Turns out I don’t know how to braid hair. For some reason, I thought I did. I have a hazy memory of sitting on the floor in my dad’s study, pushing old pantyhose into something resembling a braid. Maybe we were just eating biscuits though, since I also have a distinct memory of waking up on the morning my little sister was born and the sky was yellow and the sun was blue and I would swear breathless that actually happened.
Anyway, this morning both of my daughters asked to have their hair braided for school. This often happens after they’ve visited their paternal grandmother, who is the kind of lovely, soft woman who knows exactly how to do all things that little girls want. She brings a stool into the bathroom and sits patiently while they shower her with soap suds and yelling. When the water has evaporated and merely a thin layer of grime remains, she pulls them from the bath and blow dries them until they are gleaming and their hair is like the spun offcuts of a baby lamb. Then she braids it. It is so neat, just row after row of fine weaving without a single flyaway. Sometimes these braids remain three days later, and they still look better than anything I’ve ever seen on YouTube.
I went into this morning’s effort quite confidently. “Sure!” I said. “You can have braids if that’s going to help you make friends more easily!” but pretty much knew it wasn’t. I sat Georgia down on the floor in front of me and separated the top bit out, which I had seen on TV once. Then I plaited it for a bit, and then I brought in some other bits from underneath. And I kept doing that even though it was starting to look like a Jonathan’s Ladder and Georgia was screaming that her hair felt like it was on fire.
Then I stepped back to look at my handiwork, and I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say it looked like if Pro Hart was an otter and he had just vomited a hairball at the sun.
Ladies and gents, I cannot braid.
This got me to thinking about all the other mum things I cannot do. For example, I don’t know how to work in the canteen because I have the kind of personality that causes me to berate the lunch monitors. I cannot label clothing because I always use the wrong pen and it rubs off on my children’s skin and they have to make excuses about falling down the stairs. In many ways, I might be described as an unfit parent by the Department of Human Services.
This afternoon, Georgia told me she took my braid out before the first bell even rang because it was “uncomfortable”.
Her teacher re-braided it. The 3/4 class told me she was muttering, “What kind of mother does Anna think she is? This looks like an extinct marsupial. She should be ashamed.”
Part of that is a lie. It was really more of an echidna than anything.