Today I read your article on The Guardian about how upset you were over your son getting a tattoo. How you refused to even look at it, refused to talk to him for three days while you sulked and threw tantrums about it to everyone you knew. Then when you did finally sit down to talk to him about it, you could do no better than to express how disappointed and hurt you are at him for daring to get a tattoo. Even when you’re 21 year old son showed a truckload more wisdom than you by suggesting you “re-examine your prejudices”, you continued to harp on about how you’d rather he have lost an arm in an accident or how you’d probably have felt better if he’d gotten a girl pregnant than to have gotten what is probably a fairly small tattoo on his bicep.
Look, I understand tattoos are not for everyone. I happen to love them, personally. I know people who don’t care for them and I have even been told by people that they hate them. Everyone feels differently about them and that’s cool, because that’s how life goes. But like your son, I got my tattoo after a lot of thought and at a similar age. Likewise it wasn’t on a whim, it wasn’t done while drunk, it wasn’t done without a lot of consideration and it wasn’t the day he turned 18 as many people do which I feel is a very bad idea. I even worried that my mum was going to have a similar reaction to what you did, to the point where I called her beforehand to make sure she wouldn’t disown me if I got a tattoo. Guess what she said? “Cara, I love you and I don’t want you to get a tattoo, but it’s you decision and I’d never, ever disown you for it”. The next day I showed her it, she complained it was a lot bigger than she thought it would be and then that was it. She even helped put Bepanthen cream on it a couple of times since it was in a hard-to-reach spot on my back.
I have since been tattooed at least a dozen more times and have them in far more prominent places on my body such as my arms and feet. I wear my tattoos proudly and am in the process of adding more to my collection. How does my mum react? Well, she drove me to my last tattoo appointment, actually. She even helped me refine the design for it. It was not exactly to her taste but her input helped me and it was appreciated. She even got two tattoos of her own! The same woman who told me constantly as I grew up how ugly tattoos looked on females, how it’d ruin the wedding photos if I ever got one, re-evaluated her opinion and has now accepted me and my love of tattoos.
When people, such as her friends, ask her what she thinks of my tattoos, she tells them that they are just tattoos, and looks are only skin deep. She explains that I am a good person and the tattoos do not change that in any way. And it’s true, I am a good person. I don’t smoke, I drink in moderation, I’m not on drugs and I eat well and exercise regularly. I spend a huge amount of time with my mum and consider her one of my closest friends. But had she reacted anywhere near as badly to my tattoos as you did to your son’s, things would be different and we probably wouldn’t be very close at all. She respects my choices as an adult an will always provide input before I make a big decision, but never tries to interfere or guilt-trip me about it.
What you did to your son was immature, narrow-minded and emotionally-abusive. You’re affected your relationship with him in an negative and potentially non-reversible way, and it’s all your own fault. It’s a tattoo, not an illegitimate child, not a heroine addiction and definitely not a murder charge. I actually feel a little bit sorry for you. I can only assume this is your last, loud protest at the fact your son has grown up and has started making his own, independent decisions for himself without needing to ask for mum’s advice. I can’t imagine how it must feel to watch your children grow up and not need you any more, but I am damn sure I would be a lot more mature about it. I hope the backlash against your article made you realise how ridiculous you were being and apologise to your son for acting the way you did and realise there are far worse things for a son to do to his body that a get a tattoo!