Why I let my six-year-old wear temporary tattoos on school photo day

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

My daughter absolutely loves tattoos. I'm talking unicorns, rainbows, stars and butterflies - the brighter the better. Obviously I mean kid-proof wash-off temporary tattoos. Not the real thing. I'm not totally mad.

A local toyshop stocks a huge range of temporary tattoos. They cost $2 for a strip of four and my six-year-old often spends all her hard-earned pocket money on them. She has a big collection stored in her jewellery box along with her other treasured possessions.

Look, I admit that when she first started with the temporary tattoos I wasn't massively keen – my inner snob worried that they are a bit tacky. But how can I, proud owner of two tattoos, tell my little one that they don't look good? Especially, since my latest (a stick figure girl on the back of my arm that matches with one my sister has) was done recently and admired wherever I go.

Perhaps one of the reasons that my daughter loves tattoos so much is because she wants to be like me!

On top of all this, using temporary tattoos is a small way that my daughter can express herself. There are so many rules that our children have to follow. So many things that they don't get any say in. Her routine is dictated by school hours and activities; her uniform is boring and old fashioned. So letting her use temporary tattoos to gain a small amount of autonomy felt good for both of us.

So, when my daughter came downstairs with an array of temporary tattoos up her arm the night before school photo day, I was torn.

Knowing that the school would probably frown on temporary tattoos I wondered if I should insist that she jump straight in the bath to soak them off. But then, on the other hand, what was the difference between a temporary tattoo and a bit of nail varnish, earrings or an enormous Jojo bow? - all things that other kids at her school wear daily. 

I decided that as long as we were complying with the uniform policy that we could let the temporary tattoos slide. After making the fairly snap decision I didn't think much more about it.

But when my daughter came out of school the following day she was cranky. The photographer, hired by the school, had tried to scrub off her tattoos before taking her picture. She was mad. Not only did he try and scrub away the art she had put time into applying, he didn't ask her first. I've taught my girls that no one can touch you without consent, so she knew that his actions were seriously uncool.

I imagine that the photographer wanted to get the best possible pictures and perhaps he felt that a six-year-old with tattoos up her arm wasn't a good look. Maybe he worried that other parents would complain about the class picture. But really, the tattoos were none of his business.

I haven't seen the photos yet, but look forward to receiving them. I hope that my daughter's specially chosen photo day tattoos are clearly visible in the photo. And I hope that the only thing that bothers other parents is the frown on her face caused by the heavy-handed photographer.