30 June 2005

"From the moment I first saw you. The second that you were born..."

Susie and Justin
Originally uploaded by susiewrites.
When this little guy was about eight years old, we used to sing "You're The Love Of My Life", by Carly Simon. Sometimes, we'd even hold hands while we were doing it. The lyrics were so perfectly apropos, particularly the lines, "You can drive me crazy. You can drive me anywhere. Here are the keys, just do as you please, it may not always be easy..."

And it hasn't always been easy. I must say it's always been interesting and, to be honest, it's almost always been fun. I wouldn't trade a second of it. I just wish the seconds hadn't passed by so fast. It seems as if they start out fairly slow but somewhere along the way, they gain this powerful momentum and before you blink, your son is bursting into your office and asking you to put more A&D Ointment on his latest tattoo.

"Ouch!" No, that was me saying that, not him. He was grinning from ear to ear and looking rather proud of himself. In fact, it was in such a spot that he couldn't really see it with a mirror looking into a mirror, so I had to take my camera phone and take a photo of it so he could admire it in all of its glorious detail.

My precious son got his 2nd tattoo yesterday and what could I say? Well, nothing I can write here, but that's beside the point. It's not like I could ground him and besides, he didn't need my permission. He's 18 and for some strange reason when you're 18 and you've earned your own money and you take it into your head that you want permanent ink "art" (and I use that word loosely) installed somewhere on your person, you don't require your Mother's permission. Who made this rule up, I have no idea, but that's just the way it is. I am positive it wasn't a Mother who made that rule up. This much I know.

And to think of the argument he used to give me when I told him he was going to get a simple flu shot. You would have thought I was taking him to have a finger removed.

I remember how many times I rubbed oil and lotion and carefully examined his back for bumps, bruises or bug bites, and now there is this tattoo at the base of his neck. It's not particularly horrid looking. I guess as tattoos go, it's not a bad one. I just liked it better when it was just, well, plain skin. But of course, I'm just a Mom so what do I know anyway? There are 26 years and about a million or so memories between us.

So what did I do? Easy. I got some cotton and carefully blotted the "design" as he asked me to do.

I suppose I could have had a cow or something, but that wouldn't have made it magically disappear, and he worked hard for the $80 dollar price tag (I think they should have paid him!), and of course, I listened several times to how much it hurt and I don't doubt that it did. If he was looking for sympathy, I'm afraid he burst through the wrong room. But he is my son and I adore him, tattoo-tainted or not.

I have this hunch that plastic surgery is going to be a very lucrative business in about 10 or 20 years (or less), when all of these kids walking around are a little older and wiser and wondering what in the world they were thinking when they had some permanent symbol etched in their skin, and decide they'd rather it be removed. I don't know how they remove such a thing, and I'm sure that in the next few years the technique will be refined, but I would guess it will still be prohibitively expensive. Given how many kids I see sporting them, it's either going to be a long-term trend or there's going to be a lot of expensive superficial surgery going on.

I could be wrong. It may become THE thing to have at least three tattoos by the time you're the age I was when I brought Justin into the world. I have no idea and fortunately, it's not a pressing problem at this time. Right now, he's in "acquisition" mode and I can just imagine that when his sister, Katie, returns from NYC this weekend, she will examine it thoroughly, make a few remarks, and then probably make an appointment for her second one so that her brother won't be ahead of her.

Whatever happened to non-conformity? :-)

I think all of these non-conforming kids are doing exactly what everyone does at their age in the quest to be different and unique; they're doing the very same thing, just different designs. I used to think you practically had to be in the military to have a tattoo because the only ones I saw were on the arms of men who had been in the service, and they were almost always some sort of military-related object. I bet their Moms weren't so impressed when they came home sporting one, either. But I would imagine they didn't dwell on the displeasure they may have felt with seeing some picture on their kid's arm, because they were just so darn thankful to have their child, even if he was 22, back on terra firma. Safe and sound.

The way I look at it, I would have much preferred he use the $80 more constructively, like deposit it in his savings account, but he chose not to and even though he didn't ask for, nor does he require, that I respect his choice, I still do. That $80 could have gone for something that made far more sense to me, but likewise it could have gone for something much, much worse and more dangerous. When I think about all of the really scary stuff in this world he could have used that money for, his small tattoo doesn't look nearly as unattractive.

Besides, I know for sure I've done a thing or three that has made him shake his head in confusion. If I'm to get honest with myself, and believe me, this evening I'm going to take the Fifth and get REAL honest with myself, there are bigger fish to fry.

As far as Justin is concerned, I still think he's just about the most handsome 18 year old I have ever met, but then again, I am biased and I'm allowed to be. That's my boy...and he, along with his sister, without question are...two of the most amazing "love(s) of my life".