It’s just quite possible that I’m as good at doing hair as I am at doing makeup. Which is to say, I’m not very good at all.
Let’s put it this way: my recent attempts at getting The Pixie’s hair into a bun on the day of the Annual Dance Concert was effectively an act of voodoo by way of bobby-pin. And the half an hour I’d allowed for “hair and make-up” in my Stage Mother Schedule, was quickly used up by just “hair”.
Half an hour will be plenty of time, I’d thought. And indeed, it might have been ample had my subject been one of those freaky Barbie heads that stayed completely and utterly still and didn’t suddenly thrash her head about like someone at a Iron Maiden concert for no apparent reason – or rather, no apparent reason other than that I’d stuck a bobby-pin in one of her Jing-river acupuncture points.
By the time I moved onto her face, I was under pressure. And she wasn’t helping by puffing up her cheeks and making “Bhh! Bhh!” noises.
“Stay still, darling,” I said, between gritted teeth, as I tried to apply the mascara on her fluttering eyelids.
“I can’t keep my voice in!” she explained and immediately returned to puffing her cheeks and Bhh!-ing.
“STAY!!!!!!!! STILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed crazy-bitch style, causing my husband to rush in and stage an intervention.
“What the hell has happened to you?” he accused me. And then he glanced over at his daughter and the look on his face clearly said: “And what the hell has happened to her?”.
And both questions were fair ones.
For my part, I was merely keen to be on time to the theatre and lay out the costumes (and related accessories – all in Separate Zip Lock Bags, you must understand) before the performance started and I had to commence my shussssshing of other parents and children. THIS WAS SERIOUS BUSINESS, PEOPLE.
And as for The Pixie? Well, KT had kindly lent me some foundation that claimed on the bottle to be “Cool Beige” but – on my daughter’s porcelain white skin in the harsh light of day – turned out to be more “Hot Orange!” (complete with exclamation mark).
“It won’t look so bad under the stage lights,” I said, somewhat unconvincingly.
When we arrived at the theatre (On Time), we found all the little girls were in a state of high excitement. It would seem that having your hair and makeup done for Concert Night has the same effect on little girls as baths do on dogs: they just wanted to run about and roll around in stuff. And all the horrified mothers could do was to look on in abject horror, shouting “NOT THE FACE!” and “MIND THE HAIR!!”.
In the end, the amount of hairspray I had to use to fix The Pixie’s hair resulted in a mushroom cloud visible from outer space. But her face? Unfixable. With all that smearing, plus some snot-wiping and eye-rubbing thrown in for good measure, it made her look like a bottle of Tan-Fastic had exploded unevenly in her face.
“It won’t look so bad under the stage lights,” I said again, this time even more unconvincingly.
I started wishing I’d made vodka jelly shots to get around the STRICTLY NO ALCOHOL BACKSTAGE ruling . “I could have put fruit in them! Nobody would have known!” I said to myself. “Except, perhaps, when some kids got hold of some and DoCs were called in…” Stupid vodka jelly shots.
In any case, I never had to see how bad her make-up looked on stage. As my daughter’s Official Dresser, I got to watch the whole concert from the dressing room monitor which reduced everyone to grey blobs. The only thing that helped me distinguish The Pixie from the rest of the dancers on stage was that she was the one furthest behind the beat. I mean if you think of the beat being, say, the Sun, then she was standing on Pluto dancing joyfully to the rhythm of her own internal drum.
But even on that grainy old monitor, she was a beautiful sight to see. And I knew my husband and my mother, sitting out in the audience, would be like me: laughing and crying all at once – except they’d be laughing and crying all the more because they would be able to see the make-up.
And then suddenly, before I knew it, the concert was finished. The costumes were packed up (carefully), the make-up was (mostly) wiped off and the bobby-pins were (somewhat painfully) extracted from my daughter’s skull. And I was left standing an Ordinary Mother with an (almost) normal-looking daughter.
Now that it was over, the whole thing didn’t seem that bad after all. All my outrage about the make-up and the costumes and the flesh-coloured underpants and the NO-ALCOHOL-BACKSTAGE dissipated in the after-glow of the concert.
And I found myself being almost (but not quite) disappointed when I overheard The Pixie tell her brother on the journey home: “Next year I’m going to do karate instead because mummy says there are no costumes or make-up.”
I guess I’ll drink to that.