Abby has been bugging me since she was seven or eight to let her get her ears pierced. Other girls had them; why couldn’t she? I was already used to doing things differently from many of the families in our neighbourhood, but I explained my reason the best I could: there were stages of growing up and there was no need to rush through them. For me, although clearly not for all, earrings symbolised a next stage in feminine sexuality. It could wait. When could she do it? she would ask. There was already a built-in coming-of-age ritual: I decided that she could do when she became bat mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) at 12.
Well, that seemed simple enough at the time. Then we moved from the traditional community in Perth to Melbourne and found ourselves a home in the Progressive Jewish community where boys and girls both are deemed to become bnei mitzvah at 13. Now what?
I hoped she wouldn’t notice. Who was I kidding? When the lobbying resumed, I had to think: 12? or bat mitzvah?
Various developments have conspired to present me with a solution and we agreed that with high school beginnning in a few weeks, it was time. Strangely, it wasn’t so easy to get it done. Jewellers don’t seem to do it, even though it would seem that they could make money selling earrings that way. Very few pharmacies do it. Fewer had anyone available during January. So, when I found someone yesterday, Simon and I took her to Bare Beauty salon where Rebecca did the honours.
It was really sweet. Abby beamed with proud excitement as Rebeccah talked her through what to expect. She had her choice of several rows of studs with different coloured crystals. I’d brought my first earrings to show her, and she chose the same: classic gold balls. She looked lovely.
When we left, it was hard to tell who was more excited, Abby or me. Next stop: high school.