Feeling like a monkey

February 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

For the past couple of years, my now 16-year-old daughter wanted a tattoo, piercings, etc. I thought it was awful. (I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 21, and have since regretted it!) Anyway, with an awful feeling in my stomach, I let her get a belly button piercing last year. I was not thrilled, but I allowed it.

Last summer I noticed a little tattoo on a woman’s back. Then I saw the tattoo on my friend’s lower calf. Then another one. I not only saw these tattoos, but I admired them! And I got the idea that I would like a blue flower on my back. The blue flower is the main symbol of the Romanticism of the 18th century. It stands for desire, love, and the metaphysical striving for the infinite and unreachable. I read the work of Novalis some twenty years ago. He was a German poet/writer who died shortly before his 29th birthday. I translated a few pages of his work into my diary. I loved him. I would have loved to spend a year or so just focussing on him, but I was in the middle of a million other things. Anyway, I had a vision of the illusive blue flower.

This past summer, my daughter brought up the subject once again. “Mommy, I want a tattoo.” This time, my response was different: “You’ll never believe this, but so do I!” Her eyes brightened up. She stretched her hand across the table and said: “Okay, we’ll do it together. Promise!” I promised. But I also told her that I wouldn’t do it until I found the perfect elusive flower.

After a few months and searching the internet, I just didn’t find what I was looking for. So I asked my mother if she couldn’t draw me a flower. (She quite conveniently happens to be an artist.) My daughter found something she liked, but it wasn’t quite right. I’m not quite the artist, but I drew something — an altered version of what she had — and she loved it. Meanwhile, my mom drew several different flowers and sent them. One was more beautiful than the next, yet she attached a note: “Sorry these aren’t better, but it’s the best I could do in such a short time. If you’d give me a month, I could do better.” I called her up and told her they were perfect! That made her happy. (Oh, those nasty expectations of perfection!)

We made an appointment and went to the tattoo parlor, appropriately named “True Pain”. Our pictures were too small, so the artist enlarged them with his own drawing. Thus, they weren’t exactly what our mothers had drawn, but the history was enough.

My daughter wanted to be first. A girlfriend had gone with, and she sat in front of her and held her hand. I sat beside her. Every so often, I gave her a sip of juice or popped an M&M into her mouth. That was a good and welcome distraction. She laughed (without moving, of course!). I admired her determination to go through with it.

Then it was my turn. Ouch! It really does hurt. She sat across from me, held my hand, then came closer to watch him working on my back. I was happy to share the experience with her.

At home, we took turns putting ointment on each other’s tattoo the first few days. Somehow it reminded me of the monkeys picking each other’s fur. Her father was not pleased. She told me his reaction was simply: “I hope that’s just painted on.” I told her: “I knew what his reaction would be, so I won’t even bother to show him mine.” Simple as that. I knew she would have liked him to admire it, but he is not capable of that. Sad, but true. I would have wished that just for her sake he could jump over his shadow and say it was pretty. But he couldn’t.

Well, in the meantime, it is healing. I am happy with my flower. My daughter is happy with her design. It quite unexpectedly strengthened our growing bond. I’m glad we did it. Just a year ago, if someone would have told me I would get a tattoo in January of 2009, I would have told them they were crazy. But then, if they’d told me I would have short hair, I would have said they were crazy, too! The yearning was there a year ago, but I didn’t dare! I’m so glad things have changed!

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Entry filed under: mothers and daughters, tattoo. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Intermittent tangential deviations More monkey stuff

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