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 mother’s 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 mother’s 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.