Chapter 10 The Googgie Wooggie years
By Chris Wilson
The following morning starts off well, especially for Sue, as now free of her burden, and partially refreshed after a good night’s sleep, she almost looks forward to the day to come. Not for long for in walks the night duty staff nurse and, cradled in her arms, lie Bob and Sue’s twins. She is looking very tired, and just a little desperate; and for a second Sue wonders why, but all to soon her attention is caught by the appearance of the twins. Now gently placed in her arms she looks at them with a complex mixture of love, anger and dismay.
She instinctively knows that she will love them in time, but the memories and physical effects of yesterday’s births still lie fresh in her mind; and do they really have to be quite so red and wrinkly? In short she has that wonderful feeling of elation at being a new mum, but a slight apprehension of what the future may bring. All she wants now is for Bob to arrive to share both the burden and this moment of joy.
Regrettably for her Bob has been delayed, and a moment later elation is followed by deflation as both of the twins awake and see her for the first time. They look at Sue briefly, after all Mum will be pretty important for a while, but, duty done, they then look for the nearest bar. Alcohol is something they will know nothing of for a few years but, instinctively, they do know about milk bars, and how to use them. So it is they smile, see Sue’s breasts, and like a pair of feeding gannets they dive onto their prey.
Sue just lies there very, very, still.
Her breasts, still sore after all they have been through, are screaming with pain, but there is nothing she can do. Meanwhile the babies carry on slurping happily. Sue, it seems, runs a very good milk bar, and as far as they can tell, with a bit of pumping, she has plenty of milk to spare.
At this happy point Bob appears on the scene, albeit he is still outside the room, and it has to be said that he is not looking quite as fresh as Sue. Partly this is because has been out celebrating the night before, a fact that he hopes to hide from Sue, but of far more concern is the fact that he’s not to sure how he will be received, what the twins will look like, and what on earth he is to do once he arrives. Of greater importance is how Sue feels when; at last, he arrives on the scene.
Deep down she is furious with Bob, as she is not only still resentful of his part in the pregnancy but also fully aware, from past experience, that he has been out for a night on the tiles. As far as she is concerned she has carried the twins for nine months while all he has had to do is to put up with her hunger and occasional bouts of moodiness. Now we know that that is a little unfair, but she has been through hell for the best part of a year, so maybe we should empathise with her a little more. Another part of her though is delighted to see him. She cannot wait to present him with their new family, and in doing so to rest her breasts for a while. The only thing is she still cannot see him, and quite frankly she wants to know why. The reason is actually very simple.
He is outside with the rest of the new fathers, oh, don’t worry, you cannot miss this particular queue. At the head of the queue stands a staff nurse or sister, and behind her, like a flock of demented and demoralised sheep stand the guys. They are all looking scruffy, they are all looking scared, and all carry a desperately concocted bunch of flowers by which they hope to appease their wives. She looks at her watch, it’s time, and their moment has come. She is a mother herself so after opening the doors she slowly turns to face them, then with a grim smile she ushers them inside. She knows what is coming and therefore she can relive the moment, and the pleasure, over and over again.
So it is that, at last Bob sees the twins. When he first sees them they are still at their mothers breast. She is looking down at the twins and, caught by the early morning sun he thinks, and knows, that all three are beautiful. The sight makes the last nine months worthwhile, and he looks forward to being with them back in the family home. Then Sue looks up and sees him, she smiles, and, adjusting the babies, she shows him the twins. For a brief moment the twins look at him with interest, but only briefly. His milk bar seems far inferior to hers so they turn once more towards Sue. Bob starts laughing and Sue soon joins in. Their future now lies before them. It will be a tough future but one worth fighting for, but for several years now they know they will never be alone
Very soon the laughter stops though for soon, all too soon for Sue’s liking, they find themselves back at home, and for all four of them a new and very different chapter of life begins.
As Bob ushers Sue and the twins into the house, he has reason to feel both confident and happy. Secretly he always wanted to be a dad, and though create one get one fee was not really part of the equation, it does at least spare Sue the pain of a second pregnancy. Additionally all the preparations for the new family have been quietly done, so now all is ready for their new life to come. There is a small but significant problem though. As he opens the door two people stand before him;
Radek and more importantly Lida have come to stay. Unbeknown to Bob, and Bob alone, the arrangements for their encampment had been in place ever since Bob and Sue had been informed of the twins. Over the next few weeks both Bob and Sue have good reason to thank Lida and Radek for their assistance, but initially Bob is very annoyed with everybody, as all of his plans now lie in disarray.
What is even more annoying though is how he rapidly finds himself relegated to almost the lowest of the low.
Before the twins were born he felt he was a real and integral part of the pregnancy equation, and all the antenatal, and postnatal professionals assured him that both before and after birth he had an important, if not critical role, to play. The trouble was that, as Bob soon found out, the female professionals were just lying in order to keep him in attendance and under control, while the male medics were trying to spare him the almost inevitable pain.
What Bob soon realises, that he has gone from being part of a double header express train, to being a rusty old diesel loco that is dragging an over large and very pungent sewage and waste disposal container. He is sometimes allowed on to the same track as the express, but only when it suits the new drivers of that train, and only to clear up the detritus that it leaves behind. There are of course special days, even for third rate locomotives like Bob, and these are the days when he is allowed to hold and converse with the occupants of the express train, and for Bob these are special moments indeed. So it is that Sue and Lida take charge of the twins leaving Bob and Sue out in the cold, only allowing him onto the baby express in order to briefly hold the babies, change nappies, clear up vomit, and to graciously accept in person whatever the twins wish to throw around.
Generally this is limited to toys and fresh lower abdominal excretions, but, if he is lucky, really lucky, food gets thrown around, or dribbled, as well. Is he alone in his predicament, of course not as Radek is there as well. He is an old hand at this game, he knows exactly what to do. His job, as was carefully explained by Lida, is to keep Bob out of her and Sue’s hair. He is to delicately pull Bob to one side, so Lida and Sue can do the real jobs of baby-sitting, and baby rearing. He does this very successfully, so it would seem that everybody should be happy, but remember, there are two others on the scene; how are the two ladies coping under the strain.
Sue and Lida are both frantically busy. Sue is wondering just what the joys of looking after babies really are, while Lida is simply trying to keep Sue and the twins both sane and alive. There is also a degree of friction between the two mothers, as though both agree that mother knows best, neither of them quite agree which of the two mothers has the natural right to both be in charge and be in the know. Sue appreciates the help that is being given, and some, if not all, the advice that inevitably comes as part of the deal, but feels that Lida can, as ever, be a little interfering, and that her advice sometimes belongs to a bygone age.
Sue wryly terms this age as being the age of “when you were a baby and I was your mum”, and finds it just a little irritating. She wishes that Lida would stop harping on about the good old days of real baby food, indispensable baby care tips, and reusable nappies, and accept modern baby care techniques, pre pulsed baby foods and, above all else, nappies that can be instantly thrown away.
Lida of course is equally annoyed with Sue, who she regards as being an unequivocally ungrateful little mare. She knows just how hard Sue is trying, but she will not listen to her mother’s voice of experience, and as regards her wasteful expenditure. Well that simply has to be seen to be believed. She shrugs her shoulders though and keeps on going, hoping that, eventually, the tide will turn.
The mothers of today, she internally murmurs, don’t know what motherhood means; quite simply they don’t know that they have been born. Sue is aware of how Lida feels, as any daughter is equally aware, but not only does she appreciates that she has been born, as her mother is tut tutting beside her, but she also understands what modern motherhood entails. Never mind they do have a common enemy, and that is their respective spouse, of course.
As far as the two women are concerned Bob and Radek are doing absolutely nothing as regards caring for the twins, or for Sue and Lida of course, and the frustrating thing is that no manner of hints as regards this problem seems to be getting through. The two mothers appreciate that, by their own evaluation, the two men have no idea about raising the twins, or about life in general of course. If cornered they might even admit to having ordered Bob and Radek to vacate the premises, and to leave the two women and the twins alone, but in both instances the two men really should try harder to help and understand.
Bob and Radek fully understand what is going through the minds of Lida and Sue, but find themselves in an impossible position. Damned if they do, and damned if they don’t they feel, and know, that their entry into hell’s gate has been confirmed already so there is very little that they can do.
Mercifully, all such trials and tribulations eventually come to an end, and there comes a time, in any relationship, when the newest and brightest addition to the human race is unleashed onto the outside world. This is where the Googgie Wooggie days go external, and where a new, intricate, and yet very serious game begins. That’s right, it’s time to show of the little infant Emanuel, and it’s time for the baby, or the babies concerned to see, and control, the outside world.
Introducing a newborn baby to the outside world is akin to throwing a large, and possibly still hot, volcanic boulder into a perfectly still deep lake that somebody else has meticulously prepared and maintained for years. One minute everything is calm and serene, and then with a rumble and a crash all hell breaks loose, and a major wave, followed by several waves or ripples starts to spread out from the point of impact. Each ring has an identity and a power of its own, so let us start from the outer ring, and then head towards the centre. If we do this what do we see.
In the very outer, and weaker ring, stand the men, in this case Bob and Radek. They have very little to do, and they know it, so apart from being acquiescing beasts of burden, they have only the minor roles of being there for anatomical comparison, making their wives and mother in laws look good, and both endure and swallow the perceived garbage that seems to verbally cover them from head to toe.
Moving towards the next circle we find Lida who, acting out the role of the archetypal mother in law, feel very proud in her role, but just a little miffed that Mother and child seem to be both younger and getting more attention than herself. Then the wave now grows higher, as now we enter Sue’s domain.
She knows that she has enormous power as a new mum to begin with, but just as she has doubled up on babies, she has also doubled up on her power. All around her other rings from other babies are also expanding, and Sue as any protective mother is watching them with extreme care.
At the centre of each lies a newborn baby, and that baby could be a threat to her own child. However social niceties still have to be maintained, so though each and every Mum wants to disembowel every other baby within a thousand miles, they all crowd around each other prams, and happily converse with whatever or whomever may lie within.
This is where we find our happy family now, and though Bob and Radek would happily leave Sue and Lida to get on with things by themselves, they dutifully hang around the fringes of this new intermingling wave and ripple pattern along with all the other dads who, of course, are feeling exactly the same. Meanwhile Sue and Lida are having a ball of a time.
Sue is of course supremely confident due to the fact that has borne twins, unlike all of the other far less fertile mums around her, and Lida is secure in the fact that Sue would not have even been born if it were not for her, and that she must have been very superior mother, as otherwise how would Sue have had twins. At the very centre of course lies the baby, and we shall come to the little darling shortly, but regardless of the power plays, and there can be many variations on such a theme, a familiar theme or song soon begins to emerge. All the mums, happy as can be, worship at this new baby, and at this new altar, and then after a quick anatomical check and comparison to one or both parents present, the baby talk begins.
This is where the reaction of men and women go shooting off in directly opposite ways, as for the men there is nothing as pointless and repulsive as baby talk, while the women cannot understand the men’s point of view in any shape or form. What is pointless for men is deeply meaningful to brand new mums, and seemingly to most women in general, and as regards the language itself, why it has harmony and exquisite balance all of its own. Thus it is essential to prattle like an imbecile when greeting a new born baby. It is vital that you make unnatural noises down its ear, and as regards it appearance, of course it has it’s father’s nose or it’s mother’s eyes.
In Sue’s case one jealous mum hinted at the potential size of one of the twins anatomy, stating that, she could see that certain other attributes had also been passed on, but Lida’s umbrella carefully stabbed into her ankles, soon put paid to such inappropriate views. So there we have our happy little scene where, at its centre we still find the twins; what is their take on what is going on?
We all like to think of babies as being sweet little innocent cherubs who, powerless in their newborn state, look up at us both helplessly and adoringly as we protect and support them so that they might enjoy their years to come. This is a pretty vision, and one which painters, poets, and service providers have enriched and promulgated for years, yet how true does this turn out to be?
Sure babies are in several senses restricted as to what they can do, but then, at that their age, and with their level of cuteness, is that really such a handicap? Ask them to re-enact the complete works of William Shakespeare, or run the four minute mile, and failure would obviously occur, but why should they need to perform such tricks when through the application of their inner natural power they can hold all and sundry in the palm of their podgy, if absolutely charming, little hands?
While it is true that both they behave in the way mother nature intended, and that therefore they have little or no choice but to do otherwise, is it not also true that they are, by nature, manipulative, cunning, little control freaks. They may be cute, especially within the female eye, and absolutely adorable in the process as well, but if we step outside of such a cosy little dream do we not see the babies, and their parents as they really are? This might sound harsh, but if we look at a couple of examples, a slightly softer judgement seems to occur.
The first thing the baby needs is food, and it is generally pretty good at getting what it needs. The first person to cop it is often mum. Not all mums can breast feed, natures a cruel madam at times, but as we have already seen most babies like their milk bars to free flowing, readily accessible, and rich and warm by nature. The fact that the milk bar operative and the supplier gets knackered and at times, or even worse, as dry as a bone, is of little of no consequence, as one assertive nibble, or a good old fashioned scream generally resumes the flow. Then, much to the babies’ annoyance the milk bar closes down, and a new food arrives on the scene.
At this point we go back to Bob and Sue, it’s feeding time for the twins and out comes the carefully prepared and intricately balanced jars of baby food, or as Bob scathingly terms them, the repulsive little jars of goo. By now Sue has stopped breastfeeding, much to the annoyance and stubborn resistance of the twins, and in doing so she has now demanded that Bob should get more involved. This is the news that Bob has been dreading, yet the twins and Sue have been looking forward to for a long time. Sue wants revenge for all the battering her breasts have received, and as regards the twins endless play opportunities seem to emerge.
Let’s get one thing straight, as regards food that we dislike but have to eat, we all, want to do one thing. We all want to either push the food away or, given half a chance, hurl the crud straight back at the person who is insisting we eat the wretched thing. Sometimes we actually do such this, but not for long as soon we are expected to behave. The rules for babies though are different. For such a group within our society anything goes, and boy oh boy do they have fun.
For an adult who is feeding a child the rules of engagement at feeding time are technically very simple. You procure then prepare certain foodstuffs at just the right temperature that your baby will, enjoy. You then present the food to your baby, who readily eats what you have provided and, hey presto, the job is done. The baby thinks very differently though, and follows a very different set of rules.
To begin with feeding time has nothing whatsoever to do with the intake of food. That is of course an additional benefit that, upon inclination, may be enjoyed to the full, but the real purpose of such operation is to have fun.
As a baby you refuse to open your lips when the milk bottle is pointed towards you, or when the loaded spoon floats by, If you do decide to eat it is imperative that some, if not all, the food is then slowly disgorged, so that it dribbles, remorselessly, down either chin. Then of course comes the glorious day when they let you get hold of the spoon.
Where the baby decides to deposit the contents of the spoon is of course a matter of personal taste and instinctive accuracy, but as Bob soon finds out, any new dad automatically becomes a prime target. Imagine his joy then as he attempts to feed two at once. Looking back on the feeding times, once he has got himself cleaned up, Bob can think of far happier times that he has enjoyed.
To begin with, both twins view what he offers as war paint, and within seconds their face, hands, and clothes are smothered in food. After a night on the tiles he is feeling just a fraction fragile, so this is not a good omen, as it brings back too many recent memories, and because they seem to be preparing for a battle to come. Then after they refuse to eat he makes a fatal mistake he gives them a loaded spoon of food and plenty of rusks to hold. Perhaps if he had only been feeding one child he might have escaped the pea and carrot puree across both eyes, or the rice pudding which sets solid within his ears, but remember he was feeding twins so in addition half chewed rusks also liberally lay sprinkled within his hair. Where was Sue during this show, why she was looking on and laughing of course, like the babies she was having a wonderful time.
No feeding time lasts forever though, not even when you are feeding, or attempting to feed twins; so now we turn to what happens when the digested food comes out of two holes at the other end. It’s nappy time folks, and it’s time to change those wonderful items which all of us so enjoy. We all know that when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and we try to accept such a fact, especially at both ends of our lives, but when we are changing a baby’s nappy four thoughts almost inevitably cross our mind.
First we wonder what the baby has been eating, secondly we question how so much waste has been produced. Then we wonder where and how, so much detritus has been stored and finally we are stunned at how it can, at times, look and smell so bad. The theory of nappy changing is of course very simple. This duty, shared by both happy and smiling parents, involves the swift and easy changing of a reusable or disposable cloth nappy within which natural soiling has occurred. During such an operation the lightly gurgling baby lies gently on its back, the offending nappy is removed, and after a easy clean up operation often involving cleansing wipes, powder, and zinc cream, a new nappy is fitted and everything carries on as normal. Once more though theory has little to do with reality, as Bob and Sue will readily confirm.
Unlike some parents that they perceived to still be in the Stone Age, they began the operation of nappy changing in a very calm and democratic way. They talked about the equal division of labour, they studied the principles behind such an operation very carefully, so when the task actually came to bare they felt very confident as regards what they had to do, and who was going to carry it through. At first there was no problem, as the discharge was clear and of a fluid nature so, though an towel was needed, no harm was done. They even managed the brown nappy, although a strained silence hung in the air, and they found themselves holding their breath for as long as possible.
But then came the slimy green one, and that is when their problems began.
The first thing they noticed was a deep repulsive smell which crawled into every corner of the room, and then they saw the ecstatic and positively beatific smile on one of the baby’s face. By that smile they instinctively knew that their day of judgement had come. Then, of course, came the almost inevitable question of who was going to do the honours. Sue knew it was her turn, but gleefully declaring that it was her time of the month, she simply walked away; thus leaving Bob, his thoughts, and the baby alone.
Looking at the baby he felt very aggrieved. He had spent a long tine getting just the right nappy that Sue had demanded, he had changed the previous nappy, and Sue had cried of a change two weeks ago for precisely the same reason as now. Not only that the little madam, for the baby was a girl, just sat there grinning at him, as though a great feat had just been achieved. There was a job to be done however, so after taking a deep breath, he knelt down, and began to make the change.
If there are three things that any self respecting baby knows it is that you should wriggle around as much as possible during such a operation so as to make the procedure as difficult as you can, that any product you have released should severely impact upon the nappy changer, and that, if possible, a clean nappy should be rendered useless as soon as possible. By following such rules nappy changing becomes a game, and a game that everybody can enjoy.
Poor Bob got the lot, as did Sue ten minutes later. She had of course been listening, and laughing, just outside the door, but when she walked into the room her smile faded, for she could see Bob was very annoyed. He was infuriated by her treachery, so he got up, crossed over to her, and dropped the unsealed nappy in her comfortably crossed arms
“It’s your turn, and now your nappy, have a nice day”
Bob stomped of to the bathroom, leaving Sue still, shocked, stinking, and standing all- alone. Suddenly, for both of them, parenting had become rather serious, and Sue found out that changing a nappy, and laughing at Bob, wasn’t so funny, or so smart, after all.
So it is that Bob and Sue careered headlong into the long established immovable and indestructible wall of babyhood. Was this the last of their trials and tribulations, certainly not? They endured the seemingly endless sleepless nights sleep as both twins woke up at two, three, and four o’clock in the morning, and they both paid for replacement baby monitors which, out of frustration, ended up in pieces beside the skirting board. It was good training though for their next challenge, as such testing times brought the together as the years began to roll by. Now it is time to leave them once more, as they should be left alone to enjoy their children’s early years. Soon, too soon, they will have further storms to face, but now we leave them as they laugh and play with their children. Initially known as the formative or bonding years, and then for a few years afterwards, these will be good times for the whole family, but they are for the family and for the family alone. We are now going to move on a few years, about thirteen years to be precise, in our continuing story, and explore the world of teenagers and their long suffering parents; and what a wonderful world this turns out to be.