I think I mentioned when I started writing about this whole experience that, in preparation for the post-apocalyptic world that is parenthood, we had done a load of batch cooking, filling the freezer with foil trays full of wholesome homemade food, so that we could cook conveniently and easily and eat well once all hell had broken loose. Well, nine weeks later, to the day, we are coming to an end of that food. That’s not to say we haven’t cheated occasionally and resorted to the odd takeaway.
As part of this we have re-discovered our local traditional Fish ‘n’ Chip shop. It was one I had avoided like the plague after once having a ropey sausage from it one night on the way home from the pub, spending an inordinate amount of time on the toilet the following day. I got a lot of reading done, but I still felt it was a wasted Sunday. However, I noticed recently that new owners had taken it on and in the interests of fairness thought I would give it a second chance. And I’m damn glad I did – the fish they serve there are huge – the last time I saw something this big I was off the coast of Iceland on a whale watching trip. It is also by far the best fish I have had from a chippy. It isn’t cheap, but nor should it be – quality of this magnitude should be remunerated accordingly. It is so good that I have been back two subsequent times in quite quick succession, so much so that the guy working there thought he had a regular on his hands (and to be fair, I haven’t ruled it out) and he asked me my name one evening while I was waiting for my whale and chips to be cooked. Remembering the song, I was about to tell him my name was Elvis but bottled it at the last minute and told him my real name.
I’ve mentioned before how my emotions had changed following the birth and I’d rather hoped it was temporary, but I did find myself blubbing at Car SOS the other night so maybe that isn’t the case. I even felt myself welling up at a repeat of DIY SOS as well last week, so it looks like any TV programme with SOS in the title is off limits for a while yet. As well as that change though, it seems our taste buds have altered; both of us – normally we would go mad for a Chinese takeaway and our usual one makes some divine food. I would reckon on having one about once a month, but since returning from hospital just over eight weeks ago we have had only one about a week ago. And that was because we had been to the chippy about three times since coming home and it was starting to feel far too regular. We both enjoyed it, and so did Arthur and Henry. Well, at least I think they did – the reason I assert this is because when I winded Arthur the next day after a breastfeed, I got a whiff of sweet ‘n’ sour prawns, soft noodles, prawn toast, crispy seaweed and prawn crackers.
In a similar vein, we had a homemade curry out of the freezer the other night. I don’t know why it took a couple of days but today when Arthur filled his nappy, and he did it in spectacular style and aplomb, the smell around him as he did it was very definable as one of the curry house. Before taking the nappy off there was that waft of smell you get when you walk past the front door of such an eatery. Once the nappy was off it was like you were outside the back of the restaurant underneath the extractor fans.
And while I’m on the subject, again (I’m sorry about this, but it fascinates me – the only difference I notice in mine is when I have a blue PowerAde and they come out bright green) why is it that people I keep bumping into while I am out and about keep telling me at various intervals that one or both of the boys are doing a poo face? Twice in the past week someone has said this to me. “Oh look – he’s pulling that face – it’s a poo face; he’s filling a nappy”. Now usually I do go out with a fully equipped changing bag, so I am ready to deal with the consequences and whatever fallout there is, but on both occasions there was nothing. Nappies were empty.
It panicked me somewhat because I thought I was missing out on a parenting instinct. Both of the people involved (women in each case) were convincing in this – they had a knowing way about them, but were utterly wrong. The reason I doubted myself though is because although Mrs Aitchworld can identify each of the boys individually from the sound of their cries, I am still unable to differentiate between them.
We have read somewhere that twins develop at a different rate to “normal” babies, and even more so again if they are born early, which almost all twins are! Someone suggested they are slower, but I will have you know that my boys are geniuses, thank you very much. They also suggested that if they were born three weeks early, they would be three weeks behind, but I don’t subscribe to this because that would mean that when they were three weeks old they were effectively new-born, and there is no way they were that far, erm, behind. The truth is, we will never know. We haven’t been measuring them against any singular-birth baby born on the same day and we don’t intend to start doing so any time soon.
We also haven’t had any time to read any books on child development – all our time has been taken up making sure we keep them alive, so we only vaguely know what should come next in terms of babies recognising us, when they will start smiling, when they might start playing with things… We did find out that for quite a while babies only see in black and white. I didn’t find out how long that “quite a while” was, which is something I must do, because if they are still seeing like that when they are old enough to Ceebeebies, I’m cancelling my colour TV licence and downgrading to a black and white one.
Both of the boys are starting to look around and notice things in the house. We have a lampshade made of cloth in the nursery, with a stuffed car hanging from it. Arthur thinks it’s fancy and gives it a look every time I switch the light on. Henry can’t keep his eyes off it. He seems to have a thing about cars, which he must get from me. I’ve always been into my cars and at one point I had five of them, which is quite a luxury admittedly – when I was growing up my parents only had a car each. There was a time that they only had one car between them. This is why I thought we were poor, growing up. Even now, despite being a bit more sensible about it all and selling off my fleet over the last few years, I couldn’t cope and I still have two cars and Mrs Aitchworld has one of her own. And I can’t help it, I keep looking in the bargain section of Autotrader. (Have you seen how much car you can get for grand these days)? I also have a display case full of models of cars, which Henry has taken a bit of a shine to. I am going to have to work out a way of locking that as he gets a bit more mobile, as they aren’t the sort of model cars I want played with. I have a whole box full of Matchbox/Corgi/Majorette cars from my childhood put away for when that day comes. Play-worn is the description given on eBay for the sort of condition they are in – they certainly aren’t display case material and one aspect of parenthood I am looking forward to is to choosing their cars with them and I can guide them towards good cars rather than bad. Some friends will doubt this, because they know that if an Austin Allegro Equipe came up for sale tomorrow, I would try to convince Mrs Aitchworld that the family savings would be wisely invested in it.
Some of the things friends have given us before they were born for the boys to play with once they were here are now making their way out of boxes. One of these, which is not a toy as such, is a musical swing. I joked with Henry to scream if he wanted to go faster. He did. He will only settle in it if it is on its fastest setting. And then there are the play mats. Early on we had one set out in the nursery for a while and we began to get a little frustrated that every time we laid one of the boys out on it they didn’t really do much. Charlie the cat used it more than Henry the human. We’d quite often find Charlie attacking all the various dangling parts of it and his favourite trick was to slide his paws under the base of it and then try and turn the whole thing over. We ended up taking it down, partly for this reason and partly because the one we had erected was huge and took up far too much floor space.
We have put a different one up now and Arthur loves it, but as yet is only making half-arsed efforts to use it, occasionally swinging an arm. Arthur is very much the relaxed on of the two, and he will do it when he can be arsed. Henry on the other hand wants to do everything now, and is starting to get the hang of it, his arms waving away and his legs kicking out. He is rather uncoordinated as yet, but we are noticing that the more time he spends with it, the more he manages to hit the bits and pieces hanging from the spars. The dangling accoutrements are different on this mat compared to the first one we put up. One of them in particular had a chime inside of it. It is difficult to describe the noise it makes, but if you have ever been into one of those shops that sells hookah pipes, joss sticks and those plaster cast Buddha’s, they always have wind-chimes that sound like the one on this dangler, if that’s even a word. The friends that gave us this particular mat found another set of three of these chimes and let me have them at the weekend. Like a fool I attached them so Henry can swipe the first one with his hands and the set of three he can kick with his feet.
We often hear the chimes at night and after checking the cot to make sure that the boys haven’t become so genius that they have learned in their nine short weeks how to escape the cot, scale the bars and make their way to the nursery to play, we realise that it is Charlie attacking them. Well, at least Mrs Aitchworld does. I rouse from my slumber waiting for the waft of jasmine and patchouli oil coming from the hookah pipe shop to hit, then wake up properly and realise I’m not actually in one of those shops. All I get is the aroma of a Bolognese sauce we had a few nights ago and realise it is time to change a nappy and give another feed.