Cassaday, sorry, but here’s what I have to say.
First, you have a shot at a job. That’s key. Yes, it’s a job at a tattoo parlor. Even so, you’ll be earning a paycheck and that’s something you have to do. Your top goal right now, your most urgent requirement, is that you start work as scheduled and that you keep on showing up for work and get paid.
And don’t tell Mrs. Hetch you’re about to start the job. Wait until you’ve started already and it’s been a few months and you’re holding it down. Then you tell her. If you tell her now, if you don’t wait, then holding down the job just keeps you even with expectations. If you do wait, then your having a job will be a pleasant surprise for Mrs. Hetch. Your life will be more together than she thought. At that point you can also mention the words “tattoo parlor.” Middle-class people don’t like tattoo parlors, but if there’s a paycheck and regular hours attached, then so be it.
Second, get Mrs. Hetch’s contact info. Even if it’s just her email, you have to have a way of staying in touch with her. Do this even if you have to show up at her house.
Third, don't act like there’s a crisis! The middle class hates chaos and can smell it. Don’t tell her that what’s-her-name, your landlord’s girlfriend, threatened to slander you by telling Mrs. Hetch you smoke crack. Don’t act like you have to get in your side of the story. You have no story. You’re involved in no controversy. You’re bothering Mrs. Hetch for one reason: to make sure you’ll always know what’s happening in your little girl’s life.
The idea is you’re looking for regular contact: for instance, the twice-a-year visits with your girl, as have already been set up, plus emails to and from Mrs. Hetch so that you have news about your girl.
To get Mrs. Hetch’s contact info, you may have to do something unusual, namely show up at her house uninvited. You have to do this without scaring her. I’d say acknowledge that it isn’t something you’d want in her situation. Promise not to do it again. Tell her further contact will be on Mrs. Hetch’s terms. But tell her that it’ll make a big difference to your life if you know what’s happening to your little girl. Also, tell her that you want to learn from how she raises the girl. The contact won’t just let you know how your girl’s doing. It’ll also help you get your life steadier.
You want to learn from Mrs. Hetch. Stress that. What Mrs. Hetch tells you by email (or however) will help you learn about putting together a life and being a real adult. You’ll learn from seeing how she does things.
People like to teach, especially middle-class people. Also, I think anybody who knows you is going to like you. You’re a decent person who wants the best. Mrs. Hetch might want to keep in touch with you, for her own sake. But, and this is underlined, no chaos. And no sign that you're trying to get more time with your girl.
This is the long game. You hold down a job, you stay in touch with Mrs. Hetch, and she's going to set aside whatever scare stories that what’s-her-name, your landlord’s girlfriend, is going to hand her.
All right, I'm running on. Pick through the above and see if anything’s useful.
Always rooting for you.
—Follow C.T. May on Twitter: @CTMay3