If you have kids who say they want tattoos, let me talk to them…it turns out those things don’t ever go away!!
Saying I was rebellious when I was young is quite an understatement. While I know that part of it was just the way I was and still am wired, there were also very specific situations that carried me over the line from rebellious to whatever the word is when ‘rebellious’ is no longer sufficient. I won’t go through each of these events now, but one of the big things that shaped who I am is my culture and heritage. I am a first generation, Palestinian-American, raised Catholic, and born to two very conservative, very traditional parents. I learned from a very early age that what I was expected to want out of life, according to my culture, and what I actually wanted out of life, were completely different. The expectation was that I would get married, make babies, and be a good wife and mother. SIDE NOTE: My parents and I grew out of the phase of hating each other around the time I went to college, and we are still extremely close…back to naughty Rania.
At the ripe old age of 15, I decided I was going to get a tattoo, and so I did–a classy, psychedelic-looking sunflower with a basketball in the middle that I had placed on my lower, right hip. I was so proud of it and feeling even more ballsy than usual, so I decided to get yet another tattoo. Because, you know, what 15-year-old doesn’t need a two tattoos?? About two weeks after my first, I got a tattoo of a bright green frog, holding a basketball of course, directly in the middle of my right ass cheek.
For months I was looking over my shoulder, making sure every door was locked. Gone were the days of running around the house in a sports bra and sweat pants. I was completely paranoid that my mom was going to catch me changing, and the cat would be out of the bag. So I did what any teenage kid would do…I told her the truth and swore her to secrecy. I made her promise she wouldn’t yell at me, ground me, and especially, that she would not tell my dad. It was such an unfair ask, but after she had sufficiently tried to scrub the tattoo off my hip, she kept my secret. For months and months, whenever my dad was around, she would hide her anger and frustration and disappointment, at least until he left the room.
But then one day, God got bored and wanted a laugh at my expense. We found out during my sophomore year of high school that I had a heart condition that would cause me to pass out. The three times I did pass out were during or immediately after a game. The doctors and specialists ran tests and drew blood, and eventually, through the miracle of medicine, everything was under control. That was all until I came down with an sinus infection and had to take antibiotics that counteracted with my heart medication. I passed out in the hallway of my high school, and as luck would have it, the school nurse on duty that day knew my dad, so after calling 911, she called my dad to come to the school–this is particularly interesting because from grade school through high school, if there was ever a parent called, it was always my mom. Here’s where God’s sense of humor reaches epic proportion…the ambulance arrived, and as they were lifting me from the wheelchair to the stretcher my sweater came up just enough to expose my lovely body art to my dad. I was passed out, so I had no idea that had happened. But when I woke up in the hospital and saw my dad’s face, I immediately knew that he knew…and I was in trouble. As certain as I was that my dad was going to kill me, he didn’t. He did, however, let me test drive my dream car just before my 16th birthday and then let me know I wasn’t getting it because of the tattoo…that fun little game continued for months. But I did survive, and I made it all the way to my 20s without my parents knowing about the frog tattoo.
How, you may wonder, would my mom ever see the frog on my butt?? Funny story…I was married once. I’m now happily divorced, but there leading up to the wedding, the Middle Eastern culture dictates a big fancy engagement party must take place. I pretty much came out of the womb a tomboy, wearing basketball shorts. I’m the only girl my parents have, and all my mom has ever wanted was a pink loving, pearl wearing, frills and lace embracing, girly girl, but instead, she got stuck with me. So you can imagine her excitement at her getting to put me in a dress, and I wasn’t going to fight her on it–well not much anyway. She came home with at least 15 dresses, and I swear if I could have worn all of them in the same night she would have been in heaven. I couldn’t of course, so we started a marathon session of trying on dresses. Dress 11 was this skin tight, spaghetti strap dress that looked like a mix of a sunset and someone had spilled rainbow sherbet all over it. The whole damn thing was pretty much different shades of pink (to this day, I don’t do pink unless I’m tricked into it), and I knew that there was not a chance that I would wear it in public. But to humor my mom and see her smile, I put the thing on. I walked out of her bedroom, and while she may have had tears in her eyes, they didn’t last long. My mom said “Oh Rania, you look so beautiful…why can’t you just look like a lady this one night??” And then she asked me to do a little turn. “Wait…turn around again…” and all of a sudden my mom’s face was just inches from my ass, “You have a tattoo on your butt??!! Oh my gosh!! What is wrong with you??!! You let some tattoo man look at your butt??!!!” It took me the better part of the next 3 years to convince her that I did not decide to get tattoo on my rear end as an adult, and certainly would not have chosen a frog holding a basketball at that point in my life. I had to walk her through it no fewer than 100 times before she finally believed me. Regardless, she was mortified and also just couldn’t believe that she was so oblivious for so many years.
Now let’s fast forward about 9 years from that little incident to present day. In my current state, my mom has to help me do everything–go to the bathroom, bedroom, or anywhere else I need to go. She has to help me stand up, sit down, prop my legs up…you get the picture. The day before yesterday, I finally got so sick of being a greasy mess and decided that somehow, I was going to take a shower. My mom and dad’s good friends brought over a shower seat for me to use, which was very helpful. But my mom still had to get my undressed and situated in said shower seat. My mom hasn’t seen me naked since I was a kid, and she has never seen the frog outside of that day she saw it through that monstrosity of a dress. I was in so much pain during the whole ordeal of preparing to take a shower that none of this even crossed my mind. I finally got out of the shower, dressed, and back to my horizontal position on the couch when it occurred to me that my mom had just seen me completely naked! “Did she see the tattoo? Is she upset all over again because she’s just been reminded what an awful kid I was?? Is she feeling that deep-rooted disappointment that she always felt when I was a kid? Oh poor mom!!” All things that cross the mind of someone who is not only incapable of releasing that proverbial Catholic guilt, but is also on pain meds. After going back and forth with myself for a couple of hours, I decided the best thing I could do would be to just ask her, so I did…she didn’t even notice it and had forgotten about it!
The moral of this story…don’t get tattoos of amphibians on your butt or anywhere else for that matter. Don’t forget that you won’t play sports your entire life, so maybe it’s not a great idea to get your sport permanently tattooed on your body. And there’s a reason 15-year-olds should not get anything permanently placed on their body!! Lesson learned, and in case I ever forget it, I have my darling parents who say things like, “I can’t wait until you have kids! And when YOUR daughter says she wants a tattoo, I’m going to make sure she sees your first two!”