So I was wrapping up a long weekend in Portland and killing time before my flight back to Los Angeles in Powell's Books, perhaps my favorite place in the world, when I saw this children's book called "Mommy's New Tattoo" by Levi Greenacres.
It was shelved in the "gift books" area -- which, according to one Powell's employee, is where they put the books that they don't know what else to do with -- alongside such classics as "Go the F**k to Sleep."
Part actual children's book, part funny baby shower gift, "Mommy's New Tattoo" is exactly the kind of book I'm surprised took so long to get made. I mean, Gen Xers and younger have been having kids for a while now, right?
It seems to me that in the Olden Times* having a tattoo was commonly accepted as a sign that someone was either a) a biker, b) trailer trash or c) a criminal. Now, however, tattoos are so common that they are no longer the mark of an outsider. Because: the 1990s.
Which leads me to my favorite page in "Mommy's New Tattoo": an illustration of Preppy Mom shielding her young daughter from the evil influence of Tattooed Mom. Does that even happen in real life? My son's dad has many visible tattoos, and I don't think he's ever experienced that kind of a reaction from another parent.
Many a suburban mother has a tattoo or several. I remember a small group of upper-middle-class girls from my high school who all got coordinating Looney Tunes tattoos on their ankles. I wonder if these women are now somewhere in a Midwestern suburb, driving momvans with Yosemite Sams and Roadrunners fading away on their limbs. (Regret, thy name is Tweety Bird.)
While I acknowledge that there is a marked difference between like, a single inconspicuous tattoo and a full sleeve, it's still not shocking, right? Am I weird that I see it as totally normal? When I see a parent with lots of tattoos, I don't think they are scary, I think they are probably just cool.
And of course there is the eternal question (say it with me): "What are you going to do when you're old with all those tattoos?!" Well, seeing as how like, 60% (loose guess; I really have no idea) of the people in my generation are inked, I don't see what the big freaking deal is. So we're all gonna have sagging tattooed flesh, whatever. As my friend Shelby says, "The way I see it, we will eventually have very colorful retirement homes," what with our tattoos and blue hair.
This book does mention finding a reputable shop that does good work (so important!), but really what I'd like to see is a tattoo book written not for young kids, but for teenagers, with sage advice such as: "Don't tattoo the name of your favorite band when you are 18 because that shit is forever and you probably won't like that band in 10 years," or "Ibuprofen and alcohol will both make you bleed more," or "Not all tattoos have to Mean Something" or "Don't let that stranger tattoo you at a party with a dirty safety pin and some India ink."
I was 32 years old when I finally got my first tattoo. After years of indecisiveness, I decided on an "O" for Oliver, my kid. His dad has a matching tattoo, and Oliver was so pissed when he saw that we had them and he didn't. So we drew an "O" on his arm with Sharpie and told him that when he's old enough he can get as many tattoos as he wants.
Are you a parent? How much (if any) ink do you have? Do your kids ask you about it? Do other parents shield their small, impressionable children from you?