Today I have spent two hours in the hairdressers. Not a big deal for most people, I realise, but it is for me. I don’t go to the hairdressers very often as it involves my husband having the children by himself for a few hours at a time when we are not rushing off to do other things. It is also quite expensive so in order to keep the peace, I try and hold out for as long as possible before I go. I love the process of having my hair done. It is two hours where I can sit down by myself, be a little bit pampered, have someone else make me tea and coffee with no children in sight. Bliss. However, today I had a different hairdresser and that always makes me a little bit nervous.
Most people I know are happy for anyone to do their hair; when I say anyone, I do generally mean anyone qualified to cut hair, although some people will let anyone with a pair of scissors and a comb. Not me. My husband is somewhat mystified by my reluctance to change hairdressers and my great distress when a much loved hairdresser moves on to pastures new. Yet he has witnessed the photos of the young school girl adorning my mothers walls with hideous basin cuts and zig zagged fringes. It was not pretty I can tell you.
I’m not completely blaming my mother for my fear of bad hair cuts. A lot of my friends had the home treatment too. That was the way it was when I was at school, if you went to a hairdressers post puberty, you must have been very posh. I wasn’t, so it was my mothers scissors for me and I nearly lost an ear or three too in the process when she momentarily lost concentration.
When I went to high school, I ran with great relief to the hairdressers and I was overjoyed to finally have a trained professional cut my hair. I was an eighties teen and I so wanted my very straight mousey hair to do something more exciting. I dallied with black but as a pale teen, I looked very odd. There was a period of ‘Sun In’ a terrible home bleach spray for hair that turned my hair into something that resembled orange straw. Not a good look.
So I resigned myself to mousey and spent a few years having my hair permed. I may as well have tipped money straight down the drain as my hair is so straight and fine that it would be left with a slight kink after a couple of washes. Nevertheless, I spent many hours plaiting, moussing, scrunching and drying my hair with my head upside down in a desperate attempt to look like the ladies from Bananarama. Alas it was all in vain.
My first really bad experience was in the sixth form. I was seventeen and decided to try a new ‘trendy’ salon that a friend had recommended. Well the hairdresser was lovely but she completely mutilated my hair and my self esteem with it. She had aimed for a very eighties spiked look with layers but as my hair is so fine it was just wrong. I didn’t leave my room for two days it was hideous. Luckily I could just about scrape it up into the worlds smallest pony tail with about fifty clips and with a big bow, I re-emerged vowing that I would never set foot in a hairdressers again.
I did of course much later, but old and wise enough to accept that my hair was what it was and that I should stop trying to kid myself that it was ever going to be any different. I stopped gazing endlessly through magazines choosing styles that would suit me as most of them wouldn’t. I spent my university days in plaits and pony tails and it was only when I was working that I finally plucked up the courage to return to a salon. I was lucky. My hairdresser for the next few years was amazing. She suggested a few sensible ideas and it worked. When she gave up to be a full time mum, I was seriously devastated.
Since then, I have been to an expensive salon in a town near where we live. The hairdressers there are great. It is trendy but they seem to accept that I’m not. I enjoy sitting and having an hour to myself and I particularly like the head massage they give you when you get your hair washed. It does cost a fair bit and my husband always visibly winces when I tell him I’ve made an appointment. But it is important for me, I am completely neurotic about going somewhere new and it being a disaster. The first hairdresser I had there was amazing. Even though she didn’t see me that often, she remembered all the children and it was like seeing an old friend when I had an appointment. When she left, I seriously considered moving to Cornwall with her, but that seemed a little drastic.
After my experiences, I won’t cut the children’s hair. I have occasionally trimmed a fringe but not very well. I did cut R’s fringe once; stupidly just before we had a family photo shoot booked, and so that awful fringe cut lives on in a load of photos we have around the house. There was one time when my husband asked me to cut his hair with clippers. An easy job I thought. How wrong was I? IT was horrendous and I am ashamed to say that I made such a terrible job of it, O had to step in and finish the job properly.
Fortunately, the kids are great about having their hair cut on the whole. L was a nightmare with hair cuts and for a couple of years, I had to clamp him on my lap while the poor hairdresser had to quickly shear him with the clippers at break neck speed. A is absolutely amazing. I started taking her to a salon in town early last year and she has never looked back. She clearly sees it as a natural part of her role as a ‘woman’ and she sits there patiently tilting her head backwards and forwards to order. The promise of a pink lollipop also helps matters. At least there won’t be any dodgy photos to embarrass her with in years to come.