“I want to get a tattoo,” says my 16-year-old daughter Marina.
Careful how you respond. Don’t talk too much, don’t be judgmental, don’t freak out, and don’t overreact. Just. Don’t. Feel.
After countless conversations addressing her coming of age questions about periods, mean girls, God, sex, pregnancy and more, I have learned that listening with NO REACTION, while repeating what I’ve heard is the best route.
“A tattoo.” I drone in my best unemotional, non-committal voice. “So you want to get one?”
“A lot of kids are getting tattoos the second they turn 18,” she offers before I can tell her she’s not old enough and 18 is still too young.
Images of websites that beckon “Epic Tattoo Fails, click here!” are flashing through my mind as I struggle to repress the urge to expound upon tattoos with misplaced apostrophes and bad spelling.
Her deliberation continues. “And I wouldn’t have it in a location that’s easy to see.”
As if that would be the ticket to get me to say okay.
I start to tell her about poorly chosen tattoo locations and efforts to cover them during job interviews. I know I’m not supposed to react, but I can’t help myself.
“All of them,” I say as I curl my fingers to mimic quotations, “thought it was a great location at the time.”
Marina tilts her head in that way that says, “OK Mum, I GET IT.”
But her voice is conciliatory. “I know, I know. I’ve thought about that too. It would be somewhere that could easily be covered up—except maybe in a swimsuit of course.”