A busy day, up before 8, asked by Gill to get one of the children downstairs and get him dressed. I managed to do this and then distracted both of them (whilst they ate breakfast) by reading them a book which arrived in the post yesterday, sent to me by CRAGger Anna in Peckham, who knows my enthusiasm for composting. It's an American book called 'The Magic School Bus Meets the Rot Squad, A Book About Decomposition' (published by Scholastic Inc, ISBN 0-590-40023-1, 1995) It is a childrens' book, aimed perhaps at 4-7 year olds, so a bit young for my 8 and 10 year olds, but it was funny and appreciated. More than this, it helped them forget that they weren't wanting to go to school and they went on autopilot, I took them in without any problems whatsoever.
Home and to work.... got three carrier bags of potting material together, one of loam, one leafmold and one compost, and put these with the rotaseive ready for Green Thumbs this afternoon, where we are potting on seedlings from their seed compost in tiny pots into richer compost in bigger pots. Then I got six carrier bags of riddled compost to take to the veg shop and then on to the lottie to prepare three trenches to plant more potatoes, which went in soon after. Got home at 1.45, more than ready for lunch.
Did a bit of computery stuff after lunch and so soon it was 3 o clock and time to go to school to help out with the Green Thumbs Gang... my job was to show the children how to riddle the various materials and then use the resultant mix to pot up the seedlings.
As the children were getting ready to leave, I had a brief word with the mother of L----- who attends the gardening club and is wildly enthusiastic and talkative. A couple of days ago L had picked several horse chestnut leaves off a tree and was using them in various poses as costume/playthings and she came to show off to me. I asked her whether she should have picked them... in retrospect this was a little bit too much of a 'killjoy' and perhaps a bit strict and authoritarian. However, I was brought up to not pick stuff off plants as some are toxic (ivy, laburnum), others irritate skin (hogweed) and others cause photosensitisation. Also, picking wild flowers is illegal and picking something from someone elses property could get someone into trouble. Also, leaves are there to help the plant grow... all these things are reasonable rerasons not to pick plants willy nilly. But I accept that it was inappropriate to ask L the question. Her mother, however, told me not to speak to her child as I wasn't her teacher and I had no right to speak to her 'like that'. I apologised immediately but wanted to say why I'd asked her if she should have picked the leaves, so I'd written a note to L's mther and tried to give it to her after the gardening club.
Her reaction was quite extreme... she said if I didn't leave her alone she'd call the police, and then said "I'm sure they have your details already" which was most unkind and it made me think that she thinks I'm some sort of criminal! It upset me but I remained polite. Her words went round my mind all evening. I did speak to Julia, the Green Thumbs chair, and she was shocked and suggested I let the school know about the situation. There's nothing that can be 'done' about this, but incase she makes any allegations in the future or kicks off with someone else, I decided to tell someone at school.
An evening worth forgetting after this. Didn't feel very happy.