Our ear piercing adventure

If you had asked me a year ago when I planned to get Zoe’s ears pierced, I would have likely said “When she asks… I’m in no hurry,” or I may have joked that 35 seemed like a good age. As a kid, I had to wait interminably long – until I was 11 or 12 – and while I didn’t think we’d wait that long with Zoe, I also never thought we’d do it as young as 5.

But last month, that’s exactly what we just did – a few weeks before her big 6th birthday so they’d be healed in time for her party. Ultimately, I don’t regret it, because she’s super happy with her pieced ears, it was a quick and fairly painless procedure and her ears have healed wonderfully fast. But I hadn’t expected it to be so horrible and so hard, seeing my sweet baby’s ears pierced right before my eyes!

In hindsight, I do wish we had taken a little more time than we did as a family to decide on the right time, pick the right place, etc.

Our experience ended up being quite a bit more rushed than I would have liked and overall I wasn’t in love with how they handled things at Sweet and Sassy Polaris. My hubby wrote about it on Yelp if you want to see his take. It wasn’t an awful experience, it just wasn’t what I wanted for her. That said – her experience is what matters most, and if you ask her now, she will tell you it was GREAT, didn’t hurt at all, and she highly recommends it! In the moment, however, she had a slightly different take – and so did we.

It all started around Christmas time when Zoe received two beautiful pairs of pierced earrings from her Aunt Bren. Up until this point, she loved playing with clip-on or even stick-on earrings but when asked if she wanted her ears pierced, she would yelp “No way!” and grab her ear lobes. This child has never liked shots – and who in their right mind would voluntarily submit themselves to a needle stick right THROUGH a body part? Ewww.

But when she saw those gorgeous little earrings AND some of her friends started getting theirs pierced – plus she started to notice all the friends who had them pierced as babies – she began to express interest in having hers done. She started out by asking me what it feels like, so I would pinch her ear lobe quite sharply to show her. “Ouch!” she would say, “Never mind!”

Then over time her resolve to have them pierced steeled her nerves – she would ask me for a pinch and then say “That didn’t hurt at all! I’m ready!” This went on for a few months until we started talking about her big 6th birthday coming up and asking her what she’d like. She convinced us that what she really, truly wanted was to have her ears pierced. She even badgered me for not having pierced them when she was an infant. “I wanted them pierced then, Mommy! Why didn’t you do it then, so I would be able to wear earrings now?!”

Under the intense pressure of constant and well-thought out arguments and rhetoric that only an almost-five year old can deliver, I made some inquiries and found that Sweet and Sassy was a popular choice for first ear piercings. The website made it sound like they make a real celebration of it – more than your average mall piercing. Yes, of course I know that the “right”¬†way to be pierced is with a needle and not a gun, but I just wasn’t ready to waltz my little soon-to-be five year old into Evolved. Not yet. The gun worked for me and how many countless other earlobes – I was fairly certain it would be just fine for her first time as well.

And when we walked into Sweet and Sassy, I liked what I saw. As she picked out her earrings and chatted with the store employee, I felt comfortable. Getting her ears pierced surrounded by stuffed animals, sparkly rainbows and girly things felt right to me. She sat on a stool, had the marks put on her ears and all seemed fine. But that’s when the whole thing became somewhat surreal and time sped up, like in a dream or a movie.

I saw fear and panic on my little girl’s face, so I started to get anxious too (and E began to have second thoughts at the same time). I opened my mouth to ask the two piercers if they would count to three, go slow and take their time, but it was too late – they were pretty much on auto-pilot and did what they had been trained to do or what they felt worked best. Instead of going slowly, showing her the piercing guns, talking her through the process and giving her time to take some breaths and count with them – they hid the guns behind their backs, got into position and swiftly launched themselves at the targets on her earlobes. It felt a bit more like a tactical assault than I would have liked – very quick and ruthless. Z was a bit panicky and cried out “Wait!” and I was waiting for them to count to three, but instead they both just clicked the trigger and it was over.

Zoe immediately wailed and went into what I can only assume was some level of shock – she was *really* upset and couldn’t catch her breath for a minute or two. But we walked her away from the front of the store toward the mirrors, and as soon as she saw her reflection, the tears stopped and she started smiling. She was in love with her new sparkly birthstone earrings!

I’m sure the piercers have seen this happen 100 times and felt that the end would justify the means, and that fast is best – like ripping off a bandaid – but slow still would have been my preference.

I’ve experienced a very similar thing from jaded nurses at our pediatrician’s office – they want to go fast and just get the shots done, when Zoe is asking for a little time to breathe and prepare herself. I get that they don’t have all day to wait on anxious kiddos, but a little patience and tenderness would be appreciated. Based on the Sweet and Sassy website promos, we expected glitter, a certificate with a photo, etc. and we got none of that. She was given a lollypop, but that’s it. Overall, it’s just the same quick, no frills, wham-bam piercing experience as you’ll find at any mall piercing place. I was hoping for a bit more magic!

Bottom line, it was okay – not the best and certainly not the worst ear piercing experience. Z is perfectly happy with the end result – even made us this adorable thank you card depicting her experience! – and they have healed like a dream with zero pain from day one, so I honestly cannot complain. That said, there’s no going back after something like this so it makes sense to think it through and take some time to find the right place – even if that waiting seems like torture to your little one.

So have you gotten your little one’s ears pierced – and how did it go? I’d love to hear your ear piercing tales – good, bad and everything in between. Let’s hear ’em in the comments below or over on Facebook.

About the author

Proud and loving mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Writer since birth. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.


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