Small boy aged 10: Mom, I really want a real tattoo.
Small boy aged 10: But you have one. How can you tell me not to?
Mom: Point taken.
Then I took an educated risk. I took my son to the Iron Fist Tattoo Parlour (I do love their shoes).
The tattoo artist looked at me perplexed and I asked him to please show my beloved offspring how tattoos were done.
He took my child to watch as he completed a complicated Celtic what-not on some idiot’s forearm and laid out all the different needles.
“You see,” he said, “This is the biggest one. I have to inject the ink under the skin. Watch.”
At this point the grown man having the tattoo gave out an anguished bellow.
“Mom,” whispered my son. “Is that man crying?”
“Does it hurt?” he asked the hapless tattooee, who replied in language not quite fit for a 10 year old’s ears.
“Right,” said the artist washing his hands, “What tattoo do you want then son?”
“Um, Mom,” said son, “I think if it’s alright, I’d rather just have a transfer for now.”
“You know,” said the tattoo artist, “That could have gone either way.”
Yes,” I replied sagely with maternal wisdom, “But it was an educated risk.”
I wanted the decision not to be inked to be his alone. I wanted him to understand exactly what the process was and how it worked. I didn’t want him to rush off in misguided rebellion some day and arrive home with Diablo tattooed in glorious Technicolor over his chest. They have a name for it in hospitals… give me a second… yes! Informed Consent.
Had it gone the other way, I would have had to pull the “When you turn 21 or move out of my house, whichever comes last” card.