A few months ago I wrote about getting a new microwave. Well today I killed it. I would love to pretend I got all rock n roll and smashed it up in a fit of pique for bleeping all night and causing a sleep-deprived rage. Alas, it was nothing so grand. All I did was stick a bottle or two in it in the steriliser and while it was doing what it does, I focused on sorting out the rubbish and recycling, taking it all out to the bins at the side of the house. A few minutes later when I got back to the kitchen, I noticed there was a funny smell of burning plastic and I couldn’t quite work out what it might be. Then the microwave beeped and that is when it dawned on me that I might have experienced baby brain and forgotten to put water into the base of the steriliser. The measuring jug on the side with 200ml of water still in it confirmed this notion may have been correct. “How bad can it be?” I pondered. Then something inside the microwave burst into flames.
The last time I encountered something like this was in 1988 when I worked in the local Woolworths. Sometimes, near Christmas when it was particularly busy, we would work on after the store had closed to enable us to do things that we couldn’t while the general public were around. On such occasions, we were treated by the manager, a great man by the name of Iain Hamilton who was very influential in my work ethic, used to treat the staff to an evening meal. Usually it was a chippy tea, but one night the consensus was we were to have jacket spuds. In pride of place in the staff canteen was a shiny new microwave. Back in 1988 very few homes had such a device. Certainly one of the staff members, Sandra didn’t have one in her home, nor had she ever used one but, never the less, she decided she was going to be in charge of preparing the potatoes before cooking them in the staff microwave. What we didn’t know was that Sandra went down to the homewares department and picked up a roll of foil off the shelf. By the time I got into the canteen the firework show going on within the microwave was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen. A couple of the other evening workers came in at this point and we all stood around watching the spectacle unfold. When the glass in the door cracked we decided that we better turn it off. We had a chippy tea and the microwave ended up in the skip out back.
Our microwave, the one I coveted so much when we got it, up until it beeped all night until you attended to it, actually making it more demanding than the twins, is dead. The spindle that turns the glass plate in the bottom was the first thing to catch fire and melt all over the base of the oven. The steriliser had a hole burned right through the middle of the bottom of it. The bottles inside were ruined and when I poured water over it all to extinguish the flames, the glass plate shattered.
Woolworths is long gone, but the building is still there. It’s a B&M Bargains now. Sandra still works there – I saw her the other day and she still remembers me. I’d love it if the skip was still there and I could put this microwave in it, like an act of remembrance. A round trip journey of life, as it were.
I’m in the doghouse over it, of course, not least because the whole house now smells like a plastic recycling facility, but also because the boys have started to eat solid (well, pureed) food rather than just milk, and the microwave was rather handy for warming things up in a matter of seconds. Unless I hand over my wallet to Argos to empty several times over, the soonest I can get a new microwave to the specification I want is Monday afternoon. As I write this, it is Friday evening.
I will apologise in advance at this juncture, because I am about to write, briefly, about poo again. You can try to ignore it all you want, but as a parent, it is always there, lurking in the background. Or the back of the nappy at least. The thing is, and there is no point in beating about the bush here, when solid food goes in, solids tend to come out. It is a major change. In some ways it is good, because they are a lot easier to wipe up – no longer are we encountering ten wipe wipes. On the other hand, the smells are getting worse.
I read somewhere that you get used to the smell of your own children’s defecations. And it turns out it is absolutely true – I can identify the smell of one of ours as easily as I can recognise one of their faces. And on that subject, a while ago I wrote about poo face and not really recognising it because they just slid out effortlessly. Well now we have poo face. There is also the indications of grunting and heavy breathing that notify you that a brown (or green, depending on what you have been feeding them) beast is about to be released. The other day we were wandering round a supermarket and the aroma of a child’s filled nappy wafted through the air. “I think Arthur has had that poo we’ve been waiting for”, Mrs Aitchworld said. “That’s not the smell of one of ours”, I confidently replied. I was right.
The poo we had been waiting for from Arthur was delivered the next day. We had just arrived for a christening, and as we were parking the car up there was lots of grunting and heavy breathing from the rear, helping it on its way. “I’ll sort it”, volunteered Mrs Aitchworld, which I thought was rather brave because it had been a couple of days in the making. We laid Arthur out on a changing mat in the boot of the car and prepared ourselves. Oh. My. Good. God. It was a monster. When the nappy was undone to reveal the full horror I thought an elephant had shat in it. I don’t know why, but I was helpless with laughter. I was doubled up, powerless to help. Arthur, seeing his daddy so happy, thought this was hilarious, laughing along with me, waving his arms about and kicking his legs with excitement. This just made me chortle and guffaw even harder – I really thought I was going to laugh up a lung at one point!
At the recent family wedding I attended I was asked by a young cousin thrice removed, which of the boys was my favourite. That’s easy – it’s Arthur. He looks like me and because of his tongue tie he found it difficult to breastfeed, so I bonded with him as I bottle fed him a lot of the time. Unless he is in full meltdown mode, I know how to stop him crying and make him smile and even laugh. And his laugh, his little chuckle, his sweet, innocent chortle; it quite literally brings tears to my eyes at the most inopportune moments, as I found myself welling up in Costa coffee in Workington when I sang wibble wobble jelly on a plate to him to cheer him up and he started to giggle. But then Henry has exactly the same laugh. He doesn’t do it often because he is so busy grinning like a loon that he forgets he can laugh, but when he does it has the same effect on me. And everything he does is done with one hundred percent commitment and effort. He is a nosy little sod – when we are out and about anywhere, say a Costa for example, he will sit on my knee (or that of Mrs Aitchworld) and his head will be darting from side to side, looking at everyone trying to work them out. Sometimes I think his head might spin off it moves so quickly. He watches other, older children, wondering how he might be able to do what they are doing. In his head, I am sure he can already ride a scooter and kick a ball. His smile is the cutest thing in the world and seems wider than his face at times. He is a little more advanced than Arthur at this stage, interacts with me a little more and generally does more stuff, which is incredibly entertaining. So it’s Henry that’s my favourite…
The truth is it’s an unfair question, because as a parent we aren’t supposed to have a favourite. We are supposed to be neutral and not take sides. I could say that my favourite is whichever of the twins is not crying at any given moment. But they rarely cry and if they do, it is because something is wrong that should be easily remedied – they are either tired, hungry or they have a mammoth shit in their nappy that is making them uncomfortable, although in Arthur’s case he finds even the latter funny. So no, I don’t have a favourite. I couldn’t. Both of them have the ability to make me smile, laugh or become over emotional, even when they are not even with me. I can be driving down the motorway, smiling laughing and with a tear rolling down my cheek, just by thinking about either of them at any given moment.
This happened a lot last week as I went up to Scotland on business and had to spend a couple of nights away from home. The two full nights of sleep seemed like a welcome relief, but they actually spoiled me and the reality of being woken up every day at around 6.30am, regardless of whether it is a work day or a weekend, hit even harder on my return. I did finally get my pint of Guinness that I have coveted for so long. It was delicious and if it gets passed through on my expenses that taste will be even sweeter!
There has been some crying by the boys over the last few days though, despite me just saying they hardly ever did. It isn’t because they missed me, but because they have both had colds. It affected Arthur so badly that if he coughed directly after a feed he would choke and vomit. Last Monday morning we both had two complete changes of clothes each, as he did this twice. On Wednesday I managed to catch a sick in my hand, which was impressive by anyone’s standards, you have to admit. With them now taking on solids (of sorts) we decided to get the some nice warming porridge to eat for breakfast to try and ease them from their colds. When I fetched the packet of Ready Brek out of the cupboard this morning and read the instructions, it told me the easiest and quickest way to make it was in a microwave…