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Sinead Ryan: Brangelina aren't the only parents faced with the dread 'tat chat'

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It's not easy finding intimate time when you've six young children, which is why Brangelina sometimes sneak away to a secret grotto behind the pool on their LA property. "It's an old Hollywood property... just a few minutes that way... and rumour is Jimi Hendrix spent some time there. That's the story. I run with it, Brad said.

It's not easy finding intimate time when you've six young children, which is why Brangelina sometimes sneak away to a secret grotto behind the pool on their LA property. "It's an old Hollywood property... just a few minutes that way... and rumour is Jimi Hendrix spent some time there. That's the story. I run with it, Brad said.

It's not easy finding intimate time when you've six young children, which is why Brangelina sometimes sneak away to a secret grotto behind the pool on their LA property. "It's an old Hollywood property... just a few minutes that way... and rumour is Jimi Hendrix spent some time there. That's the story. I run with it, Brad said.

“How do I say ‘no’?” wails Angelina. Well, with great difficulty, dear.

She’s talking about tattoos. Those of us parents of teenagers find it much easier to put the foot down if we’re not hypocritical.

Inking, to me, isn’t art at all, but dirtying your skin permanently, so a big, “Not while you live under my roof” did the trick when I was beset by demands and pleads for tats at 16. 

I intoned laws prohibiting it: warnings of doctors, gardai, school expulsions and career-limiting prospects.

As I proffer clear (if slightly wrinkly) dermis myself, it was straightforward enough to be truthful and withstand the eye-rolls to allow them experiment instead with crazy fads of hair colour, clothes and even piercings.

We discussed navels, tongues and ears with dire warnings about infections, hepatitis, oozing gunk and terrible cautionary tales from the internet, but at least they’re not permanent. 

Everything stuck in or on the body can be removed, changed or altered as the fad becomes boring or age inappropriate. 

But tats are there to stay. Angelina is the proud possessor of 17 of them.  Her body art is prominent whenever she turns up at a red-carpet event.

Nobody’s looking at them of course, they’re checking out her designer gown or arm candy, aka Brad. But the rest of us don’t have those options.

Pitt has 12 inkings himself and is rumoured to be “horrified” at the notion of any of his kids getting them done; apparently they’re asking already, even though the oldest, Maddox, is only 13.  They grow up faster in La-La land, obviously.

Ange has already realised that her own fondness for ink has automatically made it much harder to say ‘No’ to her kids with anything approaching credibility.

We all like our children to imagine we grew up with none of the vices we want them to avoid. We convince them we always drank sensibly, studied hard and came home at a reasonable hour. 

We persuade them that we always practised safe sex (and really only with their other parent), and that travel was for intellectually broadening the mind rather than engaging in drunken parties in Greece with some guys you met off the            boat.

teenager

Sometimes they believe us, as we trade being viewed as really, really boring for ensuring that they don’t actually follow in our footsteps. 

But when it comes to an obvious sign – a butterfly on the shoulder or ‘Derek’ spewing halfway down your bicep when their dad is called Peter, it’s harder to be credible.

Brangelina, between them, have a mixture of poetry, Asian symbols, names, dates and other images all over themselves so imagine how that conversation with a sceptical teenager will go? It’s going to be a case of “Do as I say, not as I do”.

In my own case, I banned any such thoughts until 18, by which time I figured they’d have grown out of the notion, or if not, there were far more dangerous things they could be doing to themselves.

I did resort at one stage to emailing them distasteful pictures of pensioners who had tatted themselves as young adults, just in case they were unaware of the effect of gravity on skin.

For all I know, the eldest could now have a bald eagle in full flight on her back, but at least it wasn’t on my watch.


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