Earrings. Who knew such little things could cause so much trouble? And yet, they have.
In less than one week, my firstborn, my eldest daughter, my little girl, will turn 10 years old. She wants nothing more in the world than to get her ears pierced.
Apparently, this is the age her mother got her own ears pierced and what we agreed is the allowable age for my daughter's ears to get punctured and adorned. Here, I thought we had agreed to 12, or even 18. Rather, that's what I wish we had agreed to.
Call me an oddball or a fashion-ignorant man in a world dominated by women (my world is, anyway). I just don't get it.
I'm not judging. I know plenty of friends and relatives who got their baby's ears pierced on the way home from the hospital. That's their call, and frankly, I don't even notice them.
But, with my little girls, I wanted them to wait.
Wait for what? Fair question.
I'd like to think my opinion is based on a general resistance to all the ways we tell our young daughters to become obsessed with their own beauty, to care about things like makeup and jewelry and to succumb to all the pressure to be a real-life princess.
Maybe I had one too many sociology classes as an undergraduate. Maybe that darned liberal arts education made me question all the societal conventions that get forced on us from every direction, dictating our gender-specific roles, setting us on our pre-ordained paths and molding us until we are "American Idol"-watching, new-sneaker-buying, credit-card-using drones. Deep breath.
Maybe now that I'm a dad with three young daughters -- and one son -- I see it ever more clearly. Sure, they come out a bit different, boys and girls. I never saw a 10-month-old throw a ball across a room until our boy did. But how much of the difference do we as a society force on them?
I remember the first bike we bought for our eldest child. We had to choose between the black bikes with the Incredible Hulk and Spiderman on them and the pink bikes with Barbie and Cinderella. Everything, from the moment they come out, is divided into pinks and blues. Pink knit hats in the hospitals, blue swaddling clothes on the way home. Try to find green PJs for a baby -- it's almost impossible. And that's just the start. For goodness sake, even Legos are divided into boy Legos and girl Legos these days.
And it comes at you from all directions. The other day, our younger daughter's preschool was having a dress-up day. Kids were told to come as princesses or superheroes. It sounds innocent enough, until you think about it. We were so proud when our daughter decided on her own to go as Super Girl.
It makes sense. My wife comes from a family of strong, accomplished women. (Scottish too, so watch out). We've raised our daughters to be strong and confident, to know their worth and to know they can do anything. We've taught them that they are smart and capable and so much more than just beautiful.
Maybe that's why the earrings are sticking in my craw so bad. Maybe I see it as a setback in our battle against a society that is pushing my girls to be a certain thing, to act a certain way. Maybe.
Or maybe I just don't want to see my little girl grow up so fast. Maybe there are all these milestones in a kid's life, from getting on the kindergarten bus for the first time to being dropped off at college, that are going to happen and there's no way to slow them down. Our kids are going to grow up and get bigger and will even become adults someday. It can't be stopped.
But this one can be. This one is on us.
I know there are older parents with older kids who may read this and say, "Dude, really, it's just earrings." And they are right. They are just earrings.
Besides, Wonder Woman wears earrings and she's a super hero.
And in a few days, it's going to happen. I will keep telling myself, it's just earrings. And hopefully, in a few weeks, I won't even notice them.