Day 209

Level 2 Chi Kung.

After the rich food of Christmas, I have been craving courgette soup. Since the end of the late summer glut, courgettes have vanished from the market but Nick had reported that they had re-appeared in Sainsbury’s. I left young Sherlock at home and went straight from dropping Katie to the supermarket. The market, sparse in the weeks before Christmas, is abundant again – no courgettes but huge bowls of tomatoes, capsicums, onions, nectarines, and 6 mangos for £1. Having filled almost the entire trolley for loose change at the market, I payed £3 for a couple of kgs of courgettes at Sainsbury’s and headed home.

Yesterday being twelfth night, I made sure to warn the children to say their farewells to the Christmas tree last night, as I would be taking the decorations down today. Before we had children, as committed minimalists, we owned only one Christmas decoration. People visiting in December would look around the flat and say ‘Aren’t you going to decorate?’ And we would respond, pointing to the single, exquisitely tasteful bauble hanging from the window-frame, ‘We have. Up there.’ and then defensively, ‘It’s from Harrod’s’. Children, however, change everything, and we now have such a large collection of decorations that it took me a good three hours to remove them from the tree and pack them all away. In the middle of the process I had to break off to go and collect Katie and, fed up with putting the decorations back in their original packaging (increasingly flimsy ten years down the track…) I took the opportunity to buy some Really Useful boxes to put them in. To my surprise and disappointment, rather than making the decorations take up less space, it has made them take up considerably more – still can’t work out why. In organising the large box that everything (no longer) fits into, ready for its sojourn in the loft, I decided to remove some items that, due to a quirk of fate when packing for one of our many house moves, have long shared accommodation with the decorations. This hadn’t ever been a problem until, at our tree-trimming party in 2013, guests, groping around in the bottom of the box for more decorations, were bemused and embarrassed to emerge holding a breast pump and various containers for the storage of EBM!

At school, Katie and her friends have formed something called the ‘Stone Age Club’, the major activities of which seem to involve: getting very dirty, making mud pies, doing ‘cave paintings’, and making potions. I have been unworried about the potions, as they generally seem to be made from grass and leaves and I am therefore confident that none of the children are going to attempt to actually drink them. On the way home from school today however, Katie and I had the following conversation.

Katie: We’re making a potion at Stone Age Club.
J: Mmm hmm.
Katie: It’s exciting because Arina’s mummy has given her some pills that she doesn’t use anymore and we’re going to grind them up and put them in the potion.
J: [alarmed but trying to sound calm] What are the pills for?
Katie: For making people sleepy.
J: [still trying to sound calm] And what is the potion for?
Katie: It’s for Arina. She doesn’t want her life.
J: [now really alarmed but taking the least alarming meaning] Who’s life does Arina want?
Katie: She doesn’t want anybody’s life. She just wants to leave life. Mummy, I don’t want Arina to drink the potion because she’s one of my best friends.

Googling ‘suicidal thoughts in young children’ yields alarming results, with one reputable-looking site claiming that suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in the 10 – 14 age group. As (bad!) luck would have it, I search my phone but Lena, Arina’s mum, turns out to be one of the few mummies whose phone number I don’t have, so there is nothing I can do until tomorrow.

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