So about a year ago, then-9-year-old C started asking to get her ears pierced. And as soon as C started asking, then 6-year-old G started saying that she wanted her ears pierced too. I asked Jon what he thought and he didn’t really have an opinion so he kind of left the decision up to me.

I have to say that I am always somewhat bothered when I see babies and little toddlers with pierced ears because I still remember how much it hurt when I got my own  ears pierced (with a piercing gun) when I was 12 or 13 years old. It really hurt. I worry that babies and toddlers can’t tell anyone how much it hurts when they get theirs pierced. But I digress…

Anyway, so the girls started saying that they wanted their ears pierced and Jon and I discussed it a little bit and I started looking around to see whether any of the girls’ friends had pierced ears – girls at school and at dance class and on playdates – and I noticed that quite a few of them did indeed have pierced ears. I tried to remember where and when we had 22 year old J’s ears pierced but (bad mother alert here) I literally couldn’t remember one detail of J’s ear piercing.

Ultimately, I decided that C and G could go ahead and get it done, and that’s what I told them. They were psyched. But I didn’t know where you get little girls’ ears pierced. I thought I remembered that Claire’s at the mall pierces ears but I wasn’t sure if that was the best place to go. So I did what I do and I asked my friends on Facebook whether any of them had had their little girls’ ears pierced and if so, where they went to have it done. Some people confirmed what I thought and said Claire’s at the mall was the place to go while others recommended going to a tattoo parlor (!!!) which is something I’d never even considered, having never been in a tattoo parlor.

I talked to my sister Betsy about it and she said it was Claire’s all the way. She said that at Claire’s they have hundreds of earrings for little girls to choose from and they really know what they’re doing there. She also said that my niece NC, who is the same age as C also wanted her ears pierced so she offered to take all 3 girls to Claire’s to have the deed done.

Claire's ear piercing

So one day about 6 months ago, off went Aunt Betsy, C, G and NC to the mall for ear piercing while I stayed home and worked on a project I had due. I gave Betsy the money for C and G’s ear piercing and it was waaaay more than I expected it to cost. Claire’s advertises their ear piercing as “free” with the purchase of a “starter kit” which turned out to be  6 or 10 pairs of super cheap little stud earrings plus an antiseptic aftercare solution to dab on the girls’ newly pierced ears for several weeks after the piercing. But it really wasn’t “free” at all. As I recall, it cost, like, upwards of $30 per girl to have the piercing done.

But when the girls got home from Claire’s and I saw how happy they were, it seemed like money well spent. Both of them looked very cute with their newly pierced ears and they each carefully placed their “starter kit” new earrings in their respective jewelry boxes and they put their bottles of aftercare solution on the dresser next to their bunkbeds.

And they were good about using the antiseptic solution each day to dab onto their ears every morning and evening to keep their newly poked-through ears clean and bacteria-free. Even if I almost forgot to do it any night before bedtime, the girls would remind me and we’d clean their ears. They knew that they couldn’t take the starter earrings out for six weeks and they were fine with that.

But then, one morning, disaster. I heard G crying hysterically in her room and I ran in to see what could be wrong. She sobbingly pulled her blond, wispy hair back and showed me one of her ears. The lobe was inflated and an angry red, plus the little stud earring that had been securely fastened only the day before was now hanging loose, about to fall out, and around the hanging chad of an earring, the pierced hole was oozing something yucky.

I could see that the earring wasn’t going to go back into that hole without some pain, if it would even go back at all, considering how swollen the lobe looked. But I could also see that pulling it the rest of the way out would also be no picnic for the skinny little elf in her Sofia the First nightgown, crying her eyes out. But I figured that considering the state of her ear, the earring did need to come out so we could adequately address the obvious infection that had set in. So I explained to G that I would need to take her earring out so that we could really clean and sanitize her ear.

“No! No! No!,” she screamed. “Don’t take my earring out!”

This is where I called for Jon who is way, way, way better than I am at calming G down in all situations. He heard me hollering for him and G sobbing and he came into the girls’ bedroom to see what was going on. He sat down next to G on her bed and pulled her onto his lap and inspected her ear. He looked at me and then looked at the ear again and told G what I’d just told her: the barely-hanging-on earring needed to come out.

“Don’t worry honey,” he said, “we’ll put it right back in when your ear is all better.”

Because it was Jon telling her this instead of me, she stopped crying, wiped her eyes and nodded her agreement. So Jon carefully pulled the earring the rest of the way out of her ear and then we poured some of the aftercare solution onto a cotton ball, dabbing it all around the lobe of her ear. Once the earring was out and we’d cleaned her ear up, G happily hopped off Jon’s lap and ran off to play. I put the single earring in G’s unicorn-themed jewelry box in anticipation of putting it back in her ear soon.

Over the next few days we swabbed G’s ear several times a day and the swelling went down and the pus stopped oozing from the pierced hole. But yeah, about that pierced hole, well it immediately started to close right back up. I began to wonder how we were going to get that earring back into that ear.

After about a week, with G’s ear looking all better, I suggested to her that we try to get that earring back into that ear. Nope, she said happily. What do you mean “nope,” I asked. She explained that she no longer wanted an earring in that ear. But honey, I explained, you don’t want to have just one earring in one ear, right? Yes she did, she told me. It hurt to have an earring in the ear that got infected and she never wanted it to hurt again. I explained to her that it had only hurt because it got infected but that now that it wasn’t infected, it wouldn’t hurt any more. (I kind of felt like a liar at this point because I could see the pushing that little earring back into that tiny, closing-up hole wasn’t going to be much fun for anyone). But I didn’t have to worry about getting the earring back into her ear because she simply refused to let me even try.

Over the next week or two I asked her repeatedly whether we could try to get that earring back into her ear, even as I could see that the hole in her ear was becoming almost completely closed up. And she continued to say no, she only wanted one earring in one ear. Her good ear. The one that hadn’t gotten infected. I offered to take her back to Claire’s and let the pros there get the earring back into her ear but she declined this offer as well.

Now it’s been months since we removed the earring from the infected ear  and G still has what she said she wanted after the infection incident: only one earring in one ear. The “bad ear” is all healed and is clearly no longer pierced at all. It’s completely closed up and returned to its pre-pierced state. I wonder sometimes whether her teacher or dance instructor or other people ever notice the single earring thing and finds it weird for a 7 year old but what can I do? I’m not going to force her to re-pierce her ear. When it comes to poking holes in your children’s bodies, unless it’s required surgery, I think it should be up to the child to decide (Which is another reason why piercing babies’ ears always kind of bothers me. They can’t decide for themselves.)

So yeah, G now proudly sports one pierced ear. She actually really likes the way the single piercing looks. She’s changed out the original earring for one of the other little stud earrings she got from Claire’s and we’ve had no more issues with swollen ear lobes or oozy pierced holes. The “good ear” continues to be good.

Maybe she’ll start a new trend among her second grade pals. Or maybe at some point she’ll ask to have the other ear re-pierced. But for now she’s kind of like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean or some middle aged guy embarrassingly trying to reclaim his youth via a single ear piercing.

So yes, my 7 year old sports one earring in one ear. And it’s kind of growing on me.


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