My 4-Year-Old Wants a Tattoo (a real one!)


We were afraid this day would happen.

We didn’t know when or how, but it was inevitable. We thought we were prepared – we really did! Yet when it happened, well…

We realized we were not even close to prepared!

Ok, let me back up. I am a 46-year-old mom of two girls, 4 and 8. A late bloomer, some would say. I’d like to say I wasn’t ready until later in life. I had a career I wanted to explore, travel the world, yadda yadda yadda.

I was a free thinker, extremely independent, and moved as far away as possible when I graduated from college. Music was my life, and I was determined to move to Los Angeles for a career in the music industry. So I did, and it was awesome.

Surrounded and inspired by musicians, I also got into tattoos – a lot of them.

Coming from an old school Italian family, however, I had to be crafty. They must not find out. I was torn between my own creativity and being a daddy’s girl. Therefore, my torso and upper legs were inked. It was my expression for me, and whoever maybe my partner in life.

My secret, right?

Not really. It was a good run, though, about 20 years. I met the man of my dreams and had two daughters (not necessarily in that order).

Our oldest is the conservative one. A quiet bookworm that loves art and fashion.

Then there is Mya.

She just turned 4. Mya loves spiders and tattoos.

I know what you’re thinking.

Her mom has tattoos, so she loves them because her mom has them, and that’s the extent of it.

That is not the case.

This girl is obsessed. If it were just her barging into my shower every day to look at them, that would be fine. Still a little odd, but fine.

Then it was her dolls.

All of them were covered in marker. Look, mommy, aren’t their tattoos pretty? Gulp.

At the age of 3, she was sent to her room for misbehaving, she came out with her arms and legs covered in designs. What? How could I be angry? They actually weren’t bad and had a terrific color combination.

Her body art continued and transferred onto her dad. My husband actually didn’t mind as he had none of his own.

Then it happened.

In November of 2019, we embarked on a 7-day family cruise with my parents. Remember the old school Italian dad that didn’t know about my tattoos? Yep. I thought maybe a swim burka would help. No sooner did I realize my 4-year-old daughter is running around pulling up my shirt, giggling, “But, Mommy, I want to see your tattoos.”

A 20-year-old secret… gone.

I could hear my own heartbeat at that moment in fear.

My 4-year-old ratted me out.

Fortunately for me, my dad had evolved throughout the years. In my mind, I was still a child trying to impress my dad and not let him down. Truth is, he was always impressed and proud of the woman I became.

That night at dinner, Mya even went further. “Mommy, I want a tattoo.”

Her sister told her, “yes, we can get some temporary tattoos.” But she refused. She wanted a real one. My answer was honest and stern. “Mya, sweetheart, of course you can, but the law says you can’t until you’re 30. You have to be sure.”

Ava, the 8-year-old, replied. “Yeah, Mya, if I got a tattoo when I wanted, I would be walking around with ‘Caillou’ on my arm.” Amen to that!