Sweet sixteen: We hold a party for Laura in a pub. I know!
To be ready for this celebration, she took herself to the hairdresser for a dreaded perm. My advice, ‘Perms very hit and miss.’ She had started to ignore my input, began to feel her own way.
Laura cried when she came home, said the perm looked like pubes all over her head. Holding onto a laugh, I stepped in: ‘I’ll cut it in layers, take some of the volume out.’ With caution she agreed. The style was horrendous: each lock I chopped sprang in defiance. I devised a style to tame the wayward mop of hair, a French plait up the back of her head, to pull in all the strands, clipped at the top of her head with a pineapple flourish. She looked in the mirror. ‘It looks like a scorpion’s landed on my head.’ She wore that style for six months. She had no choice.
When her hair grew Laura had a haircut, a bob, at jaw level. She looked beautiful. She was starting to bloom.
We were a family unit still. Leisure time and holidays spent together.
Laura had a girl like plumpness, by no means fat to a mother’s eye. Super skinny was the trend which she wanted to follow. She looked over my shoulder when I prepared meals, dictated what and how much she would eat. I treated her like a child, piled her plate high and told her, ‘Get it eaten.’
She gobbled a chocolate muffin one day. There were traces of the delicacy around the toilet bowl. I stormed into her room, demanded to know whether she had made herself sick. She had, and swore she would never do it again.
The first promise of many: broken.