I’ve Got My Spine, I’ve Got My Orange Stain…

Before the twins were born, we didn’t watch much in the way of telly. Since the twins came along I can probably count on one hand the number of times we have sat down to watch something on an actual television. We’ve occasionally had a catch up application on an iPad playing something while we have a bite to eat, but even then it has been rare to watch an entire programme in one sitting. With the boys becoming more aware every day though, it was only a matter of time before cBeebies was tried on them. I recently told someone that swearing was an indication of a limited vocabulary and I promise I have searched my word cupboard thoroughly and extensively, but the only ones I can put together to come up with a phrase to describe the limited amount of cBeebies coverage that I’ve thus far seen results in “it’s all absolute bollocks”. I’ve never taken mind altering drugs, but I imagine that night garden programme to be the result of a really bad acid trip from the 1970s. The scales of all the models and characters are all wrong and the CGI is terrible. I’ve never done computer graphics either, but I’m fairly sure I could do better. Away from the drug garden, Mr Tumble looks like he is still having his acid trip and is taking the rest of us along with him for the ride. I’ve only ever caught a few snippets of cBeebies, as by the time home from work it is closing down. Mrs Aitchworld tells me there is something called Waybollocks (I may have misheard) that is equally woeful, but the boys actually like it. I should be thankful by all accounts, but from what I have seen I am still totally clueless as to what is going on in any of it.

Other parents tell me that it captivates children and it is a great thing, but I’m not so sure. This evening when I arrived home Mrs Aitchworld ran away to be an adult again for an hour or so instead of a parent and left me to look after Arthur and Henry. They were sitting in their Bumbos, playing with various toys with the night garden bollocks bollocksing away in the background. Maggle Pickles was going to bed and Igga Pigga was riding a plastic watering can or something and the boys could have given less of a shit if they tried. Even when the bedtime story was being read, which incidentally was not a patch on Jackanory (although it has to be said Floella Benjamin doesn’t look a day older than she did when I was a child – where is this fountain from which she drinks?) the boys barely looked at the telly and were more interested in their toys.

The channel shut down and I flicked over to BBC3 which was showing an elderly episode of Top Gear where they were testing the then current crop of hot hatches. Captivation was instant. All toys were dropped. Silence reigned. The paternal gene is strong here. I was slightly disappointed when Arthur expressed excitement at a Renault and then a Peugeot, but Henry, as he should with a name like that, was all about the Ford. That’s my boy!

There was a campaign recently to save cBeebies from the axe, as it was rumoured that budget cuts were putting it under threat. Good. I won’t be signing any petition to save it. Good riddance as far as I’m concerned. From the boys’ point of view, they would be happy with the channel Dave on a constant loop of old Top Gears. I have considered deleting cBeebies from the TV channel list on Freeview and if it doesn’t get the chop, I still might, and re-tune that channel to Dave or Dave Plus One but without changing the channel labels.

I don’t recall the television of my childhood being this bad. Of course, we only had three channels back then (and only two in our house as ITV was frowned upon for being too common. Mother and Father Aitchworld didn’t get angry if we watched it, but you could sense their disappointment) rather than hordes of them geared up solely towards children, and whatever output was aimed at children was for a couple of hours per day maximum either late in the afternoon or on a Saturday morning. Everything either had a good solid storyline or was educational. With this in mind, it is good to see things like the Clangers and Danger Mouse being re-made. Okay, so they aren’t educational, but they contain great stories that seven month old twin boys can really get their teeth into…

I’m baffled by the whole teething thing. I’ve tried to Google it but all roads lead to mumsnet or netmums and that never ends well. Although they haven’t yet produced any actual evidence of a tooth, both Henry and Arthur have had the red cheeks, the excessive dribbling and we even got to the several poos in a day stage (which I was convinced would see them revert to their birth weight), all of which I am given to believe are signs of teething. They don’t seem bothered about it though and both Arthur and Henry have started to sleep right through. We’ve been fairly lucky in this respect and almost as soon as we put the boys in their own room the routine we had built up meant that they always slept pretty well, but they did still wake up now and again throughout the night. It is a hot topic amongst new parents, almost as if it is a measure of your parenting skills and there will always be some smug smartarse within any parenting social group who will claim their progeny started sleeping for 12 hours straight through from birth. I don’t believe it for a second – I’m sure the parents either had a good dose of alcohol or they took sleeping tablets every night, and turned off the monitor. Or they drugged their children every night. Or they are just liars. Our two have got there eventually taking a good solid six months or so, and I’m hoping that when they do start teething properly, it won’t affect them too badly in the sleep department.

In the meantime, they’re putting those gums to good use and feeding on actual food, as opposed to just milk, very well. I’m quite partial to a nice cold glass of milk, so I was quite surprised when I tasted formula when I was making it up once. We use very little formula, but there are occasions when we need to. There is a vague milk taste to it, but there are also overtones of diesel and high notes of used gearbox oil. This shouldn’t really have surprised me, given that it costs more than the diesel it tastes like.

It’s a messy business though, this feeding. We are doing a mixture of baby led weaning, giving them their own food to play with, some of which actually finds its way into the mouths of babes, but most of it subsequently comes out of them and ends up on the floor. The cats can’t wait for them to progress from bread based products and fingers of vegetables onto meat based products. Dave in particular, loves human food rather than cat food. He’s had the chicken off my pizza before now when I inadvertently left a slice within reach. He’s hanging around on high alert every time we put the boys in their high chairs. You can sense the disappointment in his little catty face every time he sniffs a carrot stick and realises it isn’t a slice of steak.

Of the food we are feeding to them by spoon (which reminds me, I still haven’t dug out the spoons that are shaped like ‘planes); we have mainly been blending small portions of meals that we are eating and feeding it to Arthur and Henry. This was going really well until we gave them a chilli. I’m not a big fan of food that hurts when you eat it, so our chilli is usually made to be on the mild side but even so, we blended it with some yoghurt to take the heat off. It wasn’t enough – the boys hated it. We had to open an emergency pouch.

What do they put in these pouches and pots of baby food that stains everything the food come into contact with orange? Is it the same stuff they make fake tan from? By the time the boys finish a meal that we have bought rather than made, everything is orange. And I do mean everything, from the plastic spoons we feed them with, through the bowl, past the bibs (even the silicone pelican bibs we sometimes use) and to the boys themselves. When we put the new flooring down when we finally get round to doing the next stage of the kitchen we are terrified any convenience baby food is going to stain it. We virtually have to scrub the boys down with a Brillo pad and a wire brush to get the orange colour from them. When it is round their mouths it makes them look like those two leprechauns that used to appear on Live & Kicking; you know, that Saturday morning kids’ TV programme from back when telly was good.

It has amused me that some foods that go in, come out looking exactly the same. I had heard that sweetcorn does this. It is one of my favourite vegetables after chips so we eat a lot of it in Aitchworld Towers. Occasionally we get a backed up sewerage pipe and it has to be cleared and whenever this happens there is a lot of sweetcorn pieces that are released when the blockage is removed and the backup is released. I’ve not studied them in great detail, but I’m fairly certain that I chew the pieces of sweetcorn, but they always look whole. We tried the boys on sweetcorn the other day and when I changed a nappy there was a perfectly formed piece of sweetcorn in one of them. Maybe it is like mercury and it re-forms when the individual chewed up pieces flow into one another.

Something odd struck me the other day – you never smell your own burps, so it somewhat amused me that when we give the evening milk feed to the boys before bedtime, when we wind them their burps smell like whatever they had for their tea (or dinner, if you’re posh). I never realised this. If I miss tea-time (or dinner-time, for the posh readers amongst you) because of getting in late from work then I play a guessing game of “what did the boys have for tea” based on the smell of their burps. I got curry the other night, but failed to recognise chicken and sweetcorn (until I changed a nappy later, that is).

They can be messy eaters though. We have bibs for them now that are like a painter’s smock and cover their arms and most of their clothes. Of course they manage to find a way of getting the food between bib and garment nearly every mealtime. And having pondered if for months, I finally found out why some baby-grows have pockets on them – it is for the boys to store crumbs and bits of crumpet and pancake in to snack on later in the day.

We got a bit behind on the washing last week – everything got so orange so quickly that the basket filled and we pretty much ran out of baby-grows for Henry. Although the same height, the boys are quite different in weight and Henry is now in 6-9 month baby-grows and Arthur can still get in to 3-6 month ones. If we’d have run out of clean small ones it wouldn’t have been a problem and Arthur could wear a bigger one, but we can’t get Henry in the smaller ones any more. We have boxes of clothes for all ages up to (and beyond in a few cases) 2 years old that have been generously given to us by friends. We trawled the boxes once we realised we had no suitable clean baby-grows, looking for a suitably sized baby grow. At last, roguely placed in an 18-month old box, we found something in the correct size. Unfortunately, it was Christmas-wear, in bright red, brightly adorned with Santa Claus all over it. We are in October. Still, at least the orange stains won’t show up on it!

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