My 9-Year-Old Son Talks About Getting a Tattoo

Ryan’s been asking loads of questions lately about tattoos. How do they do them? Why do people get them? Do they hurt? Does it bleed? Does it hurt? Do the needles hurt?

You get the picture.

After I briefly explained the process to him (not that I have any tattoos, mind you), I asked Ryan if he ever wanted to get a tattoo. Without skipping a beat, he responded with, “I’m never gonna get one. They’re expensive and they hurt!”

So I got the idea that I’d ask a number of my friends who have tattoos whether or not it really did hurt, as well as why they got them in the first place. I thought this’d be a good opportunity for Ryan to ask his questions and then help me put together a blog post around it. And that’s exactly what we did.

Along the way, I asked Ryan what kind of tattoo he’d want if he did decide to ever get one. He gave it a bit of thought and ultimately came up with the coolest sounding tattoo ever.

“I’d get a monkey riding a shark, and he’s holding a machine gun. Also, a big circle around it all with the name RYAN on top. My two favorite animals are sharks and monkeys. And I just wanted a machine gun because it’s silly.”

I couldn’t resist hiring someone to actually draw up Ryan’s inspiring tattoo design. So I did. I hit my favorite site Fiverr, and found a fantastic artist to work with. (Aldeen wasn’t just awesome to work with, she did a gorgeous job. I highly recommend using her if you ever need a quick $5 illustration!)

Here’s what she came up with!

Monkey Riding a Shark Tattoo

Pretty cool, huh? I may just get this printed out on a T-shirt for Ryan to wear. Or maybe turn it into some temporary tattoos.

Anyways, with Ryan’s help, we put together a handful of questions and reached out to my tattoo friends. The following folks were kind enough to share their stories and pictures here, so read on to discover what Ryan and I learned from this project.

My Thoughts Ideas and Ramblings

Number of tattoos: 2

Did it hurt? Yes.  It hurts.  🙂  The more fat in an area though, the less it will hurt.
Tatoo Time

“The one I got when I was 19 I drew myself.  I’m considering getting that one redone because I had them use too much black and I don’t like it as much anymore.  My husband thinks its fine so its just a me thing. The second one is a tattoo I got after my cousin died of Cystic Fibrosis.  He was in his early 30s and wanted a tattoo.  However, his doctors wouldn’t let him get one.  My cousin Val and I got them in memory of him.  We did the Cystic Fibrosis rose with the saying he wanted to get tattoo ‘Defy the Odds’.”

Making it All Work

Number of tattoos: 5 (But my husband has 46.)

Did it hurt? At times, yes they hurt. The one on my back hurt the worst. My husband says the one on his shin hurt the worst. That is probably because the skin is so close to the bone there. [NOTE: The purple one and symbol in lower left are Teresa’s. The others are her husband’s.]


“Each of my tattoos has a meaning. The one on the back of my neck is a memorial to my sister that died. I think that each tattoo should have a significant meaning to the person getting them. My husband’s first tattoo was a heavy metal band symbol that he really related to. The lyrics of a song they wrote really helped him through a rough time.”

The Life of a Home Mom

Number of tattoos: 1

Did it hurt? Most people say it hurts but honestly I’m very ticklish and laughed the whole time. Mine is on my right shoulder blade.
"Everybody do the Michigan Raaaaag!"
“Everybody do the Michigan Raaaaag!”

“To me it was just something I thought was cool and I had wanted it for a long while but wanted to make sure it was artwork I wanted on my body for the rest of my life. I had just turned 26 and the day before I finally got my license so it was a way of becoming the woman I had wanted to be, a grown up. My tattoo is something writers call a muse. He looks like a frog (like the WB frog from years ago) in a jester’s outfit. I’m not normally a funny type of person, I come across extremely serious so many are shocked when they hear what it looks like.”


Number of tattoos: 2

Did it hurt? Neither of them hurt. In both cases it felt like somebody was pressing sort of hard and writing on me with a ballpoint pen.
Shawn and Missy's matching Affiliate Summit tattoos.
Shawn and Missy’s matching Affiliate Summit tattoos. Sure hope they don’t change their logo too often!

“In both cases, my tattoos represent chapters in my life. The first one was a frattoo (fraternity tattoo), and it represents the 5(!) years I was in school for my BA, as well as the lifelong membership in the fraternity. I got the second one with my business partner, Missy Ward, and we both got versions of our company logo. We’ve been running the company for 11 years, so it’s a quarter of my life dedicated to it.”

Katie Talks About

Number of tattoos: 10

Did it hurt? Some of them hurt a lot, some hurt a little, and one didn’t hurt at all. That one is on my shoulder blade. I have some on my lower back that hurt a little. I have one on my hip bone that hurt a little more, and I have 2 on my feet that HURT A LOT!!!!

Katie's tattoos
“My tattoos all mean something to me. I guess they are permanent reminders of the important things in my life. Also, I really do think that tasteful (not ones with swear words or naked people or ones that look like a 5 year old did them) tattoos are attractive. My violet on my shoulder blade is in memory of my grandma Violet. I got it about a month after she died. Now my daughter’s name is Violet. My paw print on my foot is my cat’s exact paw print. When she died I had it done. She was very special to us. My sunflower on my ankle/foot is my favorite flower, it makes me happy. I also had sunflowers as my wedding flowers. I have a flaming baseball on my hip. I am a big baseball fan, and most of my best friends I met through baseball.

“I have 5 kanji (Japanese) symbols. They mean faith, heaven, hope, courage, and my name. Of course, they could also mean something else like “I like salami sandwiches” for all I know. But when researching them, that’s what they told me they meant. I have a sun/moon/star on my back. I drew that myself. It’s the only one that doesn’t have a personal meaning beyond the fact that I designed it myself. I thought it looked cool.”

Number of tattoos2

Did it hurt? Both of mine are in the same place on my thighs and they both hurt near my hip but the biggest part of the tattoos didn’t hurt after the outline because they were on my thigh which is a fatty area.
“I wanted something that showcased me. Something that I chose and worked on and would want forever.  I wanted something that no one could ever take from me. I got my cats (who are modeled after Isis, Catwoman’s cat) because I am Kat.  That is me. I have a rich kitty which is a part of my personality (strive to be better, to get rich, to make it in the world) and a poor street smart kitty who is my life. I grew up very poor. Like not eating anything but potatoes if we ate at all, and never having heat or air in our house kind of poor so my tattoos symbolize the fact that I made it despite my background.”

She Scribes

Number of tattoos: 1

Did it hurt? Honestly, no. But then again I have a high tolerance for pain. I was with my husband when he got both of his tattoos and he squeezed my hand the entire time. He squeezed so hard I lost feeling in my hand for a while. LOL!
Kimberly Vetrano - She Scribes
Is it just me or is “honey” spelled wrong?

“I’ve always wanted to have tattoos. I don’t really know why. My husband and I had talked about it for several years then one day he not only dared me, but double dog dared me to get one. So one day when he was at work I went to a tattoo parlor and got a tattoo. He was shocked that I did it. Never double dog (or triple dog!) dare me to do something. LOL!

“I have a honey pot with bumble bees flying around it on my lower leg near my ankle. The pot has “Hunny” written on it. I love Disney and Winnie the Pooh and friends is one of my favorite Disney characters, so the honey pot is paying homage to Disney and Winnie the Pooh. The word “Hunny” is the nickname my husband has given me since we’ve been dating. He spells it the same way too. So my tattoo also has a connection to my husband.”

Shibley Smiles

Number of tattoos: 1 on my right ankle
Did it hurt? This answer is different depending on your pain threshold LOL. I personally have a high tolerance for pain which means it takes a lot for me to complain. Pain that I don’t know when it will end is harder for me to handle then pain I know will end soon. It did not feel good but I basically got use to it quickly and it felt annoying. However it did hurt more so when they got towards my ankle bone.
A rose by any other name…
“I honestly do not know [why I got a tattoo]. At the time I just liked them. However now that I’m older, I see them more for meaning. I would like to get my kids names put around my tattoo and the second tattoo I want to get is a purple butterfly in honor of my father who passed many years ago.”


Do you have any tattoos? 

35 thoughts on “My 9-Year-Old Son Talks About Getting a Tattoo”

  1. Those designs are all very nice. Yes, it’s very important to educate young children about the dangers of having tattoos. Though everyone won’t feel comfortable about it, it’s out there. I would never have the guts to get any kind! ;D

  2. the design is really cute and would look neat on a tshirt.i think he should wait until he’s like 16 or so because by then he might be into different things and might regret it,might not like it anymore.i like watching tattoo nightmares where the tattoo artists cover up the awful tattoos people get when their young and regret getting.the cover up tattoos come out really great

  3. I’m in my fifties and I don’t have any tatoos and don’t plan on getting any. None of my three children have any either. I think they would hurt alot. I did work in the hospital though and as you age that tatoo doesn’t hold up very well. 🙂

  4. The only reason I’d be against a 9 year old getting a tattoo is that they’re too young to make life-long choices. I’m all for self-expression, but parents need to hold off on the permanent decesions until the kid is old enough to know what they want for the rest of their life.

  5. I don’t personally have any tattoos, but both my daughters do. They aren’t my favorite things, but they both like them. They both said they were a little painful!

  6. I’m a little sad I didn’t get to be a part of this 🙂 I have several tattoos and yes – of course they hurt. But the pain was temporary and it wasn’t that bad. I now have permanent reminders of places and times and people who shaped my life in to the beautiful thing that it is today. I love them all. My girls want tattoos and I have talked to them at great length that you should want the EXACT same thing for a year – if you still want it a year after the thought – get it.

    • Lynsey!!!! I didn’t know you had a tattoo? Or several!!! You should’ve responded to my request! Some friend you are. 🙂 I may very well do a follow-up to this piece since so many people seem to love it.

  7. wow my 4 year old has been asking bout tattoos too because she sees them on mommy and daddy. I tell her its a permanent sticker. LOL so hard to explain these things but we are in 2014!!

  8. I got one when I was 16 years old. I submitted my first short story to an anthology and actually managed to get it published when I was 15, done under a pseudonym since I was scared that nobody would take a 15 year old seriously. I got a picture representing that pseudonym as a tattoo to remind me of my accomplishments.

  9. I don’t have any tattoos but my man does. I don’t think they are a good idea for young people until they decide what they want to do for a career.

  10. Tattoos are not for me, and I wish they wouldn’t be for my son. Unfortunately they are pervasive these days and some cousins and Uncles have them so I just have to hope he makes good decisions!

  11. You can use Henna and give him a temporary tattoo that will last for weeks but will just wear off and is natural and safe. That’s always a fun time.

  12. This is such an awesome write up on tats! I personally have 5 (and have at least 2 more planned) My oldest (now married w/her own children) I let her get her first tat when she was 16-IF she pulled top honor roll for an entire year, which she did. Of course I had final say in what she chose lol My youngest, thinks tats are weird, she is 10 lol She said why and what is the point? lol I explained to her that my tats tell a story of my life–each one have meaning or they remind me of a certain time in my life and she just shakes her head lol
    btw, I LOVE what Ryan would have as a tat LOL totally cool!!

    • Hey AwayGirl100! (If that is your real name!) Thanks so much for the comment! Glad you liked the post and Ryan’s idea for a tattoo. I really do need to get that printed up on a shirt for him.

  13. I’ve always admired tattoo art. I’ve thought about getting one of my own since I was a teenager, but I’ve never made it a priority. I just fear I’d get tired of the image or concept. I love how so many people design a lot of meaning into their tattoos, reminders and memorials. It’s a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing your research!

  14. It is great that you got people from various walks of life to talk about their tattoo experience. I really don’t have an issue with tattoos but I probably wouldn’t get one for myself.

  15. The tattoo creation is so cute! I don’t have any but I have been talking about getting one. I just don’t know what I would want that bad Forever on my body

  16. What an awesome creation of his tatoo! I have no tatoos – my husband has two. We were going to have tatoos for our wedding gifts to each other but I chickened out. I can’t get past the pain and cost.

  17. I love the idea of temp tattoos of his drawing. So sweet. I have one on my shoulder blade. It was a whoo hoo im 18 tattoo, and didn’t hurt much. I don’t regret it, but I don’t like it. Ill be getting one more.

  18. I have two . On each leg, above my ankle. The first one is just a little flower design that I thought was pretty. I got it on my 18th birthday as a way to say “Hey, I am legal!” The second one I got after Dakotah was born. It is roses in a heart with her name inside. The rose is for the color of her cheeks ( corny I know) and the heart was for the fact mine belonged to her now. I still want to get one more. A fairy with my youngest daughter’s name in it.
    Mine didn’t really hurt. It was just more annoying than anything.

  19. I have three but ones a cover up so really i’ve been tattooed 4 times and yes it hurt, Every time! None of them have any meaning and all of them were picked from the artists books. I like them enough but I would rather spend my money on other stuff.

  20. Awesome Tattoo Ryan! I have 2 tattoo’s, a small cross on my hand that I did myself and a Butterfly with a tribal band on my lower back area. 😉 The cross on my hand I did myself as a teenager. The Butterfly was done on a wild weekend n Lake Havasu about 13 years ago. I got a little queezy while getting the butterfly done… I got freaked out feeling the needle ripping across my skin, so after a 10 minute break I was fine to continue. I do want to go and get some more color and life added to the butterfly. It’s just blue with no markings.
    But great tattoo Ryan. I think Daddy should get you some temp tattoos and a shirt printed so you can sport it around anytime anywhere.

  21. I do not have any tattoos, but I would like a small one. I do not think I want to get one if it hurts and I am a baby when it comes to needles. These are some pretty cool tattoos on your friends. A temporary tattoo for a child is okay.

  22. I like the idea of putting that illustration on a tshirt. I have one tattoo and well over a decade later I still do not regret it. It’s a combo of my zodiac sign and chinese horoscope symbol. The Chinese is right, I had it double checked. 🙂 next tattoo is being thought out. I would love two sting rays on my side to represent my boys and all our summers and memories at the beach.

  23. Hi Andrew, this is a very cool article and a very cool idea of yours to get the tattoo designed for your son. But maybe you can make your son wait until he is a bit older (+10 years :-)) he might change his mind about the motive.

    I have a tattoo on my bladebone (very difficult place for a selfie). Pegasus the winged horse. And no, it did not hurt much and healed very quickly. An acquaintance of mine wanted a tombstone (yes, this is correct!) and the tattoo artist simply refused to do it (between us: I think he is right about this).

    Have a wonderful day


Leave a Comment