I often wonder what certain future conversation with my son will be like. Those questions and topics that made my parents cringe – “where do babies come from?”, sex, smoking, drinking, partying, dating, tattoos… That last one may be a problem for me sooner than I thought.So it’s not the best kept secret that I have quite a bit of ink, some visible in day-to-day life, the rest gets seen at places like the beach. My line for a while has been “inked from neck to hip”, but to be correct I should state include my left forearm, top of my left bicep, back of neck and right shoulder.. then pretty much most of my back. It’s a work in progress, but the time and funding is better spent on my little man right now. Who knows, I may just leave my art as is – it’s my version of a journal. My story is better lived than documented at this stage in my life.
I recently discovered that my son knows the word “tattoo” – and not in the military sense, as I had hoped. He was doing his usual routine of climbing on my back and jumping around when he pointed at the dragon tattoo on my shoulder and said “tattoo”. In my fascination I asked him if he saw the dragon, which turned into an impromptu demonstration of how one acts like a dragon, complete with roaring and “soaring”. I chalked it up to learning something new – until last night.
I get home from work yesterday evening and discover that he’s somehow managed to climb up on my desk and take a sharpie out of my pen cup. You can imagine what happened next. The floor, walls, beds, and himself were all sporting various designs. The cap has been found but the actual marker is still MIA (Update: the marker and a suspicious blue highlighter were found hiding in the bushes outside under his bedroom window – he keeps the gardener busy too it seems). It didn’t occur to me until later that night when examining the artwork on his forehead and knee caps that he was in fact attempting to “tattoo” himself. I was too busy being upset at the royal mess everywhere (yes, there was toilet paper, a toilet and a whole box of kleenex involved as well) to recognize he was telling me about his new tattoos.
I’ve always been fascinated with ink, and had that discussion with my mother at about 15/16. She, naturally, was violently opposed to the idea and once she calmed down, dismissed me with “when you’re 18 and not living in my house, you can do whatever you want.” Well, I left home at 17 yrs and 6 months old – I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. It’s been downhill from there. I went home for Christmas holidays about 2 weeks later and did my very best to keep it hidden. One afternoon while in the car with my dad I asked “Dad, what would you say if I got a tattoo?” Being the man he is, he simply replied “where is it?” Mum on the other hand was a little more direct (if that’s possible). I went to the beach with some friends and apparently was seen by some of her friends. I got home and in seconds she was in front of me “I hear you got a tattoo. Let me see it!” She gave up after about the third one, but I know she still secretly has dreams of holding me down with some steel wool and scrubbing them off my skin.
So this brings me to the question – how do I, as a parent, handle the inevitable?
I’m not opposed to him getting ink. I figure my approach will be the one I took with myself – they are a lifetime commitment. Care, thought, meaning, love, consequences of permanence and placement… they are all considerations that most people tend to ignore. These are the folks who make laser removal professionals very rich. Appreciating that, in my mind, is the most important thing I think I can teach him in this regard. After all, he is my child – he’s gonna go do it anyway. Who knows, he might not have any desire to get one at all. I don’t think I’m going to put any money on that after last night though…
In the meantime, this is more what I have in mind for him in terms of Tattoo… The Jamaica Military Tattoo 2012 (June 28 – July 1, 2012 … Check it out) – something tells me getting him to keep still during the show will not be a problem 🙂