It was all smiles once Mom finally relaxed her rules about ear piercing. (Jennifer Bardsley)

It was all smiles once Mom finally relaxed her rules about ear piercing. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Ear piercing is a rite of passage — but when’s the right time?

This mom turned to the Edmonds Moms Facebook group for advice on getting her daughter’s ears pierced.

When I saw the self-portrait my daughter drew in fourth grade last fall, I was confused. “You have earrings in that picture,” I said, staring at the drawing. “But your ears aren’t pierced.”

“But they will be soon,” she answered, with a hopeful gleam in her eyes.

I frowned. We’d been over this before. “In order to get your ears pierced you need to be 10 years old or be able to get through your flu shot without flinching.”

“No problem,” my 9-year-old said.

A few weeks later, my husband brought her back from the flu shot clinic. “Well, that was dramatic.” He shook his head.

“I didn’t want my ears pierced anyway,” said my daughter. She grabbed a book to read and parked herself on the couch.

The days were slow, but the year was fast. Before I knew it, fourth grade was over.

My daughter brought a big bag of artwork home from school, and when we got to the self-portrait she said, “You can throw it away.” Then she marched upstairs to her room, grabbed a load of laundry and started it in the washing machine.

I looked at the calendar and counted the days until her 10th birthday. It seemed so unfair.

Not just that she had a summer birthday and half of her friends would be out of town by the time her party arrived, but also that she was the most responsible 9-year-old I knew and still didn’t have her ears pierced like the other girls her age. Had I been too harsh with the whole “get through your flu shot without flinching” bit? After all, I got my ears pierced when I was 8.

I looked up ear piercing in the fount of all knowledge — the Edmonds Moms Facebook group — and read a fresh litany of horror stories involving piercing guns. Most moms recommended taking their daughter to a tattoo parlor for ear piercing with needles.

“Crap,” I thought. “There’s the needle issue again. What if she flinched?” But then I read that many moms and daughters also had a good experience at a store called Silver Safari at the Alderwood mall. They didn’t use piercing guns, and would do both ears at the same time.

“Guess what?” I asked my daughter the next day. “You can get your ears pierced if you want to, even though you’re still 9.”

“Really?” First she smiled. Then she hopped up and down. When she finally stopped bouncing, there were tears in her eyes.

I’m not sure how Silver Safari compared price-wise to the other options; we paid $75. But it was worth it. Instead of guns or needles, they used two sterile cartridges that the technicians popped onto my daughter’s earlobes at the same time.

When we got home, I looked through the bag of fourth-grade artwork and took out the self-portrait. Some drawings are too important to toss.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

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