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Children / Humor / Motherhood

The Great Ear Piercing: Why This Rite of Passage is Painful (On Many Levels)

The Great Ear Piercing: Why This Rite of Passage is Painful (On Many Levels)

I recently had a conversation with a friend about getting her daughter’s ears pierced and it brought back a flood of memories.

Once upon a time, I was only kidding when I said the following to my daughter:

“Hey, Sweetie. Do you think you want to try to get your ears pierced again?”
“Yes, Mom. I think I am ready.”

Ready for what? Another meltdown that resulted in my anxiety attack?

I haven’t had an iron-clad rule like some parents when my child should get her ears pierced. I had mine done in kindergarten and we made the same attempt a few years ago when my daughter was the same age during a family visit to Canada. I was rather indifferent when my sister-in-law Jane suggested it and my daughter was game so we headed over to the mall.

But then she saw The Devil’s Gun that was aimed at her virgin lobe.

Our first mistake was not returning when there were two staffers who could shoot the gun synchronously at each ear. The second mistake was being there in the first place.

An hour later, we emerged from that store with a traumatized mother and a hysterical kid who only got half an ear pierced (a feat only achieved by a Tasmanian devil whirlwind). Since that time, she developed an irrational fear of needles and two people needed to hold her down during immunizations shots.

As the Great Ear Piercing approached, her apprehension rose and the night prior, she had a nightmare that they refused to pierce her ears because she didn’t have curly hair. As a possessor of curly locks, I deemed such “discrimination” would be my dreamland.

The next day we went to Colorado Mills and I told her she was in charge. “I want to get my ears pierced,” she brazenly told the staffer at Claire’s. The women swiftly seated her, let her pick out her starter earrings and I choked down the cost of her diamond 5 mm selection. I was now invested on many levels.

“Now, as soon as I open these earrings, you can’t back out,” she warned my daughter.
“OK,” she squeaked, her confidence faltering.

A darling 2-year-old stood waiting for her turn, marveling at us. I turned to the parents. “I’d strongly advise you not to let her see this. It may get ugly.”

It’s best not to prematurely traumatize the littles.

They ushered her away, my daughter grabbed my hand in a death-grip, the staffers positioned themselves, counted down and shot. After three years of build-up, I braced myself for the fallout and then there was…nothing. No scream. No meltdown. Just pain, shock and then jubilation.

She let go of my throbbing hand. “Are they really pierced?” she inquired.

“You did it,” I whispered, beaming with pride she had overcome a major fear. As far as I was concerned, those diamond earrings were as good as gold.

And almost as expensive. But I’ll take it.

Do you have an ear-piercing policy and minimal age?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Lol! Your story is much like my daughters first ear piercing in 1992. 🙂

  2. Bwhaha! When we went, there was a long line of girls. 90% of them dropped off when they saw the first girl go. My daughter proudly did it. Such a funny rite of passage.

  3. I know a lot of people are against it but we did our daughters when they were babies. Quick, fast, they were over it in seconds and without the fallout. No regrets here.

  4. Wendy–That’s too funny. The girls before us ended up bailing. I saw my daughter falter for a moment and thought it was over, too. 🙂

  5. Karen–I have a few friends who’ve pierced their baby’s ears. I personally don’t have a problem with it. My only concern is they wouldn’t be able to take care of them. And my wild baby girl was always tugging on her ears (and everything for that matter). I’m sure she would have yanked them out.

  6. My daughter has wanted to get her ears pierced for years and I’ve held off from fear of the dreaded meltdown. However, after her amazing courage at the dentist with a tooth extraction I’m thinking when we do go for piercings it will be easy!

    You’re story is hilarious, Amber! I’m sure your daughter is beyond thrilled for overcoming her fear and admiring the new bling!

  7. Heather–This may be her moment. Jump on it now. 🙂

  8. Madiebeartri–1992. 2013. Some things just stay the same!

  9. Our oldest chose it when she was turning three, she thought the concept of holes in her ears was cool. She was excited and had no issues. I guess whenever they want it.

  10. We pierced both our daughters at about 4 months. They didn’t even know they had ears at that point so they never touched them and they never got infected. I remember sitting in Claire’s scared as heck to get mine done, I didn’t want my girls having to do that. Now they choose their own styles and I’m happy we did them when we did.

  11. My daughter is 8 and has not wanted them pierced yet. Her cousins had them done when they were babies. Sometimes I think that is a better idea, but ultimately it should be my daughter’s decision whether she wants holes in her ears or not. (plenty of adults don’t have them pierced!) Mine were pierced during middle school, or the latter elementary years, I really don’t remember.

  12. I wasn’t allowed to have my ears pierced until I was 10. I’m thinking age 7 or 8?

  13. I had to be 13, and am trying to have my daughters wait until they are 10. My oldest is 7 and already begging. I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say about what is the right age.

  14. Congrats to your daughter!

    We know that place well. We went there on a day with only 1 technician. It was ugly for a moment. Well, two moments.

    So pretty!

  15. I remember asking to get my ears pierced when I was 4 and my Mom made me wait until my 5th birthday, the anticipation and excitement of having to wait made it so much better. My daughter is now 4 1/2 and is asking, so we are also going to wait until her 5th birthday to pierce her ears!

  16. I’ll be honest. I used piercing as a bribery tactic. During Spring Break of my daughter’s first grade year (last year/age 6), I was losing my patience with her hair. She wanted it long but was a little lax in the care department, resulting in a many a morning hair-drama as I tried to comb-out tangles galore from her very thick, wavy head of hair. She’d wanted her ears pierced for awhile & I’d been stalling so I told her if she’d cut her hair into a chin-length bob, I’d let her go under the gun. Haircut was first and she cried – thought it was too short. Luckily she got over it in about 15 minutes. Then it was off to the mall for piercing. Let me tell you I was thrilled to learn about the two guns at one time technique that was nowhere to be found in my 1980’s Claire’s days. Anyway – they counted down, squeezed the trigger, she looked a little shocked, and then the biggest grin ever. Cried about the hair, shrugged off the needles. I guess it just depends how bad they want it!

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