All things soporific

Good old Beatrix Potter. Based on the evidence of her film alone, I think we would have got along very well. She loved children, stories, being an individual and preserving good things for future generations.

Unlike me, she had a great business head and made her books the right size for small hands, and at an affordable price – the equivalent of 5p a book. I used to think some of her vocabulary was beyond young children however, as well as their amanuenses. Now I have realised that you don’t have to read all the words while your small person cannot yet recite each page.

The word that most readily reminds me of Beatrix and her amazing imaginative world is soporific. She uses it at the start of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies when referring to the little-known sleep-inducing effect of eating lettuce.

Eating lettuce doesn’t do it for my family, despite receiving great quantities in our veg box in recent weeks. It’s actually rather good stuff, but is obviously growing in abundance right now.

One of us still only accepts breast-milk. Today he learnt the soporific effects of swimming, at his first trip to the local baths. He was in his element, and loved being splashed by older children and being held in shallow water, unlike his sister. He was falling asleep cuddled up in his towel as she took a few cautious steps and then found the whole thing was in fact great fun.

One of us (the normally decisive but unduly cautious one) does her best to avoid anything soporific, but a bit of outdoor activity or a bath and a story usually does it for her. She likes making up stories now at bedtimes, usually including girls called Lily going to the shops or park with a dog called Beaky.

Two of us need very little now to send us to sleep. Seeing as we have to do this a number of times a night, it is second nature now. The formula milk is still not being consumed in any quantity, so we get quite variable sleeping patterns.

Maybe we should be adding Riverford’s finest lactucarium to Joseph’s bottles and hoping he takes a little more sometime soon.


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