"Mum I love all the colours in your hair!"
"Blonde, grey, white..."
I had known it was time to redo my roots and the comments from my daughter spurred me on.
In fact, there were quite a few things I needed to buy. Jack had recently had a cold and he had complained of a head-ache one morning. Opening the medicine cupboard door, I found I had run out of Calpol and I felt bad sending him off to school without anything to help. It had struck me that there are, in fact, three functions of Calpol:
1. To reduce your child's temperature / relieve pain
2. Parental Empowerment - it helps the parent to feel like they are doing something
3. Empathy - the child feels that their parent has heard them and is trying to help.
They really should have a 3-in-1 logo on their bottle, like the 5-in-1 dishwasher tablets.
When you first become a parent you sort of have a crash-course in various aspects of first-aid and basic medical care. This tails off after a few years, but peaks again when they start school as you are then introduced to a whole new range of issues - head-lice, worms, and tummy bugs. However, once you have experienced all of these, it calms down again. The kids were now in Years 4 and 5 respectively and their immune systems seemed to have adjusted to school life.
Still, I decided that at the weekend, we would pop into the town and stock up on various items from the chemist so that we didn't keep running out of things.
On Saturday morning I woke up tired, having stayed up too late the previous night. I had been trying to send a photo to a friend and it had taken ages. My friend Pam had recently acquired a puppy and she often had me in stitches with her stories of what the dog had been up to, including eating part of a cushion, weeing on the carpet and sniffing other dogs in the you-know-where.
"Their noses are thousands of times more sensitive than humans'" she explained.
"Smelling each other's butts is just another example of chemical communication in the animal kingdom. It's like "speaking with chemicals," and that's how dogs ask about another dog's diet, gender, and emotional state."
I was quite fascinated by this and that evening, I came across a photo of "that kind" of dog sniffing and as a joke, decided to email it to her. Unfortunately, my wi-fi was playing up and it ended up taking ages to send, and as a result, I was tired and a little grumpy the following morning.
Still, today we were going to get organised, I was going to go to the local chemists and stock up on everything we would need for the coming term.
I was looking at the bottles of hair dye when I heard a voice beside me.
"That range is really good for covering grey!"
It was Fiona, a mum from the school.
It's always a bit embarrassing, bumping into someone you know at the chemist. You try really hard to not look at what they are buying, because it's all quite personal stuff, things you buy at the chemist, not things that are normally in the public domain.
I felt that I was being given a second chance to make a good impression with Fiona.
A few days earlier, I had driven to school to pick up the children. I am very fortunate that I live within walking distance of school; however we were going to the park after school so I needed the car. The road is really busy by the school, and it's very hard to find a parking space but eventually I found one and I tucked the car in as much as I could so it didn't obstruct traffic. Unfortunately, I parked so close to the hedge that I couldn't open the driver door. Deciding I would have to exit via the passenger door, I swung one leg over to the passenger footwell but as my legs are not very long, I couldn't quite get over in one manoeuvre. This whole situation made me laugh, and that was when Fiona knocked on the car window, peering through to see me with one leg on the passenger side, one leg on the driver side, and me laughing to myself, in an otherwise empty car.
I could have sworn she was intending to ask for my help with the Harvest Festival but she seemed to change her mind, because she simply made polite conversation on the way to school and I forgot to ask her what she had wanted to talk to me about.
So now here we were, in Boots the Chemists, and I was determined to create an impression of a sane person, for that is after all what I am. More or less.
"Yes, I find this one the best" I said in a friendly voice.
"Mum, can I print that picture for my Egypt homework?"
Aaaah my darling daughter had saved my life, or at least my dignity.
"Yes of course darling, did you finish the piece on the pyramids?"
Sigh. Just to be able to drop into conversation something about Egyptian pyramids immediately made me feel like a more educational, civilised person.
"Girls just love learning!" I beamed at Fiona before turning to Jenna who was at the Kodak booth. She chose the blue tooth option, and up on the screen appeared all the photos from my phone. Including the one of the sniffing dogs.
Jack and Jenna started to giggle.
"Mum, why have you got that weird photo?"
"I, I was just doing something last night"
I blustered as I desperately swiped the screen of the photo booth, but you can never find an Egyptian pyramid when you need one.
We eventually found the correct pictures, printed them and went to the counter to pay. I could see that Fiona was still browsing the beauty products but I decided to just pay and leave.
The woman behind the counter scanned our items and then asked
"Is there anything else I can help with today?"
I tried to answer her but only a squeak came out.
Jenna took the shopping list from my hands and, in a nice loud voice, clearly said
"Two bottles of Calpol, three bottle of head-lice shampoo, and a packet of worms tablets please"