I sally forth with 20 minutes reprieve, to the corner shop to buy my caffeine fix. My face is puce, windburn rather than sunburn, evidence of Summer's existence in England. I leave my compulsive hand washer and the rest of the rabble in the tender care of their father.
My new skin tone clashes violently with the radio active rock emblazoned on my chicken chest, a wedding anniversary present. The gift is a Dichroic rock, a by-product devised by NASA. It flitters between an iridescent shade of lurid green and virulent neon pink. Co-incidentally, it's arrival matches the children's sudden interest in minerals, gem stones and fossils that appear to consume our every waking moment. Since we are on holiday and therefore technology free, we are rapidly growing an impressive library of books, pamphlets and brochures on the subject.
By some stroke of genius, we also mined a true 'find,' a touchstone indeed, in the form of a lump of Quartz with it's own little bag labeled 'worry stone.' It might as well have been carved in granite, chiseled in marble as a miraculous 'cure' for the OCD amongst us. I have a whole new respect for cheesy seaside shops. He quotes directly from the accompanying leaflet:- 'an excellent channeller for healing, dispels negativity,' which it most certainly does! A closet Indigo child perchance! Proof positive of the power of mind over body, as long as we remember to bring the lodestone along.
His ability to absorb and regurgitate facts, is exactly matched by my own shortcomings, my inability to do likewise. Hence, I have had the forethought to write 'Dichroic' on my left hand. I also have the gift of second sight, a veritable Nostradamus but even more scientific, reliable to a statistical significance of plus or minus 3, or 7 on a really good day. I know that some stranger will ask me, 'what is that thing glowing on your rib cage?' and I shall be dumbstruck, wordless and brainless in response.
I keep up a cracking pace along the path, bent horizontal into the force 9 gale. I see evidence of seagull carnage on the path. Only the feathers remain, swirling against a wall long after the urban fox has departed. I have yet another reason to be thankful that I'm alone and have escaped the trigger of death and all other matters related to a tenuous life span.
Strangely, once in the coffee shop, no-one asks about the rock, either because it is barely dawn or alternatively because the glow is smothered by several thick layers of waterproof clothing, customary attire for those on a beach holiday.
Fortunately the weather means that I am propelled back to the flat at warp speed with the coffee still piping hot, all ready for the next barrage of questions from the boys. Inside the gloom I prepare myself mentally for the vast diversity of instant explanations of all things English to include 'the purpose of clotted cream' and 'the true nature of a cornet.' How come I am suddenly the resident expert on all things English, a role for which I am woefully ill equipped. Sadly, I am poorly prepared for my daughter's surprise question as she peers over her book, with a nest of bed head hair “what does 'cleavage' mean?” I look at the book, 'A concise guide to rocks and minerals,' and her gaping nightie neckline. I blink and think as she continues, “ I get the 'name,' 'hardness,' 'specific gravity' and 'lustre' even though they spelt 'luster' wrong on the chart but what's cleavage?” Vast chasms of ignorance play with my brain. How many times am I destined to be exposed as an idiot before first light? Parenthood is so unfair on the middle aged. What use is my encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs now, assuming that information was still available and not already written over by miscellaneous facts and figures about Thomas, only to be subsumed by Pokemon details? “It must be something to do with…..splitability, how easy or difficult it is to shatter it.” I run away into the kitchen where I can wrack my thesaurus for a proper substitute for 'splitability,' wash my hands prior to breakfast and scrub off the ink as my youngest son pounces on me, “no!”
“No what? I mean……er….”
“I am mean stop, do not be wash yur hands.”
“Why? I'm just about to make breakfast.”
“You are not need to be wash yur hands now.”
“Why? Er breakfast……!” I seem to be caught in my own loop.
He uncurls his index finger to jab me in the chest, “because nuffin bad is happen. Now you are be have yur worry stone.”