File Under: ‘Why Do These Things Always Happen to Me?’
I mean… you can probably see where this is going, can’t you?
In my defense, I really didn’t think these two very separate events had any chance of colliding – which, in retrospect, should really have been enough to tell me they would, in fact, collide. It’s always the way of things, isn’t it?
Still, though: the health visitor appointment had been penciled in for Wednesday morning, but she’d called the week before to say she’d have to reschedule. We spent the next few days playing phone-tag in order to make another appointment, but, by the time Wednesday rolled around, we still hadn’t managed to actually speak to each other. So Terry took Max to playgroup as usual, and, left to my own devices for a couple of hours, I naturally decided this would be the PERFECT time to ruin my hair. So I broke out that bar of Caca Rouge I’d had since Christmas, and got to work.
Now, I may or may not do a post about this at some point in the future, but, for now, suffice it to say that if you’ve ever used henna, you’ll probably know that it has to stay on your hair for a few hours in order to work. And if you’ve ever used Caca Rouge in particular, you’ll know that grating it up into powder form is… well it’s a workout, basically. As in, my Fitbit literally logged it as a workout, THAT’S how hard it was.
It took me the best part of 30 minutes to prepare the henna, then another 20 to apply it, and a further 5 to dab frantically at the stains I’d managed to get on the old grey hoodie I’d thrown on in preparation for the mess. So it was a WHOLE THING, basically, and, by the end of it, I just wanted to collapse on the sofa and have a nice, peaceful cup of coffee, while the henna did its work.
Naturally, then, that was when the health visitor called to say she COULD make the appointment after all, and would be there in an hour.
Now, any normal person at this stage would simply have apologized and said, “Whoops, sorry, I’m not available now, because I’ve made other plans/ have a headful of henna/ am dead – or whatever.
I, however, am not a normal person, so I just said, “Cool, see you then!” Then I put down the phone, looked in the mirror, and WEPT.
Then I obviously got right onto Instagram, where I set up a poll to ask people if they thought it would be acceptable to greet the health visitor with a towel wrapped around my head, and a stained hoodie on. (Because, no, I didn’t have any other old tops I could easily get over the towel, and not care if I ruined them. OF COURSE not.) Well, I mean, I’d just spent the best part of an hour preparing and applying the stuff, so the thought of doing all of that just to immediately wash it down the plughole really didn’t appeal somehow.
Now, I should probably say here that I’m under no illusions that health visitors give a rat’s ass about my hair. Obviously not. I know perfectly well that their job is to help us, not to judge us, and that this one was coming to see Max, not me.
The thing is, I knew all that, but I also kind of wanted to come across as… well, NORMAL, for want of a better word… in this interview, in order to make up for all of the times I’ve appeared NOT normal in these situations.
The first couple of times the health visitor came round, for instance, right after Max was born, I was borderline hysterical, because my health anxiety had been triggered by the birth, and I’d convinced myself I had cancer.
Every other time, meanwhile – and I do mean EVERY. SINGLE. TIME – Max somehow managed to injure himself mere hours before the health visitor arrived. I’m honestly not joking here. We would go months on end without him hurting a single hair on his head, and then, on the morning of the visit, he would invariably end up head-butting the coffee table or something.
He was never seriously injured, thankfully, but it did mean that he always – ALWAYS – met the health visitor with some kind of suspicious looking bruise or cut, which I would stress about for days, worrying that she was going to think we were either neglecting or abusing him in some way, and … yeah. What a fun year that was, to be sure.
Anyway. While I wasn’t expecting to impress anyone during this latest visit, I have to confess that I WAS hoping to not be wearing a towel on my head for it, say. Because I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel like my best self in a towel turban. It makes me look like a boiled egg, basically. I don’t love that for me, and let’s be honest – you wouldn’t love it for yourself either, would you?
This, however, was to be my destiny, because, by the time I’d finished faffing around on Instagram, hauled the old carpet that had been dumped in the kitchen out to the shed, and hastily crammed all the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher (along with the newly-cleaned ones), it was almost time for Max and Terry to return from playgroup, anyway.
“At least this time Max will be un-injured when he meets the health visitor,” I thought to myself as I ran upstairs to put on a bra and trade my PJ bottoms for a pair of jeans. “That’s the main thing, after all!”
Naturally, then, Max walked into the house five minutes later with his left eye red and swollen, having apparently been hit in the face by some kind of flying missile at playgroup.
I KID YOU NOT.
Anyway. The health visitor duly arrived, and, of course, she’d brought a student nurse with her, so there could be two people to witness my shame. Fortunately, they were both lovely. They graciously accepted our assurances that we had not, in fact, punched Max in the face shortly before they arrived, and assured me that it was absolutely fine for me to be attending this important meeting on my child’s development with a skanky old towel balanced precariously on my head.
Have you ever actually done that, though? Like, sat with a group of people you don’t know, having a Very Important and Serious Conversation… but with a towel on your head?
Because I can now confidently answer YES to that question.
And I can just as confidently tell you that no, I DO NOT RECOMMEND.
Because, the thing is, while it definitely wasn’t the MOST awkward situation I’ve ever found myself in (That would probably be the time I unwittingly tried to invite the pizza delivery guy to my party, although the time I almost burnt my own face off before welcoming a houseful of guests gives it some stiff competition ), it wasn’t exactly my FINEST moment either, really.
But it was to get worse.
Everyone took a seat (Except me. There were no seats left at that point, so I just kind of stood there. With a towel on my head. Like an absolute TIT.), and the health visitor began her assessment, which Max tolerated politely, while very obviously just waiting for a gap in the conversation, so he could attempt to embarrass us further.
As soon as the gap came, he lost no time in sliding into it.
“There’s something I’d like to tell you,” he announced importantly, addressing the health visitor, while Terry and I exchanged worried glances.
“Oh yes?” she said, smiling kindly. “And what’s that.”
“There’s a cupboard in this house,” said Max gleefully. “That’s so, so, SO messy, that it makes my mummy feel SICK when she looks into it. Would you like to see it?”
“Er, no that’s OK, thanks,” said the health visitor politely.
“Come,” ordered Max, holding his hand out.
Both women continued to demure, but Max was absolutely insistent, which is why his 48 months assessment also included a comprehensive tour of the Cupboard Under the Stairs, a.k.a. My Secret Shame.
There is, however, some good news in all of this. Max passed his assessment with flying colours. The henna only turned my hair a little bit orange. And the cupboard under the stairs will be getting burned to the ground, just as soon as I can get round to it…