I arrive at Max and Joy’s house for tea.
Mini-Joy comes running to greet me, but stops suddenly and just stares intently at me. “Hello, Mini-Joy!” I say cheerily, crouching down. “What have you been doing today?”
She continues to gaze at me. “What,” she says finally, sounding more disturbed than I’ve ever heard a small child sound before, “is going on with your hair?”
Well, really. It was bad enough when it was just adults, but The Hair has clearly reached such unprecedented levels of horror that it’s traumatising youngsters. I attempt to explain the whole Hair situation to Mini-Joy, who interrupts me mid-rant. “Are you wearing a hairband?” she asks in disbelief. I refuse to justify myself to a 4-year-old.
We retreat to the living room to colour in instead. I am very good at colouring in, and I begin to relax, forgetting about The Hair as I concentrate on staying inside the lines. “Hayley,” says Mini-Joy thoughtfully, pausing to change crayons, “you have got to get rid of the hairband. It is really very very not good.”
It’s a surreal experience, being in the company of children. As Max and Joy are putting Mini-Joy to bed (apparently a two-person job), I am left cuddled up on the sofa with Mini-Max. He is enjoying his bottle, I am enjoying my newest most favourite discovery in the whole wide world: Nick Junior‘s Classic Kids TV slot. Rainbow! Rod, Jane and Freddy! Up above the streets and houses! Thomas the Tank Engine! The Fat Controller! Ringo Starr doing deadpan commentaries! The Wombles! Underground, overground! Uncle Bulgaria! Paddington Bear! Bagpuss! Camberwick Green!
I don’t think I’ve ever before placed so many exclamations in sequence, on this blog! And I can’t stop! Such is my enthusiasm for the delights I am experiencing tonight, as memory after memory from my childhood flashes before my eyes thanks to the magic of cable. I cling tightly to the sleepy baby in my arms, who is my excuse for the fact that I am watching these shows, despite the fact that he is too small to even hold his own head up. I feel this is irrelevant, as he is bound to be experiencing the benefits of at least hearing Rod, Jane and Freddy singing about butterflies, bats etc. It will help him, somewhere in his developing subconscious.
After all, this is what I grew up with. And look how I turned out.