Last Saturday was my son’s 18th birthday. And at 12:01 a.m., he gave himself a gift…one of which that I have to admit, I wasn’t all too thrilled about. Now, you have to know, he’s my baby . . . all 200 pound of his six feet two inches, even down to his size-13 men’s shoe. So yeah, I know he’s not really a baby. He’s eighteen, a big boy.
A big boy when it comes to size, but not so big when it comes to needles. Seriously, I was holding his hand just a few months ago when he got a tetanus shot. “Is this going to hurt?” he asked me. “I hate shots, mama,” he said and blinked his scared, big brown eyes at me. It didn’t matter that he was big, my maternal instinct took hold and I squeezed his hand and wished I could take the shot for him. Yep, he hates needles. Which is why, I was just a bit surprised that he got a tattoo.
Now, he told me he wanted one. He’s been telling me he wanted one for years and I simple rolled my eyes and said, “Not until you’re eighteen, buster.”
Who knew eighteen would come around so soon? Who knew I wouldn’t be any more prepared to see my baby get a piece of art permanently placed on his body? Who knew that at eighteen, he’d still think it was a good idea? Not me. If I had, I would have said, “Not until your sixty, buster!”
And when he told me he was going to get one a few days before his birthday, I just laughed. I reminded him that getting a tattoo could be very painful, (yeah, I might have exaggerated a bit) that sharp needles were involved, and that it could kill him…hepatitis C, and all, and then I blew the whole idea off. Hey…mama wasn’t there to hold his hand…no way would he go through with it, right?
Now, it’s not that I’m anti-tattoo, but this is my baby. I can close my eyes and still see him running naked as a jay bird across the bedroom, laughing as I chased him down to put a diaper on him I can see every inch of his little, squirming body, every bit of sweet-smelling baby-powdered skin, unmarked, un-inked, and oh so perfect.
Just this morning, he was walking from the shower without a shirt. I couldn’t help but stare at his forearm with an eagle, part of a flag, and the word “Freedom” written underneath. Oh, he’d already shown it to me, and it’s not hideous or anything, and a T-shirt will cover it up, but seeing it unexpectedly for the first time took me by surprise.
I realize that part of my dislike of the piece of body art is that I had to come face to face with the realization that my baby was really on the threshold of becoming a man. (Not man enough to get a tetanus shot, mind you, but man enough to get a tattoo.) And right then, he even looked like a man, tall, strong, his tattoo accentuating his bicep muscles, and a certain “I’m eighteen” gleam in his eyes.
As I walked away a bit disgruntled, I remembered what my mother told me when I first asked to get my ears pierced. “If God wanted you to wear pierced earrings you would have been born with holes in your ears.”
My answer back was, “Mom, that argument doesn’t hold water, because I could say that if God wanted me to wear clothes, I wouldn’t have been born naked.”
Mom was so over protective, so ol’ fashioned. But of course, this whole tattoo thing is different. Completely, different. Right?
Okay…dang it, maybe it’s not so different. But don’t you think if that he had to get a tattoo, he could have at least had the words, “I love my mama,” put on his arm?
So…here’s my question to you. How do you guys feel about tattoos? Any of my readers have tattoos? Do you like them on your men? Any parenting advice for a mama who’s having a hard time letting go of her baby?
Crime Scene Christie