A Stamp of Approval.

“Look around you, mom, You are the minority!” She is talking about Tattoos, again. Now that she has brought my attention to it, everyone does seem to have at least one. Any age, persona, or socio-economic group did not seem to lend itself to any particular circle. I decided, then, maybe it is about time to consider it. Not because of “peer pressure” from my daughter, but because maybe having something meaningful to me, and only me, on my body is somewhat...enticing.

I do not fall into that stereotyped belief where tattoos are meant solely for tough- nut head-bangers or teens looking for that shock value. I cannot think that way; my son is covered. Across his back, his chest and the latest sleeve, he is nothing close to that cliché description. He is, essentially, a boy scout. The kindest, sweetest most respectful man I know. Every tattoo has a meaning for him, whether I “get it” or not is irrelevant. I have overheard conversations around that all that time. It is time to drop that judgmental attitude and concede that it does not matter what I think. It is not my body, not my definition, not my ink!

There are the tattoos that people take forever to create and design and then there are the “5 too many tequila’s that night that ends up with an impromptu tattoo. Who cares? It came from experience, good or bad. It is still “yours”.

We can all recollect a family member complaining at dinner. “What happens when you turn 90 and you have skulls all over your body, aren’t you going to regret it?” I admit to being more than a little concerned about that, until now. The reality is, some of us don’t make it to 90. Life is short, eat the cake, buy the shoes, get the tatt! One day while sitting on a patio enjoying a beer with my beautiful daughter, Gabbi, one of my most favorite people to do this with, suggested we finally fulfill our long time intention to go get matching tattoos. I completely admit that the complement of her wanting to do this with me completely overrode any desire to impart my typical parental response of “not a chance.” Instead, I recall the day my daughter had this strange request. “Can you get Grandpa to draw a rabbit for me, take a screenshot and send it to me?” I should probably fill you in...my father is 84 years old and the best grandfather ever! He was the one on the floor playing every imaginable game going, went to every single game, band practice and awards ceremony. He quite likely knows both of my kids,29 and 26, as well as I do. To my point, ever since my kids were small, he would draw for them. The only thing was, no matter what they asked him to draw, a horse, a house, a truck, it did not matter, he still drew a rabbit. ( it was the only thing he knew how to draw!) And to boot, not a very good one! As per her request, I asked my dad to draw the rabbit while, honestly, claiming I had no idea why. I sent it off to my girl and forgot all about it. A few weeks later, at an impromptu family brunch at a local restaurant, my daughter proudly stands up and says, “I have a surprise for you, Grandpa!” She promptly rolls up her sleeve and presents the replica of the rabbit tattooed on her arm! I cannot even tell how proud I was of her that moment. My dad cried, soon everyone had a tear in their eye. I have always appreciated how much my kids love their grandparents but this was just such a beautiful tribute. They say it is the “little things that count.” This is proof positive what in life has the most impact. Time spent. Period. Such a small gesture was not so small in my dad’s heart. With this memory in mind, off we went on a hunt for a hip downtown tattoo parlor and before I had time to change my mind, I was handing over a hundred bucks and a sketch. My girl came up with the best idea; we both have always shared a love of reading and writing, so what better tattoo than a book? Same tattoo, same placement. Overcome with feeling like “The Coolest Mom ever,” I never even thought to be nervous about the actual process of getting tatted up! The artist was this sweet, young girl who, by the way, confirmed I was the coolest mom ever..eh hem. I am relieved to say it was a relatively painless experience and she had a knack of making the scratching, repetitive process less annoying than it might have been without her casual conversation between Gabbi and I. Both of whom were very clever in their suggestion that I go first. Thirty minutes later, we walked out of there closer than ever. It confirmed to me that I could drop the judgment and see tattooing for what it is. An expression of a time, a place, a person, an experience or all of the above. I was hoping my girl was as proud and I was sharing this with her. I cannot even imagine missing any of this because I had a “judgment “against tattoos. What a paradox. Parents learning life lessons from their grown children. Again, not a “big thing” but it was gigantic in my heart. Her choice of tattoos reflects all of that precious time spent together, reading to her as a youngster and imparting my love of writing, as she grew older. She is now an accomplished writer in her own right! That very evening, as I wondered if my girl was as proud and I was sharing this with her, I saw her Instagram post... “Cause life’s about spontaneously getting matching tattoos with your mom with the hashtags “book tattoos” and “matching tattoos” …confirmed and approved!

With 25 years of being in the public education sector, more specifically Special Education has graced Cheryl Pankhurst with the life knowledge that while, serious challenges can be stressful, dark and heartbreaking, there is also a beautiful light. One that sheds some hope and positivity that we need to grab a hold of and share with those who have not grasped it yet. The little things, the special moments when we find ourselves feeling like we can take on the world or we can get through the next five minutes. To read more from Cheryl head over to www.cherylwritesabout.com!