Mom, can I get a tattoo?

My two boys approached me a few weeks ago with an unexpected question, "Can we get matching tattoos?" Of course they didn't lead with that, no, they framed the questions with all the well-thought out reasoning a 13- and 19-year old can muster. The bottom-line is, my oldest is heading off for his next phase in life and the boys wanted to "remember each other." Yes, I laughed when they threw that at me. It is highly unlikely they will forget each other, or lose contact.

It is estimated between 15 and 25 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. This growing trend has definitely hit the mainstream; people in all walks of life, even those you would least expect, have body art. Celebrities, athletes, even underage stars, sport tattoos. Miley Cyrus, 17, is on her third tattoo, while Justin Bieber, 16, has one. Tattoo Facts and Statistics have been compiling data on tattoos since 1999. They report that 84 percent of people with tattoos do not regret getting it. I am honing in on the reasons why the remainder do regret their tattoo. It seems a large portion of those people cite getting the tattoo too young as the reason they regret it.

I will say my boys came up with a surprisingly meaningful tattoo that will hold its value. It is completely within the acceptable range. They tied their heritage and brotherhood into a very small design. As an artist, I am impressed. As a mom, I can really appreciate the thought that went into it, and I like that it is not a faddish look. But, how can I possibly say yes?

The two of them are both excellent students, star athletes and close friends. I am thrilled they get along so well. Many siblings don't, especially those that have had to share a small bedroom their whole life. The next phase will be hard. It will be difficult to see my oldest go, but life moves on. Distance is not always a bad thing.

In my state, it is illegal to tattoo anyone under age 18 without the consent of the minor's parent, guardian or custodian. My boys looked that information up for me. Thanks guys. Now they are waiting on me to respond. While my oldest can go out and get a tattoo whenever he wants as far as the law dictates, I have decided to take my time responding to the younger one. The ball is squarely in my court. I may even take the full five years until the 13 year old is officially of legal age. Then he can decide if he wants to go through with the matching idea.

And if, by chance, the boys start to forget each other, I am sure I can jog their memory.

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