(Short note: I wrote this post back when the date says, saved it with the plan that I’d give it a reread for any edits prior to posting it, spent a lot of time not getting around to it… and I am now getting back to it in January 2015. Normally I just post my late posts when I post them, but this was downright ridiculous and anyway the story comes from last June, so I’ve posted it with the original date. This may of course be confusing to anyone who checked my blog in the meantime and knows perfectly well that this post wasn’t up until June, so, there you go, that’s the explanation.)
“Guess how many imaginary friends called Katie I have?” Katie asked me this morning.
“No. Guess again.”
“Yes! That’s right! There are the SuperKatie twins; that’s one and two. The Hero Katie twins; that’s three and four. And Commander Katie, who’s in charge of them and has a sword. You do not want to make her angry because she might hurt you.”
“Um… she’s got an imaginary sword” I pointed out. “How much is she going to be able to hurt me?”
“A lot.” Katie clearly wasn’t having any of her imaginary friends dissed here.
Meanwhile, Katie has made some real friends at school, one of them a girl called Catherine. Her mother and I finally, after some false starts, managed to set up a date for Katie to visit last Friday, and the two of them played happily together for hours, decorating Catherine’s living room to look like a park so that they could have a picnic there, and finding a dead bee and (Catherine insisted) an orange tarantula in the garden, which Catherine rapidly retrieved her plastic sword for defense against (yup, let me know how that works out for you, child). Then I invited Catherine’s mum in for a coffee when she dropped Katie off and the two girls promptly disappeared upstairs to see Katie’s room, reappearing some time later to ask for flour, salt and sugar for the strength potions they were making for the fairies. I provided small amounts of all of those, but drew the line when they returned later to ask for butter.
“But we need butter! The invisible spell book says so!” Catherine protested.
“Sorry.” I stood firm against the apparently unassailable logic. “The other things you had can be vacuumed up if they spill on the carpet. Butter makes too much of a mess.” (Also, we only had olive spread. I decided not to get into discussions of how that might affect the potion quality. Strong fairies with better cholesterol profiles?)
“Why don’t you use invisible fairy butter?” Catherine’s mother suggested.
“Fairies don’t have butter,” Catherine insisted.
“Yes, they do! They use it to fly.”
“Fairies do not use invisible fairy butter to fly,” Catherine explained patiently. “They use pixie dust.”
Catherine’s mother conceded the point, but I remained firm on not conceding the butter, so the two of them retreated and (I later learned) made do with the last of the rose lemonade instead, which Catherine assured Katie was authorised as an adequate substitute by the invisible spell book. Equipped with all of that plus chalk dust, the multicoloured bubble mixture we’d bought a couple of weeks ago, and gold glitter glue, they mixed happily away upstairs and, by the time we eventually went upstairs for Catherine’s mother to retrieve her daughter, had a nice little laboratory going on the table in the children’s bedroom, from which they’d produced two brimming pots of work-in-progress strength potion (and slopped a lot of water onto the library books, which may never be the same again). Catherine was solemnly directing operations – “Shine the torch on that for two minutes, Katie! It needs some light!” – and proved difficult to extract, but eventually she departed with promises all round that she could come and visit again shortly and finish the potions then. In the meantime, Katie will keep enjoying the company of her imaginary friends.