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Bringing Back Rites of Passage

A Guest Post by Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Indie Business Blog

When my daughter, Vanessa, was born, I made the conscious decision not to have her ears pierced while she was an infant. I studied this issue very carefully while I was pregnant and I knew that the nurses in the delivery room would perform the service for free if I asked them to. This seemed appealing considering it would save me the trouble later and my daughter would never remember the pain of the piercing.

On the other hand, I have a very vivid memory of the day my ears were pierced. I had begged my mother for months to let me have them pierced. She'd never had her ears pierced so it was not a priority for her. She kept saying that I was too young.

Finally, one day, at the shopping mall, she let me do it. I was so excited, you would have thought I had been given a new car. I waited patiently in line behind two other girls who were much younger than my 16 years. They barely winced when the piercing "gun" went off. When it was my turn, it was over in an instant. It was a simple process, but for me, it was nothing short of an introduction to womanhood.

Now, I thought, I could be glamorous. I could wear coordinating ear ring, necklace and bracelet sets. I could move my head and watch my ear rings dangle. I could catch people's attention by the way a gold hoop or a silver shape caught the light.

I had arrived.



So when it was my turn to have a daughter, I decided that piercing her ears without her knowing it might rob her of the satisfaction of the movement from one stage of life to another.

Our society today is filled with little girls who grow up too fast. Their skirts are too short too soon. They are sassy and provocative before they even wear training bras. And it doesn't help that Billy Ray Cyrus thinks it's OK for his 16 year old daughter to pole dance at an awards show designed for children under the age of 18.

Girls have the opportunity to enjoy precious few rites of passage these days. They are thrust into a grown up world without much understanding of the stages of progress toward womanhood, many of which have been reduced to rote experiences without much meaning or significance.

Vanessa Getting Hair Done 34 I wanted the process of entering womanhood to be different for my daughter. I want her to have distinct and pleasant memories of each significant stage of her movement toward adulthood. I would like to create an environment where each milestone is memorable, and where none of it is rushed.

Last month, when Vanessa turned 8 years old, she told me she wanted to have her ears pierced. Her dad and I planned a Diva Fashion Show party at the local Sweet & Sassy franchise. It was a fun day, complete with a runway, hair, makeup, manicures and pedicures for all.

Vanessa and Friends at Party 55



Several ecstatic little girls spent a few hours prancing around, giggling, modeling and feeling grown up.





Vanessa Having Ears Pierced 83

After the cake, ice cream, and presents, Vanessa's friends gathered around while my little girl had her ears pierced.

That night, we talked about the meaning of it all. I told her how it felt when I had my ears pierced -- that I felt more grown up, more aware that I was maturing, and that more was expected of me. We shared a special kind of moment that evening. We both made another step forward, she as a girl and me as a mother.

I am glad I decided not to pierce her ears all those years ago. I'm glad I didn't take the decision away from her, glad that I was able to preserve for her a rite of passage -- a moment in time that she will treasure for the rest of her life. 

Vanessa After Her Big Moment 88

I took this picture to capture the transformation I knew happened inside her that day.




Question: If you have children, nieces or nephews, what kinds of "rites of passage" activities have you enjoyed with them? Have you helped to prevent them from growing up too fast by preserving a special rite of passage that they can remember for a lifetime?

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