ASK A MOM: Ear piercing, embarrassing moments, and a toddler’s place on maternity leave

WBTV's Molly Grantham tackles your parenting questions in this ongoing series
Photo courtesy of Molly Grantham

Q: Where are the best (read: cleanest) places in Charlotte to get my daughter’s ears pierced?

A: I took your question to Tiny Gods Jewelry where Mary Margaret Beaver, who founded the fine jewelry shop in south Charlotte in November of 2020, hosts piercing events. She flies in a world-renowned piercing artist from Los Angeles and markets the special events on Instagram (@tinygodsjewelry). In the days that follow, you’ll see well-known Charlotteans like Brooklyn Decker appear in pictures with new ear piercings from Tiny Gods.

“I’ve learned so much about the piercing industry from bringing Stephanie Anders in,” Mary Margaret says. “I’ve learned about the ethics and standards of practice that are the most important. I also have a 9-year-old daughter myself and understand the great importance of choosing the best place to get your child’s ears pierced.”

Mary Margaret first suggests making sure your child is ready for the responsibility of caring for their own piercing.

“Avoid any piercing establishment or office that uses piercing guns because this uses blunt force trauma to make the piercing, and is a one-size-fits-all approach,” she says. “Look for a reputable body piercing studio (oftentimes in a tattoo studio) and make sure they pierce with a needle and use implant grade titanium for the jewelry posts. Choose a proven studio with good sterilization practices that also provides an environment that makes the child feel comfortable and confident. For after-care, follow the piercing artist’s guidelines and use a sterile saline solution for optimal healing.”

Mary Margaret says she “highly recommends” Michael Wilson, whose studio is located in Made To Last Tattoo in Uptown. “Michael is professional, talented, patient, kind, and happens to have two young daughters himself,” she says.

If you’re looking for something more basic, most malls around Charlotte have at least one shop that will pierce ears (Claire’s Boutique, Piercing Pagoda, Rowan in SouthPark Mall)…but be aware, they often use piercing guns. Call ahead to ask their policy if you want to avoid that practice.

Six years ago, I was in your shoes. My daughter wanted her ears pierced for her sixth birthday. We ended up going to Piercing Pagoda in Carolina Place Mall, and I watched as they sanitized things fully. I also watched her sit there and be brave. They used a piercing gun (I didn’t know back then that wasn’t recommended), but to Mary Margaret’s point, the person who pierced Parker’s ears took lots of time to emphasize the importance of homecare.

In my case with Parker, I called the week we wanted to go and asked for a manager. When the manager got on the phone, I then asked who she’d recommend if it was her daughter getting her first ear piercing. She said, and I quote, “me.” I made an appointment around her schedule, and the whole thing took 30 seconds.

Q: What do I do if my child points out someone’s physical difference in public? A few years ago, my then-3 yr old son asked why a woman at the grocery store was so fat. Recently, my now-3 yr old daughter asked why a woman’s skin color was so dark. How do I respond in the moment with minimal embarrassment to everyone around me?

A: Acknowledge the insults. Don’t ignore anything. Directly apologize.

Those three sentences were my gut reaction upon reading your question. But, because this column is based on asking experts to get their professional answers for you, I sent your question to good friend (and frequent contributor here) Juliet Kuehnle, a licensed clinical mental health counselor. I also sent her my ideas on how to answer.

Turns out my instinct isn’t the best approach.

“Well, Molly, I’ll tell you my hot take and you can then use it or not use it,” Juliet said. “But I want to make sure to let you know, I’m not on the same page as you with this one. I don’t think those things are actually insults. We never want to take a colorblind approach, for one. And, ‘fat’ isn’t an insult. It has been weaponized that way, but it’s just a descriptor. Snuffing out these observations can do a disservice to anti-racist and anti-diet culture work.”

Phew. She had my attention.

“Ideally, we’d validate the differences our kid is noticing and then go into some of what you were saying about directly acknowledging. People who exist in larger bodies, or people of color, know they ‘stand out,’ so we don’t need to pretend it’s not a thing. Similar to how it is if your child sees someone with a disability. OF COURSE it’s a delicate conversation. You want to teach your child to understand differences and celebrate the people around them, while not making anyone feel ashamed or hushed. We want to teach general manners about not simply blurting things. But apologies can sort of unintentionally be shaming, so I might say something like, “It’s true, we’re all made differently!”

This, my friends, is why it’s good to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. You’ll spend your days learning as you go, no matter the experience behind you. (Find more about Juliet on her Instagram, @yepigototherapy.)

Kids will say things with no filter. That can be embarrassing. All parents have been in that position. It doesn’t make the moment any less awkward, but take comfort that you are far from the only one faced with such a dilemma.

Q: Should I take my toddler out of daycare while I’m on maternity leave? I work 50+ hours a week, so I miss a lot and I’d love to spend some of this time with him, too. But am I crazy to stay home for 8 weeks with two kids under age 2?


Stream of consciousness just threw up on the keyboard. I apologize. Let’s reel it in and rephrase:

You normally work 50 hours a week, you’re about to have a new baby, and your toddler has fun in daycare with other kids. Maternity leave isn’t a vacation—or relaxing. Plus, eight weeks isn’t a super long time to get a newborn adjusted to the world. Add to that now a toddler? Who demands attention? And needs activities? Provided by you? No way. YOU deserve to have some uninterrupted time with your new baby.

If, after a few weeks, you want to spend some quality time with the 2-year-old creating arts and crafts, sing-a-longs, and outside adventures to connect with him, great. Do it. Keep him home from daycare for one day a week and give it a test run. Maybe on that one day, you can find someone to watch the infant so you have some special one-on-one time with the toddler. Then, see what you think.

Your question is well-timed. The New York Post had an article on this exact debate earlier this month. After a mom posted on Reddit that she was leaving her toddler in daycare during her maternity leave, she got a lot of heat over her decision. Of the many people criticizing, her own mom was Chief Criticizer. Check that link if you want to read more on her journey through the exact question you’re asking.

I stand by what I said. Don’t add more stress to what is already a naturally stressful time. Kudos to you for wanting to split the time with both kids. Just remember, being away from your kids can make the time you do have with them even more special. As a mom of three who works nights, I see my kids on a 72-minute dinner break Monday through Friday, and it’s been this way since my oldest was born. I don’t get to tuck them in. We FaceTime goodnight. My kids know nothing different, and, I tell you with utter honesty, they’re fine. We’re fine. I love them endlessly. I feel very loved right back. We’re used to the nightly distance and value weekends like gold.

Good luck, Momma. Whatever route you choose, be confident if it feels right to you.

Welcome, summer. Enjoy school-free days and less routine. Full calendars will circle back before we know it. As always, submit your questions to Charlotte Parent for next month on its homepage… ask away with whatever you have on your mind. Until then, I’ll see you guys tonight at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m.


MOLLY GRANTHAM is an anchor, author, and mom of three. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram, or catch her on WBTV News at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m.