Day 154

Level 2 Chi Kung.

Katie had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, so I suggested last night that she stay home from school today. She asked what time the appointment was and, when I told her 2pm, she said ‘You know Mummy, mostly when children have appointments, they come to school and then their mummies just collect them at lunchtime’. I said ‘Well we could do that if you like.’ “Oh no’ she said ‘I would much rather stay at home’. I let her sleep in and, after I had got Dash off to school, tried myself to go back to bed, but was prevented by Sherlock repeatedly throwing his little furry body against the kitchen door! I set Katie up in the living room with a pile of half-finished homework sheets to get on with while I did Chi Kung and had a shower, with a promise that, once I was dressed, we would do some baking together.

For weeks now, small but annoying cuts have been appearing on my fingers and thumbs and, unable to think of any other cause, I have assumed that they are paper cuts. Unfortunately, as I got out of the shower this morning, I found out the truth – the hard way. Bending down to open the vanity unit in the en suite bathroom, I felt something slightly sharp. I pulled my hand away and tried opening it with the other hand – thus ending up with deep cuts on the tips of three fingers and a thumb, spread over both hands. The stupid porcelain knob had fractured and a sharp piece on the back of the knob (where one can’t see it) had cut all my fingers and blood was spurting everywhere. I eventually managed to get myself all plastered up, by which time I was dry (but frozen) but then discovered that I couldn’t get my bra done up with all my fingers plastered and beginning to hurt. Made do with a sports bra and got some clothes on.

The original plan had been to do Christmas baking, and I had spice biscuits in mind, but at the last minute Katie decided that she wanted to make chocolate cupcakes instead. This was fortuitous as the recipe is so simple that Katie could do almost everything herself and I didn’t have to get my plastered fingers in the mix! Unfortunately we got halfway through the recipe and discovered that there were no eggs. As a teenager I hated babysitting for people who never had any food in the house – it’s no fun sitting up until 3am when the television goes off at 10:30 and you can’t even have a cup of tea because there’s no bloody milk – and I vowed that I would never be one of those people who are always ‘running out’ of things. As a result, we very seldom run out of store cupboard foods – not due to any sophisticated approach to inventory control, we simply keep lots of everything on hand – but years of living within 50 feet of a well-stocked corner shop have made me less reliable on perishables. Now that the nearest eggs are a ten minute walk away, I will have to develop some more reliable approach. We put the dry ingredients to one side and picked up a dozen eggs on the way home from Katie’s appointment. I’m not much of a fan of cupcakes, but these ones were, IMHO, very good indeed. Unfortunately Katie didn’t think so – they were a bit too chocolate-y for her – but she liked them a bit more once they were iced.

In the evening, Siniqua picked Katie up for trampolining and, when they returned an hour later, Siniqua took me to one side and said that Katie had been very upset on the way home but she couldn’t imagine why, as nothing untoward had happened. After Siniqua and Elias had eaten a cupcake and left, Katie insisted she was fine, but later she came up to my room and asked if we could snuggle in my bed. We got under the duvet and she eventually told me what had happened. The bones of it were that X had said something nasty to her. I have been expecting / dreading this for some time. X is a child who tests the boundaries fairly relentlessly. Most of Katie’s classmates are polite wee kids and, while they might well give their own parents a hard time, will certainly behave nicely for someone else’s mummy. But the times we have had X at home, she has trashed the place and teased Dash mercilessly, and when I took her and Katie on a playdate to the beach, she screamed right in my face, demanding junk food which she would under no circumstances be allowed at home. So I guessed from the start that it would be only a matter of time before she started testing other boundaries – like how nasty she can be to her little friends before they push back. It is a delicate situation: Katie adores X and, at the same time, is perceptive enough to tell from my body language that I don’t like her. Not that this is especially difficult – it’s a mercy that Presbyterians aren’t allowed to gamble, as I would never have made much of a poker player. I tried reflective listening and solution-focused questioning but the solutions Katie came up with were for her to go back to her old school (way across town) or for her friend Jackson to move to Blackheath and go to her new school. I will try again tomorrow but I feel deeply uncomfortable with this situation. If all else fails, I might have to read Cat’s Eye aloud to Katie. It contains the best description of bullying by ‘best friends’ I have ever read.

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