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‘I’m grandma’s favorite now’

Do you know where your children are? Read their tattoos.

Our daughter called us heartsick. Our grandson in Bible college has another tattoo inked on his body. This makes four and this time it’s on his arm. She added, “He didn’t hear a word I said.”

She begged him when he was 16, “Please don’t tattoo your body. Don’t have your arms tattooed. If you go for a job interview, and if an older person is hiring, you might lose your chance of being hired. Older people do not see tattoos the same way as your generation does.”

I responded, “Why would he do that? He plans on entering the ministry and is in Bible college. So, what is so important that he has to have it written on his arm?”

His tattoo reads, “I’d rather die than compromise my beliefs.”

I realized I was stirring up the situation so I stepped back and tried another approach. “Let’s try to look at it from his point of view. When his friends told him to quit talking about Jesus, he wrote on his Facebook in caps, “DENIED.” That child is tenacious, almost obnoxious. He will need that kind of backbone to stay strong.”

“He isn’t exempt from the generation he lives in. His generation sees nothing wrong with writing on their bodies. It’s their expression. And believe me, his inked declaration will be tested a million times. It might be a reminder of who he is and what he stands for.”

I was still trying to console our daughter. “From where we stand, there is no way we would mark up our bodies because that is not the age we came from. In our older minds, we see it as a lifetime commitment.”

But, this is how this new generation thinks. Take Angelina Jolie’s tats. She has added three new ones and now she is up to around 17. The report reads, “Forty-year-old mother has a serious love for tattoos. On her left shoulder blade is a Buddhist Pali incantation in Cambodia. It’s her protection from bad luck.”

Reports say she had a couple removed to get a few new ones. Did poor Billy Bob’s tattoo go? Yes. To cover it up, she added words in Arabic script that says, “DETERMINATION.” On her left underarm is the Roman number 13. She had it done because she doesn’t believe in superstitions. Does that contradict the tattoo on her left shoulder blade? Just asking.

We have three grandsons who are all within six months of each other. At ages 22 and 23, they are as different as night and day.

Our oldest grandson, who went through his wild stage, called to say hi and see if I was having a good day. He said, “I saw Spencer’s new tattoo on Instagram. I was surprised. Spencer? The preacher in the family. I have to wear a sleeve on my leg to cover up my tattoos. It’s hot here in Phoenix and that sleeve gets even hotter. I hate it. But the company says if I want to work for them, the tattoos have to be covered up. Plus, those tattoos cost a lot of money.” He proudly said, “I don’t have any on my arms.”

This grandson is the one I quit counting his tattoos. There was always a new one. To name a few: the state of Texas, where he was born; the mountains of Colorado, where he was raised; his name, in case he forgets who he is; and then, of course, the two bottles of beer with “Good Times” written under it.

There is the watermelon, palm tree, a ’50s pin-up girl. Apparently, his friends chipped in and had their names tattooed on his bottom. Heaven forbid, I can’t even imagine. But I’ll take his word for it; I haven’t seen it and don’t want to see it.

I just remembered thinking, “He was such a pretty little baby.”

Today, it seems like he has changed. He is growing up. Thank God. He’s providing for himself and he sees the tats as money he can’t afford to spend.

Our other grandson has one tattoo, which is on his arm. It’s a scripture and it tells where he is in life and what he believes. His mother also begged him, “Don’t do it.” He stands on this scripture as his mantra in life and believes it expresses his agenda.

I’m happy he has at least one verse memorized, so when someone asked what Jeremiah 12:5 means, he can tell them: “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses?”

Our oldest grandson called home to tell his mother, “I’m grandma’s favorite now. Spencer had a large tattoo all the way down his arm and Creede has a tattoo on his arm, too. No tattoos on my arms.”

I thought to myself, I’m not going to ask about the watermelon tattoo. My favorite grandson? It depends on what day it is, but I love that he cares to be my favorite.

Final brushstroke: It’s about relationships more than tattoos. It would be so easy to damage the relationship and fight for our opinions. They have to figure it out, and they will when they have children of their own.

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This story was posted on April 20, 2017.