My 9-year-old daughter has been asking -- and by that I mean pleading -- to get her ears pierced since she was 6. The pressure heated as her friends started getting pierced, showcasing tiny glitter butterflies and daisies on their small lobes. I see the way my daughter stares enviously at them, and places small stickers or dangly play clip-ons (see photo) on her ears to see what they will look like. She's got six more months to go; I promised she could get them on her 10th birthday. She'll be the last of her friends to get holes. I'm not trying to torture her or prove a point. In fact, when I told her four years ago that she could do it at age 10, it was a random number I spit out to buy time. But now I see there was reason behind my random.
This reason came to me last week, when I couldn't remember the name of the actor who played Mr. Miyagi in the 1984 movie hit The Karate Kid. (It's Pat Morita, by the way.) It took me about 15 seconds to find out the answer once my fingers typed in "IMDB." Aha, I thought, right! But I realized in that moment that the satisfaction wasn't half as strong as it used to be pre-Internet when my brain would wrestle with this kind of question for hours before the answer would rocket into my head mid-conversation or even while sleeping. Now THAT was a sense of victory. Remember that feeling? As a journalist, I'm the first to sing the praises of fast research offered by the Internet. And I take full advantage of being able to rent a movie or buy a book on a whim without even leaving my house. But the Internet does rob us of delayed gratification.
This must be a thousand times truer for my girl, who like so many millions of other kids expects things to happen right now. I'm not saying she gets whatever she wants, but there are answers to her questions as quickly as she can hop over to a computer. If she wants to use her allowance to purchase Mad Libs or Shrinky Dinks, she doesn't have to wait until a parent can drive her to a store on the weekend; it can be ordered on Amazon and appear within two days. If she wants to listen to a Top 10 song with her friend, they can find it instantaneously on YouTube. I was thinking over the holidays about the now-extinct excitement of receiving a letter I'd been waiting for in the mail, waiting for my favorite holiday special on TV, and hearing my favorite song play unexpectedly on the radio. I don't want to go back to the way it was; but I do miss the anticipation. I want my daughter to know that feeling, and that waiting can make an experience more special. This is all the more true at a time when clothing and makeup manufacturers and advertisers are trying to get her to grow up in a big fat hurry.
So I am glad I delayed this milestone, in spite of the whining, cajoling and endless rounds of "but all my friends have them!" I've had to endure. She and I discussed what it will be like on the big day when it happens. We will drive to Claire's boutique, where I had my own ears pierced as a kid (this time, I will care more about sanitation and whether the piercer has ever done it before). My daughter will pick out a few earrings she can wear when she's done with her "starters," and we will celebrate over frozen yogurt. I will smile as she shows me her ears from every possible angle, hair tucked back behind them, and I will delight in seeing her catch a glimpse of herself in every reflective surface we pass. I hope that the experience will be more meaningful because she had to wait, and because it will mark her hugely anticipated entrance into double digits. Now there's something no one can rush; it still takes ten years to get there.