Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taboo Tattoo

The other day, Jujubee and her cousin were headed out for an evening of fun, but before she left, she paused to tremble and fidget a bit in the hallway.

"I am going to throw up!" She cried urgently. "I cannot hold a secret!" And at that she turned to show me what I so hoped was someone's beautiful Sharpie art on the back side of her shoulder. Juju had come home with her fourth tattoo. She is nineteen. I called out her full name, the standard cry of disapproving parents, and then after telling her she was going to turn into the tattoo lady at the circus, stated that at least she didn't violate the big three.

We sat around for a few moments discussing the big three: pregnancy, drugs, and jail. Every parent reading this column completely understands this (some more than others). Of course, there is nothing worse than violating all three at the same time (many times, I have known a person to hit two out of three simultaneously, but never the full trifecta).

My husband and I mused about this later. Wisely, he had decided to refrain from saying anything that might cause her to feel angst or resentment, but worried that she might end up like the artfully and heavily etched  Queequeg from Moby Dick, that professional opportunity might be hindered if her artwork were too visible, that she might later come to regret her choice, et cetera--all the normal concerns a parent has. His daughter is well aware of his feelings, as discussions have taken place about this in the past.

"You know," I said, "this doesn't change how much we love her." Frankly even if she had violated the big three, we would still feel the same. We love her, all of her joyfully good qualities outweighing the fact that she just went and inked herself again.

Her tattoo has a story, and she described to us the reasons for the three birds in flight on her shoulder. Significant relationships seem to happen in threes, she said. And she named some of them: her, her sister, and her mother; her father, me, and her; and others. Seems sweet to me, that among her threes, all of which are about love, I have a place among them, represented in permanence on one of the most beautiful bare shoulders in the world.

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