Well, I did it...
I got stamped... got ink done... got my tatt.
I went into "New Tribe" down on Queen Street West - across from MuchMusic and got my tattoo done. I'll take pics later when it heals, but it's a representation of the kids' middle names (on the left there).
C's middle name (top) is "Shen" (some places spell the pinyin as "Sheng") which means "flourishing".
A's middle name (middle character) is "Li" which means "stand".
S's middle name (bottom character) is "Ling" which means "beautiful jade".
I had this guy over in China (Shanghai I believe) do the calligraphy of the characters - $6 for all three.
I brought it into New Tribe, made an appointment a couple of weeks ago and did the deed yesterday afternoon. I chatted a bit with the artist on how we could make it more interesting - less like a bunch o' characters stamped on me. C and I had been discussing this and were sort of thinking of some sort of frame or 3D kind of treatment around the characters.
The artist came back with a drawing that had the characters looking as though they were carved out of a piece of stone - little cracks and everything too. Then he went at it.
Now, I've suffered through 4-5 months of a ruptured disc in my back plus having my thumbnail removed, so I think I've got a bit more pain tolerance than an average Joe. But, I gotta tell the truth, it hurt a bit more than I thought it would. It wasn't anything that was unbearable or anything, but definitely not the most comfortable feeling.
I also got the tattoo on the top of my left bicep which is in itself a bit of a tender place. I hear that ribs or anywhere close to bones is more painful which is something I'll keep in mind for next time (ahem) ;)
The kids thought it was pretty cool this morning (the first time I took the bandage off). I don't know if they quite know that it's different than the temporary ones they get. Nor, do they have any of the preconceptions of tattoos and the taboo we were taught they represent when we were young.
I distinctly remember conversations with my parents when I was a teenager - discussing (sometimes heated) my possibly getting an ear piercing and/or more "radical" hair styles. Granted, mom and dad definitely grew up in a more conservative time and I think that some of those barriers were lowered for my generation, but deviating from the expected "normal" still wasn't looked upon fondly.
Thinking back on that really raises some questions for me when looking at the environment my kids are growing up in. I'd like to think that a lot of those preconceptions about appearance that we grew up with - fashion choices, hair styles, music tastes, body "modifications" - have become more accepting.
Maybe it's our living on the west coast for 13 years or maybe it's our generation as parents or maybe it's the influence of the Internet/new media, I don't know, but I feel that C and I have a more relaxed view of what's "normal". I don't think that a lot of our parent peers in this neighbourhood would necessarily share some of our extended views and opinions on things - this is Toronto after all. It's main industry is banking and finance, so there in itself is a bed of conservatism.
I certainly hope that our kids will grow up sharing and even going further than us in embracing diversity in people. It's okay to "fit in" and be accepted by different people and different groups, but I hope that we're giving them the foundation of confidence to be individuals and make intelligent decisions about who they are and as equally important, treat everyone they meet equally without social preconceptions.
I remember growing up with preconceptions of what a person was like by the way they dressed and looked like. I don't know when those preconceptions went away, but I think I'm one of the first people to reserve opinions on a person until I at least get to know them a bit. Tattoos, leather, studs and body-piercings have been on some of the most honest and caring people I've met.
I think both C and I are setting a consistent example of tolerance and acceptance to the kids. I think it's sticking as I see lil' C thinking things through and not necessarily "following the pack" on opinions and positions. We'll see how it goes - it'll definitely be interesting to hear what he and his siblings perspective on this in twenty years... ;)