Thursday, 13 September 2012


Tho and I were in the kitchen, picking over the last of the roasted chicken and trying to decide how many of the bananas that were ripening too fast we should eat. Madeline was in the bedroom, gurgling to herself on her playmat to the accompaniment of squeaks and bangs as she batted the brightly coloured toys about. I convinced Tho that a milkshake was the way to go as we’d also be able to polish off the last of the milk. She was always worrying about lack of calcium, but we ate plenty of cheese, surely that was good enough? Breastfeeding a baby means you have to eat properly, but the issue is complicated by random bullshit “advice” that good-natured Vietnamese friends and family provide. For example, nothing boosts the mothers milk production like eating dogs legs. Old wive’s tales seem hideously suspect when they’re part of someone else’s culture.

This time it would be a real milkshake, just like my brother and I made when we were little tackers... earlier in the week I’d gone shopping for cooking supplies. Bananas, chocolate, ice-cream, honey and the secret ingredient - food colouring. I shielded the blender from Tho’s sight with my body, but I needn’t have bothered. She had taken the opportunity to take yet more pictures of Madeline. At this rate, we’ll be buying another terrabyte harddrive, as we’re fast running out of space.

The purple concoction slopped into the mugs (I only splashed a little on the bench, next to some spilled milk, but that’s nothing to cry about) and I sat at the table proud of the hue I had achieved. Tho wasn’t as nonplussed as I’d expected - a byproduct of the photoshoot I guess. We started discussing where to go for the next holidays. Then we heard it. Something that every new parent dreads... often with no good reason. An unnatural silence. She’s probably just fallen asleep we said, yet into the bedroom we ran, eyes frantic.

Madeline wasn’t asleep, but had industriously squirmed across the floor, and was busily chewing on the ear of Rainbow Bear. Time for another photoshoot my wife declared, as we laughed along with our little darling.

This piece is in response to Tobias Mastgrave’s story challenge of the week of unnatural silence. Hardly fiction, though Madeline isn’t able to crawl any distance yet (and I haven’t made a proper milkshake, but I will the next time we have one). Someone had also suggested writing a story with our daughter in it. A good idea, as normally my writing isn’t so grounded in reality. For the record, I didn't make up the bit about dog legs, my sister-in-law was knocking off a couple a day when her baby was born. Plus I wanted something that wasn’t too dark and foreboding as the picture that goes along with the prompt isn't too cheerful. I know our life isn’t all that enthralling to outsiders, but to us, it’s pretty damn good.

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