Tattoo nanny


    tattooMy nanny (lets call her Allie) wants a tattoo. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with tattoos. I have plenty of friends who have them. But I was a bit taken aback at the news. Allie’s a smart, independent thinker. She’s a good student, politically active, overall a good choice maker. Plus she’s 21 and can do whatever she wants. Now she’s not considering something tawdry or garish, just a simple quote from Corinthians and a small heart.

    “Uh huh…” I say, trying to avoid sounding either judgmental or approving. “How’s your mom with it?” I ask ultra casually so as not to show my hand.

    “Well, she’d rather I not do it,” she said, “But I think she’s okay with it. I wanted to do it a few years ago and she was really against it. So I waited. Now I’m 21. I’m ready to do it.”

    “Wow,” I blurt out, “That’s so cool that you cared about your mom’s feelings so much.” I wondered if, in a span of 10 years, my boys would ever put my feelings before their own needs and wants.

    “Well, yeah…She’s my mom.” She answered with a lilt of obviousness as if all teenagers took their parents’ desires into account so acutely.

    I thought about what to say next. Allie is like a daughter to me. She’s part of our family. But I’m really just her employer. Does that give me the right to butt into her personal life? I shake off my self-doubt and plunge ahead brashly.

    “I wonder what Levi will say?” I lob a gentle soft ball her way.

    “It’ll be pretty small,” she looked nervous. “I doubt he’ll even notice.”

    “Levi doesn’t miss much,” I counter. “Maybe…don’t make too big a deal of it. I’m not sure I want him thinking a tattoo is an option right now.”

    “Well…if you really don’t want me to get it, I can wait,” her uber-responsible self piped up.

    “No. Oh, gosh…” I quickly retorted. “You’re a grown woman. You do whatever you want. My kids are gonna see people with tattoos and piercings and bad haircuts. I can’t shield them from everything. Don’t be silly.”

    Then I thought about it again. Maybe I should tell her I do think it’s a bad idea. I’m not exactly sure why though. I suddenly flash forward 10 years to an 18 year old Levi, dressed in baggy, torn jeans, his underwear hanging out, a ragged Led Zeppelin T-shirt, shaved head and arms completely covered in tattooed splendor.

    I owe it to her mom to say something, I determine. It’s one of those “Mommy Union” requirements. If one mom has the chance to protect another mom’s offspring from making a poor decision, she is categorically required to do so.

    “The funny thing about tattoos,” I lightheartedly add, “Is how differently people feel about them as they get older. I know so many women who would give anything for a tattoo ‘mulligan,’ a ‘do-over,’ if you will. It’s hard to even imagine that you might feel differently when you’re older, when you become a mom yourself. I’m actually shocked by how much more conservative I’ve become since having children. You also have to realize that getting a tattoo will pretty much give your kids license to do it also. It falls into that ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ category. Those arguments are hard to win as kids get older.”

    I stopped to assess her demeanor. Had I gone too far? Overstepped my boundaries?

    “I’m really sure about this,” she smiled warmly as if to tell me my concern was touching but unnecessary.

    “Oh, of course you are,” I agreed, slightly embarrassed by my prudishness. “Well, good luck with it,” I smiled and headed back to my office.

    Now I realize there’s nothing inherently wrong with getting a tattoo. If it wasn’t expressly prohibited in my religion, I might even consider a rose-colored American Beauty right atop my left ankle. But it just doesn’t feel like something I want for my kids. It’s like I want to say to them, “Look, this tattoo thing, it’s okay for other people. It’s just not for us.”

    Having someone so close to us, whose values we share, make the tattoo plunge, raises some challenges. Maybe it scares me because while I seem to be able to control my little ones right now, it’s a clear indicator that soon they’ll be old enough to make their own decisions. And those decisions might not always be the ones I’d like them to make. As they get older, they’ll be making bigger, life-altering choices, with little regard for my feelings and beliefs, this freaks me out a bit.

    I guess this is one of those “bigger kids, bigger problems” issues that every now and again faces off with parents of young children and reminds them to appreciate what little control they do have over their offspring while they’re young.

    So, Allie, go for it. Do what makes you happy. But do you think it would be okay to tell the boys you painted it on, just for fun?


    1. For a minute I thought this might be about me. But then I remembered I got my Corinthians tattoo when I lived in Tucson, after I worked with Levi. I think that there are many things far worse than getting a tattoo that Allie could expose the boys to. From what I know of Levi, he will not do something that he thinks will upset anyone. His heart really couldn’t take it, I think. I don’t really think you need to be so concerned. Sheltering the boys too much could make them turn into your worst nightmare. Expose them to different things and let them question the people close to you and their choices. With you and Mark as influences, I think they are going to grow into amazing, responsible men.

    2. Excuse me, but how is it any of your business if someone else wants to get a tattoo? And why do you judge people who have tattoos? Do you have your ears pierced? OMG, what a scandalous act! Grow up and get off your high horse!

    3. How can you let such a despicable person care for you children. What are tattoos, except defiling of the body. If this person has no respect for her own body, do you really think she’ll respect you kids?

      As her employer, you have every right to demand certain standard are enforced. You don’t allow raunchy rap music, do you? How about the kids watching R-rated movies?

    4. I have two small tattoos and I am an extremely well educated, smart, hard-working, professional and independent girl. I nannied for many years throughout college and graduate school.
      My choices for my body have absolutely nothing to do with how I care for a child, nor would I (or anyone) appreciate someone butting into my personal decisions. None of my tattoos are visible and I’ve had them for years and still don’t regret them.
      This totally crosses a line, especially for you to have those thoughts about someone who unconditionally cares for and loves your children. A little ink doesn’t change that.

    5. Im going to be the other end of the spectrum on this article, so no one take it asa hostile blowback at any of you. Im well educated, smart and have a masters degree in Anthropology. Iam an ex-Army Ranger Corporal and served in the Iraq. I also am a tattoo artist and have been for several years.
      I have a question to ask all of you, whats the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tattoos? I bet its grungy biker or some other nefarious looking character. Thats the stereotype that many many americans believe to be true. Tattoos are worn by bad people is what alot of you think judging by your posts. You could not be more wrong. Tattoos are art worn on the body, much like clothing. The whole “its permanent!” argument is ridiculous because thanks to modern technology they have a cream that painlessly destroys a tattoo in about a month and its cheap to do. Tattoos, when done by a liscensed professional artist turn into beautiful pieces of artwork. So knock of this “Holier than thou” attitude when you talk about tattoos. If you dont want one, then dont get one, if you dont like them, then you dont like them but to call someones character into question because they want to adorn their body with artwork is absurd. Once again im not lashing out at anyone, but next time you have some spare time, browse the internet and look at some of the beautiful artwork that has been produced by tattoo artists and you will see how much of american artwork draws inspiration from it.

    6. Tattoos are an expression of self! How would you like it if I forced my opinions on you? Not to much I would think. Its their body, their feelings, and their life. Let em do what they want to.

    7. I found this article disturbing on several fronts. First, who are you to say Allie will regret her tattoo? It is a personal choice, and in no way reflects on her character. Second, do you really think you can raise your child in a bubble? He will see tattoos and other forms of self expression; if he chooses one of them, then that is HIS choice. Bringing a child into the world does not give you the right to control them when they are adults.
      I am a mother of three, strong, intelligent, kind human beings, and if they choose body art, then it is their choice.
      I do have a tattoo, which I did not get until my children were adults, and it memorializes their father who passed away 17 years before I got it. Your views about body art, and the assumptions you make about people who choose it, disturb me. I am more worried about how your son will grow to be a well rounded and open minded person with this type of example than I am with him having a nanny with a small tattoo.


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