All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, Arthur and Henry are starting to get things. I don’t mean they will rise to their feet and get me a pint of Guinness or anything so grand, but they are starting to understand things. Arthur for a while has been able to high five but it has been a bit hit and miss, and more miss than hit, if truth be told. There have been a few occasions when I have been on the receiving end of a high five to the face from Arthur. Either he didn’t understand the concept, or Mrs Aitchworld has been training him. However, in the last week every high five is bang on target.
They are starting to use words too. When either of the cats come into the room, Henry in particular, but Arthur will do it too, points to Charlie or Dave and says “Da”. At first I wondered if they were getting their parentage confused and they were trying to say “Dad”, but we soon worked out that it is their way of saying cat. It is also their way of saying Mum and fish too, but if you listen closely enough there are minor differentiations within the way they say the words. With fish, there is also the action of opening and closing their mouths, in the way that fish do, to accompany the word.
They also understand some of the stories I read to them at bedtime. There is one that is all about zoo animals, the plot being that the writer wants a new pet and asks a zoo to send the one. They start by sending an elephant and works through varying unsuitable animals to be housed as pets. It ends with the zoo sending the reader a dog (it was a Shih Tzu). Along the way of the story this evening, Henry was growling like a bear and roaring like a lion and ooh-ooh-aahing like a chimpanzee, while Arthur hissed like a snake and spat like a camel. None of the household knows what noise a giraffe makes, so I rather let the side down when we came to the giraffe department of the zoo. I might have to google a you tube recording of that one.
While I am on the subject of zoo animals, I was intrigued the other day when I noticed the stuffed Panda that Arthur likes to play with has a short stumpy tail. It occurred to me that whenever you see a Panda in a zoo or on television, it is usually sat on it’s arse eating bamboo shoots. I have no idea whether Pandas actually have a tail or not. I decided that I would google that one and as soon as I had typed “Do Pandas Ha…” the rest of the sentence was filled in for me and it is the top question asked about Pandas on Google.
Until now, Henry had pretty much singular vocabulary. It was babababababa ba ba bababa bababababaabaabaaa. Truth be told, he sounded like the Pearl & Dean music, only without the melody. Every day though, there is a new noise, a new understanding. When he is tidying away his toys (yes he clears up after himself; they both do) he sings the clean-up song from Baby Boogie that is played when all the instruments and props get cleared away. It sounds very similar to his nee-naw fire engine noise, but is subtly different. If I sing “Flash” it is soon followed by an “Aaah aaaaaaaaah”. If I ask him if he wants to go to rehab, he shakes his head as I sing “No, no, no”.
In some ways he has overtaken Arthur. He seemed to be getting things before Henry did, but he has reached a plateau. Henry has mastered standing up now; he is the stronger, sturdier of the two, but Arthur is still working on it and I think this is taking all his concentration. He can manage to stand up in the bath, the last place we really want him to be standing, but elsewhere he can’t quite manage it. And instead of developing his language skills, he seems to be honing his Pob impression by blowing raspberries.
Henry is weeks, if not days away from mastering walking. I might get that pint of Guinness brought to me sooner than I think. Mind you, if he carries drinks in the same way he tries to eat his food, most of it will end up on the floor. When Arthur manages to walk too, it is going to be interesting, chasing after whichever one of them is in most danger. I think reins are definitely in order.
Until now I had been baffled by the need for baby shoes. We have boxes full of them given to us from friends, ranging from simple slip-ons to Converse boots. All of them untroubled by wear or walking.
This development, when it happens, will be a milestone, I know. It will mean finally we can walk down the path to nursery, instead of me running down it carrying one of the boys, throwing him into the arms of one of the nursery staff while I run back to the car to fetch the other one. Invariably one of two things will have happened in the 30 seconds it takes to do this. The first is that the car alarm will be going off and Henry will be in there making nee-naw noises and joining in. The second is that a crowd of people have gathered around the car, looking at the abandoned baby left in a car on a hot day with the window only cracked open slightly, trying to get through to social services.
This happened to me the other day in the supermarket car park – I’d only walked across the car park and back to get a trolley and someone was waiting by the car getting all hot and bothered I’d left the boys in there. I wanted to tell them they had only been in there for an hour, pointed out the window was open a crack and said there was water in the front if the boys needed it, but I think they saw my “sod off and stop interfering” face and made a hasty retreat before I could lay into them. It is a problem that is exclusive to parents with twins (or triplets, quadruplets etc.) – when neither of them can walk, it isn’t like you can carry both at once.
I did worry though, the other day, I might not be around to see these major milestones. You see, while I was in the shower, washing myself, I found a lump. Down there. On my gentleman vegetables.
This could only mean one thing – I’d caught cancer and the end of my life was very obviously nigh. At least I have Critical Illness cover, so at least I could get a couple of decent cars with the pay-out to enjoy up until my inevitable demise.
When I mentioned this to Mrs Aitchworld, she didn’t show any concern but merely asked which one. It’s not like I name my bollocks; one isn’t Bert and the other Ernie. I can’t identify whether Arthur came out of one and Henry the other. I thought this rather an odd question. Maybe she was concentrating on the life insurance pay-out further down the line, and may also have been a little perturbed that I was planning to blow the Critical Illness pay-out on new toys for me instead of the boys.
Now us men are a bit crap in going to the doctor about these sorts of things, especially if your doctor is of the attractive female variety. Mine is of this variety, sort of… I don’t think I have once seen her smile and on reflection, permanently having a face wearing an expression like someone has just shat in your Cocopops isn’t all that attractive. In fairness I rarely see her at all; I’ve been to our surgery more times since the boys have been born than in the preceding twenty years and even then I try to avoid it like the plague.
However, I went across to the surgery so my doctor could cop a feel. She asked if I wanted a chaperone for the examination. I don’t know why; this is the doctor that examined me for haemorrhoids once with an inspection so thorough and all-encompassing that I could tell she hadn’t removed her watch. A quick rub of a knacker between thumb and forefinger seemed quite tame by comparison.
The doctor with the upside down mouth agreed that there was definitely a lump there. She didn’t show any concern either, explaining I was at the latter end of the age range for catching cancer of the bollocks (I’ve paraphrased slightly) and that it was unlikely. Just to be sure though, I was despatched for an ultrasound scan of the tackle.
There was a gap of about a week between initial consultation and ultrasound scan. It was a long week, spent largely with my hand stuffed down my pants for all the wrong reasons, if indeed there are even right reasons for having a continual hand on things down there.
When I arrived for the scan, a procedure I am au fait with because we had so many when we were expecting Arthur and Henry, I was a little early, so I had a nose around the machine that was about to reveal my fate. I noticed that there were settings on it for the area of the body that was to be scanned. I recall there were “Maternity” and “Limbs” settings and a few more that now escape me. I used to have a photographic memory and would have been able to recite all five settings after a mere glance, but these days it comes back with Quality Control stickers on it. I read through the settings and got to the third one, highlighted on screen as it was obviously the one that was to be used for me and I took offence. It simply read “Small Parts”.
I was screened off behind a curtain and invited to strip from the waist down. Did that include my socks? I took them off anyway just in case; I’m sure it wasn’t strictly necessary but it was all a bit vague, instruction wise. I was to lie down with a large piece of paper towel covering my man bits and the ultrasound machine operating nurse would rummage around underneath it with the scanner to see what’s what. She asked me to pull my penis up towards my chest. My chest? Make your mind up love, a moment ago it was categorised as small parts. It’s never going to reach my chest, even if it hasn’t been as cold out recently.
Apparently the doctor was correct in her assertion that I am too old for bollock cancer. According to the nurse viewing my knackers in wide-screen, high definition ultrasound, the lump I found was, apparently, calcified matter; something akin to tonsil stones but in the wrong place. Maybe I need to cancel that order for the new cars – I don’t think calcified matter counts as a critical illness.