Last August, just before Lulu went into P2, Helen took her to John Lewis to buy new school shoes. The pair they chose were Clarks and very sensible: black Mary-Janes with a wee black bow on the front. It had escaped everyone's notice until school started that these shoes featured a secret compartment just big enough to smuggle a sufficient quantity of hash into the school to see you through the day whilst turning a small profit over the dinner break.
Fortunately the hash compartment in each shoe was already occupied by a tiny pixie. A toy one obviously. Whilst that prevented the smuggling of narcotics it did allow for a dangerous and upsetting exchange of tiny toys to go on. This swapping craze lasted a few weeks and was finally quashed when enough tears had been shed to convince every parent that it wasn't just harmless fun.
The upshot of the swapping fad was that the tiny pixies disappeared very quickly (as did some things that were very precious to Sorrel). So, yesterday I was extremely surprised and Lulu was delighted when one of the pixies turned up in the pocket of an old jacket.
It was a nothing moment in a busy event-filled Saturday. Or so I thought. This morning however this little toy became pivotal in the worst fight I have ever seen between the girls. At the crux of the disagreement sat a misunderstanding. At some point on Saturday Sorrel had asked if she could "have" the little figure. Lulu assumed she meant have as in "to look at". Sorrel thought she had been given the thing in perpetuity.
The fight had no narrative structure but it went on for the best part of an hour. Naturally there were tears but they were the least of it. There was also considerable screaming a quantity of snot plus hitting and hair-pulling. No amount of intervention from either of us helped.
I confiscated the pixie. Partly in the hope that out-of-sight is out-of-mind and partly hoping that they would round on me as a common enemy and forget their fight. No chance. The way they saw it the pixie was now being held by the court pending a decision and so they continued the passionate debate, appealing to me from time to time as though I were Solomon.
Eventually, Lulu gave up. She is older than her sister but also naturally more pragmatic whereas Sorrel possesses the misguided self-belief of Napoleon marching on Moscow. Her will is strong and her determination implacable. I remember my older sisters fighting like this but they were teenagers at the time. The younger of them once broke her sister's finger.
The girls are only six and four. At some point over the next ten years I intend to move into the shed.
Postscript: Later, Lulu and I were sitting quietly together and I said, "I can't believe the two of you had such a big fight over a teeny plastic pixie."
She looked at me in disgust and said, witheringly, "It's not a pixie, Daddy. It's a fairy. Don't you know anything?" whereupon she flounced off.
So that explains everything.