We had the boys and earrings conversation today and I’m a bit unsure of how to proceed.
My boy is 9 and a half and has developed a personality that likes to “stand out from the crowd”, as he puts it.
As part of this personality, he’s taken to wearing a short-brimmed hat when we go out to special occasions. He gets used to people remarking on his hat and he likes the attention.
Last night, he says to me: “Wow, no one has said anything about my hat yet. That’s unusual. Eventually, someone will say something.”
Later in the evening, the musician playing next to our table saw we were enjoying his tunes. Between songs, he leaned over and said to my son: “I like your hat.” The boy beamed, his smile saying “See, I told you.”
Now he wants an earring to add to his charm, good looks and stylish dress habits.
We like to think we’re fairly progressive parents when it comes to lifestyles and we’re cool with earrings. We’ve talked about the time I tried to pierce my ear back in my twenties. Problem was, it never healed properly so I was constantly dealing with bleeding and gross ooze. Maybe I was allergic or just not meant for piercings, so I let it heal over and moved on.
(Well, more accurately, I adapted to an ear cuff that slipped over the side of my ear and had a little dangling amethyst crystal. No piercing, no fuss, and I could remove it when I didn’t want to fly my freak flag.)
The bigger issue is the whole standing out from the crowd. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but kids can be cruel to anyone who is different for any reason.
My boy used to wear a ring, probably in retrospect an early manifestation of this standing out from the crowd thing. But that didn’t turn out so well.
But we wanted him to think it through and prepare himself for how he might be treated by the conforming masses might confront him.
We did a Google search and found some boys with earrings.
“J Beebs has two, cool,” Ben said, seeing the Beibs with both ears pierced. Beckham also sports two earrings as well as Will Smith, “oh, that guy from Men in Black”. Maybe Zac Efron was sporting one in an image we found. We also stumbled onto Chris Anderson, but that’s a whole other conversation.
So, not that many guys with earrings as role models. Certainly, not too many kids.
But I wanted to know how he would he handle it when the kids at school made fun of him or accused him of being gay because he wore earrings.
We watch Modern Family and have lots of gay friends, so he knows being gay is great if that’s what you are.
“Not many boys have earrings and the kids may say you’re gay. How will you respond to that?” I asked him.
“Just because you have an earring doesn’t mean you’re gay, dad.” OK, I can live with that response.
Then I try on the “and what’s wrong with being gay anyway” part. He’s not quite ready to advocate for gay rights in grade 4 – which I get. No problem. But he’s thinking about it.
What matters most to him, he says, is what his family thinks about him, not his friends. If I could only record this and remind him in a few years.
So, what to do?
We’ve arbitrarily set his 10th birthday as the time when he could get his ear pieced. We don’t want to rush into it and want to give him time to decide this is really what he wants.
But, in the end, why wouldn’t we let him?
What do you think? Any experiences you’ve had with similar requests from kids? Please share in the comments below.