No, not that. Anything but that!

True to the tag I should probably be telling my therapist this instead of you, and I would—believe me, I would—but I only have one hour every two weeks and this just won’t fit in with all the other stuff on my list. Sorry, and you’re welcome.

I got my first tattoo when I was 15. It was/is the most hideous of indistinguishable blobs conveniently located forfuckingever on the small of my back. This tattoo was done by a guy named… what was it? Crawl? D’Beers? Copper, Topaz, Weed, Sailor, Golden, Maggot? I can’t remember his name now but I have six of his “practice tattoos” remaining, and a seventh that was converted into something I’m not embarrassed by over a decade after he scratched the original into my back. And now, tonight, after years and years of general conversation and a solid year of intensive present-day let's-look-at-your-patterns-of-impulsivity-lately conversations with Koa, the kid gets off the phone with my ex-husband, sits down at the table with the family for meat and potatoes dinner, and announces that he has great news! (Fuck me. This scenario is never, ever good. Seriously, there are days I wish the man would just dissolve or something.) 

"Yeah, he said he and grandma will take me to get a tattoo when I visit this summer!" 

And the air was literally sucked out of the room, except for Koa who was smiling and nodding his head affirmatively. He resembled some sort of adorable bobble-head souvenir one would pick up at a gas station or visitor's center at the tail-end of a trip you can't wait to get home from. Meanwhile I was more like the haggard tourist in a foreign land, stunned and stammering, lost, confused, and stuck in my same old outfit and furry teeth because someone stole my luggage back at the station. I stuffed a piece of garlicky steak in my mouth and stared out the window towards Canada. Breathing deeply and slowly grinding through the meat, I took great care to bite the tiny minced garlic particles one-by-one every time I needed to bite my tongue. It helped me be less of an asshole. I'm not mad at my kid; he's just doing the kid thing, searching for the Always Yes--but it's kind of easy for me to flip the asshole switch when my ex enters the conversation.   

Now it's been an hour and so far I've had a little cry and gotten frustration-fueled heartburn from the situation. Balls. Here's the thing: I am covered in tattoos. I have them on my feet, calves, ribs, arms, fingers, ears, neck, back, chest, shins, and the inside of my lip. I have never once doubted Koa would eventually follow suit to some degree, be it one or 100%, ever since he proudly declared he wanted a mermaid with the body of a shark tattooed on his belly when he was just six-years-old. This is just not how I imagined it would go down.
I think all parents have hope that their children will be better off than they are in a number of ways and I am no different. While I fully support my son dropping into life and out of high school, while I have long encouraged him to follow his own path whatever it looks like, I just simply cannot get behind his very first tattoo memory being one tainted by the impulsive nature of his life right now. My own experience not withstanding, I desperately wish he would wait until he is an adult so that he can make decisions based on how his path unfolds as he ventures into a life outside of my nest. It's not a good time for him to walk into a sleazy shop about which he knows nothing, select some shitty flash drawing off the wall at the encouragement of my ex, and allow some degenerate stranger to scrawl into is virgin skin with his tattoo "gun." That, and of course the thought of my ex getting the honor of accompanying him for the occasion makes me throw up a little in my mouth. It's true that I have had every Christmas, every birthday, every Easter, every New Year (save for this very last one), and every Father's Day with Koa throughout his entire life... but that's because I'm actually a reliable parent to him, have always been present in his life, and actually have some idea of where my son is at right now both mentally and emotionally. It's just not a good place to be making decisions that literally mark for life unless he wants to start saving for cover-ups now... but that would be our money because he doesn't have a job, and I don't really have that in the budget.

If nothing else I guess I just assumed this particular rite of passage would be one I was an immediate and positive part of. For now, however, it looks as though I may have to begrudgingly accept his choice to have someone else there instead. And not just someone else, but my exfuckinghusband, some dude I married as a wayward child-bride and divorced before I was 21. I hope my pride and excitement for Koa to transform himself in this way in his lifetime isn't overshadowed or reversed by that particular detail, but more than that I hope he doesn't get a staph infection from unsanitary conditions or poor aftercare in the time he's out of state.  

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