Think before you ink

by | May 31, 2017 1:11 am

Last Updated: May 30, 2017 at 1:22 am

Most teens these days want to get a tattoo the minute they feel they are able. I guess it’s a coming-of-age thing. When we choose to get a tattoo at an older age, it tends to be more of a sentimental thing.
We know that teens usually think only of the present day; there is no tomorrow. Feeling socially accepted or “fitting in” adds an incentive for the teen to desire a tattoo at some point in his or her experience. Is it because we used to put a quarter in those little machines outside the grocery stores to get our little ones those stick-on tattoos so that they’ll calm down? Nineties America, did we ruin our teens?
I have a tattoo myself, but after the age of 40, there is no desire to “fit in.”
It tends to be more of a sentimental choice.
My 18 year old had been asking my husband and me for a tattoo since he was 16. Each time he asked, reminded me of that famous movie verse – “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.” I managed to put him off for two years, but I knew “that day” would come.
And you know that day will come!
After many lectures about safe tattooing practices, why you should never let a friend tattoo you, why a girl’s name is never a good choice, etc., one can only hope that your teen would make the right choice from there.
My daughter chose to have a tattoo when she was 21. She was stationed in Hawaii after joining the Navy. She consulted us and expressed how excited she was to have chosen a pretty floral tattoo to be placed on her lower back.
My husband told her she has our blessings as long as it didn’t say the words “Welcome home, troops.”
My eldest son chose his tattoos wisely, picking his favorite North Carolina football team as a sleeve on his left hand. My middle son, Allen, well, he had a few humorous, misshapen spelling words on the sleeve he chose. It seemed that his tattoo artist at the time was thinking about other things while they were handing out spelling exercises at school.
For that reason, we encouraged our teens to be patient and to think before the ink. My youngest son, at 18, met a new friend in the neighborhood. It seemed that the timing for this friend to move near to us was not good.
“That day” was about to be here. I knew it and felt it.
“Mom, I met this new friend and he has the coolest tattoos,” my youngest said.
“Hold on until your 19th birthday, and we will take you to a reputable place to get it done,” I said. “In the meantime, take your time to choose something that you will like looking at for the rest of your life.”
That evening, he was late for his curfew for the very first time in his short curfew career. When he finally returned home, 30 minutes late, he chimed the words, “I love you mom, I’m having an early night,” as he quickly shut his bedroom door.
I instantly knew that I had lost my youngest kid to the Ink. I could choose to be angry, or I could choose to dig around and find some sort of humor in all of this. It took some digging. I dug deep into the dark abyss of a mother’s section of the brain, where she keeps all the things that she never wants to go through with her kids – ever. I found a little flicker of light in that place that evening. I pulled that flicker to the top of my brain and used it to seal that little crack in my heart.
I fanned that flicker into a flame. That flame brought the humor I needed so that I could keep my blood pressure down.
I tossed and turned that evening trying to sleep, but all I could wonder was if my son did, in fact, “shoot his eye out.” Did he? I got out of the bed and headed to his room.
“Got something to tell me, son?” I asked
I opened his room door ready to rage war.
The sheer look of terror on his face as he slowly pulled his arm under the blanket was all I needed to find peaceful revenge that night.
Well, the next day came and I totally ignored that tattoo, that eyesore. That inking of a terrible drawing of a cross on his arm. The terror and anguish that he experienced that day at my ignorance toward his tattoo calmed the rage that I felt deep down in the pit of my existence.
I enjoyed the blank confused stares he gave me from time-to-time at my calm disposition throughout the day. I hugged him after a while as a gesture of sympathy for all the comments he was about to endure from the world regarding his tattoo.
We did since talk about the tattoo. His older brother took pity on him and told him that he would take him somewhere to fix it for his birthday when he goes to visit.

Sharon Hall is a very patient mother at times.

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