Do I Have to Use a Baby Fork?

So . . . the holiday season is upon us once again. Naturally, that means many different things to different people. I know people who call the season “Capitalistmas,” and in all truth I can see why, although even I find it hard to summon quite that much cynicism on demand. I also know people who ‘do’ the whole Jesus-is-born thing. I know people who steadfastly insist that they’re celebrating Winter Solstice, missing the point, I think, that it makes sod all actual difference. And others, like me, don’t care what they’re celebrating as long as they can eat seven different kinds of cheese in one day and drink brandy before breakfast.

xeno treeBut one of the main things that Christmas means to me is that the writing has to pause. Simply, the kids are around at the times when I usually write. I know, I know, their little voices fill the air with joy and life and laughter. But they do make it bloody hard to think straight as well.

Any parent knows that their kids communicate with them via an in-built priority frequency that cuts through all other voices, environmental noise, even thought itself, and goes straight to the centre of the adult’s brain. In my case, it’s pretty chaotic in there already, and any additional voices really make the clamour unbearable. It stops me dead.

There I am, poised over the laptop with teeth clenched and temples pulsing, caught on the cusp of something . . . if not great, then at least satisfying . . . one of those ethereal, poetic phrases that drift through the mind of a writer from time to time and must be caught swiftly or lost forever, when –

“Dad? Why do I have to use a baby fork?”

I slowly look up as that thought evades my grasp and flutters away into the void like a butterfly of, er, words or whatever. Damn.

“What, darling? What fork?”

“Why do I have to use a baby fork?”

I feel my brow furrow. I check the time on my taskbar. “It’s three hours till lunch, honey.”

“But when it’s lunch, will I have to use a baby fork?”

I look back at the laptop. It’s waiting for me, its little cursor flashing patiently. I look again to my daughter. I’m pretty sure she’s wearing a different outfit from when she went upstairs.

“No, honey, you’re a big girl now. You’re five, right? You didn’t have to use one last time. You haven’t used those baby forks for ages.”

“Oh yeah.” She looks a little mollified, but she’s clearly still waiting for something.

“Er . . .” I say uncertainly. “I can get rid of them if they’re bothering you?”

“No,” she says brightly. “It’s okay.”

“Good,” I say.

And it is good, isn’t it? Somehow, trifling concern or not, I’ve made it better. That’s my job. But that said, I have forgotten what I was bloody writing.

So the kids are home, as of the twenty-first. That’s good – great, in fact – and I’m genuinely looking forward to spending more time with them. We have a pretty busy schedule usually, and compared to the days when I acted as main carer for each of them in turn, I don’t see so much of them any more. I know I’ll get no writing done, and in order to avoid any irritation with that fact, I’m not going to try. It’ll be a real holiday.

So if you’re hoping for some new and disturbing sequence of English words to emerge from my brain and filter into the net like toxic waste into groundwater, then sorry in advance. I’m going to be turning the laptop off, eating seven different kinds of cheese in one day, drinking brandy before breakfast and celebrating Christmas/Capitalistmas/Winter Solstice by actually enjoying myself. Oh, and fielding lots of random questions about why zebras have no hands.

Until next time, have a good one!


Mike Berry.


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