So. My friends had a baby. This is a good thing. It appears to be a good baby too – which is even better.
I’ve met him. To me, his name is Flapjack. Mostly, I have no idea what to do with children. I am also aware that they are showered with “stuff” from the get-go.
As a child, my world was filled with stories. It still is today and this represents some of the greatest explorations, adventures, lives, loves and inspirations all encompassed in a tale that is told or written down. Audio books have also been a part of my reading all of my life. The phrases “Turn the page when you hear the chime”, and “You can read along with me in your book” fill me with nostalgia. You can read along with us on these pages if you like.
So instead of buying more stuff (though I tried that too, I have no idea if Flapjack really got much out of it, I know I was a little confused and slightly unfulfilled by the process of trying to navigate a store for nippers) I decided to write something down – and then get a reading too. Though Flapjack is too small right now, he might like the sounds.
I owe a lot to many people for the following chapters as you will find out. Some of it will be rough and ready. Some of it, I hope might make us all smile. Especially that long-legged baby that my friends have.
Sunlight streams through the window across Flapjack’s face as he blinks awake from his afternoon nap. Usually he can hear Mummy singing in the kitchen or Daddy making those low, deep noises by now. Wondering whether it’s too early, Flapjack passes time playing with his feet for a while and then turns over to sit up.
His home is all quiet. Starlings sing outside and he can hear the big machines rumbling by on the road, but inside his home, nothing is stirring.
Flapjack is a somewhat unusual child. Though he may not let on to most people, he can do things when he puts his mind to it that most small children would not even attempt. It is in this advanced manner that he unlocks the side of his crib and throws his bedding down to the floor. Cannibal Corpse, the hand stitched soft toy doll and companion takes the first leap. It’s not far to jump, but better to have a soft landing.
Grasping his blanket in one hand and Cannibal Corpse in the other, he heads off to the living room, wondering if there will be a snack today if there is no one around to make it.
The living room is empty and so is the kitchen. Flapjack’s home is warm and full of love, it is also not very big, so when it comes to exploring and seeing who is around, it doesn’t take much time. There is no one around.
Flapjack frowns at the empty flat. Have they forgotten him? Up on the table he can just see that there is a box of rusks. He climbs up on a chair and drags one out of the packaging. There’s a piece of paper on the table too, it has writing on it.
Flapjack can read. The only thing is, as a baby, he’s not a great talker. It’s frustrating. It also means that no one knows he can read. Flapjack suspects this is for the best. He sucks thoughtfully on the rusk and then drops it abruptly on the floor. The note says:
Flapjack’s lip trembles. He doesn’t want to live with foster parents. He wants his Mummy and Daddy back. Just as his eyes start to fill with tears he glances at Cannibal Corpse. The doll permanently wears a look of grim determination, it’s stitched onto is round face.
“You’re right CC,” says Flapjack. “We have to get Mummy and Daddy back. I’ll pack some rusks, we leave in five minutes.” But Cannibal Corpse has no idea what he is saying, mostly because Flapjack’s not great at talking, but also because the doll has no ears and it’s not looking at him.
Flapjack has never been outside on his own. Via a series of determined looks, Cannibal Corpse reminded him to dress warm and bring a bag for his rusks. Together they pushed a chair to the door and opened it. Outside suddenly looked much bigger than before. Flapjack bit his lip and climbed down from the chair. The world may be big, but he had an idea where he could start to find his parents.
The biggest buildings in sight were Lewisham Town Hall and Catford Library. Flapjack decided the town hall was not going to be useful and remembered his Mummy and Daddy had taken him to the library plenty of times. They told him how it was a place where all sorts of stories and information could be found. He had seen his Daddy access a similar place via an object he held in his hand, but presumed that this would have disappeared with his parents as it was rarely far from his Daddy’s side.
After one run in with a curiously clucky woman in the street, Flapjack took side routes and learned to follow women with strollers on the way to the library. This way, no one would realise that he and Cannibal Corpse were out on their own.
The library was large from Flapjack’s point of view. He managed to crawl in around the door without attracting attention and find a chair in a dark corner to hide under. Adventuring of his type was certainly exhausting and within minutes, his bag under his head as a pillow and Cannibal Corpse keeping watch, Flapjack fell fast asleep.
To be continued….