Let Your Kid Get a Tattoo

Remember those coolly aloof tattoo artists? Each one stopped by Andra's chair to watch the work in progress and, uncharacteristically — tattoo artists are stingy with praise — complimented her design. Each one made eye contact and conversation with Zach. Not one asked him a single question about his disease. Not one.

So, even if an EMT doesn't "read" Zach's tattoo, it's already done its job. He has always been a really cool kid — so much more than a defective pancreas — and if this bright green snake on his arm deflects attention from the bright blue pump on his hip, right on.

Jamie Peachey

Details

The Flying Troutmans: A Novel
by Miriam Toews
This fourth novel might be my favorite by Toews, my favorite author at the moment, although it's a true toss-up between it and her first, A Complicated Kindness. Both speak to the so-awkward-it's-painful heartbreaking truth of adolescence as well as the damned-if-you-do/don't-ness of trying to guide these kids through life. You'll be hard-pressed to find more screwed up and charming kids than the Troutmans: 11-year-old, purple-haired, bath-phobic Thebes and her angry brother, Logan, whose fantasy girlfriend is Deborah Solomon (yes, that Deborah Solomon). In a move that is part desperation, part wild hair, their seemingly unequipped aunt, Hattie, takes the siblings on a quest to find their father as their mother (her sister) tries her damnedest to die in a mental hospital back home. There is so much acceptance, love, and parental wisdom in this little book — even when a resigned Hattie sits down and smokes a blunt with Logan in a moment of utter truth and vulnerability — that I wished to hell I'd read this instead of Positive Parenting From A to Z. (I find the Little Miss Sunshine comparisons unwarranted; I loved that film for different reasons. And check out Toews' lovely radio work about her own family on NPR's This American Life and CBC.)
Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey
Through His Son's Addiction
by David Sheff
This book scared the living shit out of me, but I owe Sheff a debt of gratitude for the ginormous dose of perspective. I read it last summer while my son was at diabetes camp. He returned with the usual camp tales of cabin shenanigans and skit night — and one new one. A dreadlocked counselor had shared some sincere but off-the-record wisdom on how to "drink diabetic." I tried really, really hard not to react (and now I know that these college-student counselors are known only by their camp nicknames in efforts to stave off crushes turned stalking and lawsuits). Sheff's harrowing tale hits home on many levels, but the deepest one is how vulnerable the act of parenting makes us and how effed up our kids might turn out, despite our best (and I do mean best) efforts. Sheff's kid wrote a counterpoint to his long, long-suffering father's book. Maybe you have the stomach for it.
The Film Club: A Memoir
by David Gilmour
A Canadian novelist and film critic writes about his decision to allow his 15-year-old son, Jesse, who is unhappy at school, to drop out — provided he watch three movies (of his father's choosing) with his father every week. Funny, I keep telling my son that he'd love A Hard Day's Night; Gilmour thought so, too, but Jesse hated it. Their father/son year of magical film watching begins with Truffaut's The 400 Blows, that heartbreaking French paean to misunderstood adolescence. Thing is, no one was paying poor Antoine any attention. Gilmour loves his son fiercely and agonizes about his controversial choice to help him the only way he knows how. Yeah.
"Tattoos: The Ancient and Mysterious History" interview with Joann Fletcher of the University of York in Britain by Cate Lineberry
The history of tattoos is interesting. Did you know that most tattooed mummies are women? And that the tattoos are on their thighs, abdomens, and breasts? One archaeologist believes these tattoos served blessing and protective purposes during pregnancy. Wow.

Andra charged us $150 for Zach's tattoo. His insulin pump, which isn't covered by insurance, cost two grand. He knows this tattoo means that he probably won't be seeing those new EMG 81/85 pickups for his electric Epiphone. Zach told me that he and his friend Frisco are changing the concept for their band anyway; they want to start playing more acoustic and blues. The "betes" blues? Ah, teenagers. So much to lament.

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2 comments
brian R
brian R

Thanks for doing this, I am about to get a type 1 tattoo as well. I will kill this disease it will not kill me

Jenniflower
Jenniflower

I would love to connect with Zach's mom from Let Your Kids Get A Tattoo. My son is 11 and has type 1 Diabetes. I have been considering a tattoo for him also as the bracelet and dogtags just aren't being worn. I am very interested in seeing a color pic. of the tattoo to show my son. We are pretty isolated in the betes world in Vermont and anything that can bring coolness to my son's disease is welcome.

 
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