An expression in common parlance among those who favour what Sam L Clemens allegedly termed "A good walk spoiled". It's something to do with surviving the first few rounds of a competition so as to be allowed to play for the title / prize on the last few days I gather.
It's also what brought Carly to the surgery yesterday. Not that Carly, in all her fifteen years on the planet to date, has ever, in so far as I am aware, been near a Niblick. The problem with Carly is cutting. Specifically, last weekend she wanted to go out late. Mum and Dad said no, so she stropped off upstairs, took a glass fragment, and used it to carve a succession of parallel lines in her left forearm. It now transpires she has been doing this on and off for the past six months, often as a "social" activity with a mate of hers who finally "outed" them both to her own mum last week.
So here are mum and Carly. Carly wondering what all the fuss is about. We tend to label cutting, along with overdoses of tablets and booze, and breaking things, as "acting out" or "attention seeking" behaviour, but the present attention is plainly not what Carly was looking for. In the whole consultation (which lasted nigh on twenty precious minutes) she probably uttered no more than half a dozen words and offered a few disconsolate shrugs. I never got to see her eyes from beneath the brim of the baseball cap that stayed firmly welded to her head throughout. It's safe to say rapport was not established, and not for want of trying. I even asked mum to step out for a few minutes to give her a chance to express heself, but she was plainly disengaged and even talk of psychiatric referral didn't really bother her.
I did manage to get a look at her arm. Five days on there were four very neat, very faint lines on the inside of her forearm. They are healing fine and were never deep enough to leave a permanent reminder. Unless she has been very lucky it looks like Miss Carly knows just how much pressure to apply not to leave a scar. And if her friend hadn't said anything I'm not sure mum would have been any the wiser. But now we have a dilemma.
Mum has freaked. Her little girl is carving herself up which "can't be normal" and Carly won't talk to either of us to help figure out if she has a problem or not. I actually suspect not, but with nothing more to go on I have had no option but to accede to mum's request for a specialist referral.
Many primitive cultures have rites of passage way more painful than anything Carly has so far attempted. If Dan Brown is correct grown men and women practice self mortification now in the name of faith every bit as much as in the Middle Ages. All Carly and her peers have to look forward to is the cringeworthy American import that is the High School Prom. I'm sure in America they are fine, no, hold on, actually I'm not, but that comes from a prejudicial view fostered by the media, and the envy of someone who is the product of an all male education,but the thing is, watching British kids trying to be American is every bit as painful for us parents as it must be for the kids.
It is just possible that Carly, her mate, and the many hundreds of other teens engaged in similar rituals are inventing their own rites of passage. I'm just not sure whether the speciallist referral is an integral part of it or not.
What I do know is that Carly has now made the cut, and is progressing to the next round.