was a daily thing until my parents gave in and let me have my way. I was 9.


I remember how much I needed to have my ears pierced. The fact that the idea came and went for Gwen was not enough for me. She needed to show either a greater desire, or some more maturity to deal with the aftermath. She will turn 11 in a couple months but she looks like she's 15. Now seemed as good a time as any. For Christmas we gave her 25 pairs of pierced earrings. She was elated.


Then I told her in great detail what she could expect. She responded to my first attempt by showing me a page in her graphic novel. It was an illustrated version of my monologue. Verbatim. Okay, so she already knew about caring for her new piercings. Good. For some reason I kept telling her how it feels. I guess I didn't want to see the accusation in her eyes when she realized it doesn't feel like the earrings were licked on by fuzzy kittens. It hurts. Only for a second though. And in that short second time also slows as I distinctly remember feeling the stud go through every layer of skin. Kind of a trippy feeling.


Parker witnessed many of our graphic conversations. He thought we were crazy. He could not understand why women would want to inflict such pain, only to learn they are allergic to most metal and their ears get infected easily! There is no response to that kind of logic. I told him that getting ears pierced is an investment. Sure there's pain for several initial years, but it gets better. This is a rite of passage for a woman. Gwen agreed. She was all in.


Until we got to the mall. The closer we got to Claire's, the more visibly pale Gwen became. She asked if they could do both ears at the same time. I have done this twice in my life, once at 9 and again at 17, and no one has ever offered me a shortcut. All four holes were done one at a time.

The first employee we found looked like a pin cushion. She had piercings all over her face. She called back to another lady who was much more conservative. The conservative lady prepped the station and prepped Gwen while I filled out all the necessary paperwork to give permission for my baby girl to be permanently marred. Then Pin Cushion lady came over to check the pen marks. One mark was redrawn three times. Finally, we all agreed they were even. They asked Gwen if she wanted them to do her ears at the same time. Pale as a ghost, Gwen could hardly speak. She managed a quick nod. Each woman grabbed a gun and assumed the position.


One … two … three … *PUNCH*

They blew the smoke from their guns and my sweet little girl had officially become a woman. The studs she chose are purple amethysts for her birth stone. Plus, she has decided that pink is so four years ago. Purple is her new favorite color! Gwen told me later that she was glad they did both ears at once. She is convinced if they did them one at a time she would not have lived through the second piercing!


Parker escaped being poked today. He had his moment a long time ago. He has had his blood drawn as a two year old. Today was all about poking the G's.

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