It was a tough lesson. Don’t hide the baby. I learnt it the hard way, and I learnt it well.
Many years ago in 1997 when #1 son was brand new, still wearing his gurning pug face, I got sick with influenza. Not the man-flu type, not the sniffly nose and sore throat type…which is just a cold, but the real Knock you down “there’s a rhinoceros sitting on my head” kind. I was so sick. So to be safe, I decided to put the baby in the capsule and go to the doctor. In hindsight it was more likely that I’d stack the car having endured the delightful Waaah! alarm on the hour, every hour all through the night, than transmit my enthusiastic virus to the offspring, but these are the decisions we make under viral duress.
So I went, with the kid to the Medical Centre.
Like a very sensible and smart new mother, I sat RIGHT at the back of about 10 rows of chairs, next to the sliding exit doors, thinking that the influx of fresh air from outside would counteract any deadly pathogens wafting around inside and be better for baby. This was debatable however, since Hoyts was next door and two-pack-a-day people were crowded around the entrance inhaling their last rat poison before Austin Powers.
With only 97 people in the queue in front of me, I sat patiently and positioned the baby, still in his capsule right down next to my feet where I could smile at him and he could gurn back.
Diana had died, only a week ago. The entire medical centre was deadly quiet watching her funeral. People sniffed, and I couldn’t tell whether they were having a quiet tear over the People’s Princess or they were suffering the same post nasal drip as me. But with each sombre word and panoramic view of the devastated crowd, the silence deepened in the room. You could have heard a pin drop. But it wasn’t a pin. It was my son’s fart.
Babies, I’ll have you know, can blurt out an extraordinary amount of gas from their small pudgy behinds. I’m guessing it’s all in the physics. There’s not enough belly to hold the gas, and there’s not enough space between squished bum and nappy to let it out with a nice quiet ‘foooosh’. It exits under extreme pressure. Not only does it trumpet out, it does so on occasions with the most disproportionate noise:weight ratio that one can only assume there is a farting horse in the room. That horse seemed to be me. All heads turned, as if one, and looked directly at me with disgusted looks on their faces. How could I be so INSENSITIVE as to let one rip during the eulogy.
My cheeks burned beetroot red, matching my over-tissued nose, and although there was no one else sitting near me, I pretended it wasn’t anything to do with me. Until later, the darling child did it again….louder…..longer….and with more finesse than Mr. Methane himself. The London Philharmonic Orchestra couldn’t have done better. Seriously….it blurted “poomp-tiddly-ana –phoomp phoomp!” Not quite in time with Elton’s “English Rose” though far superior in treble, the horrified audience spun in their chairs and glared at me with tearful remonstration.
I tried to look disapprovingly down at the baby, to pass off….no…to pass OWNERSHIP of the toxic gas cloud to the 8 week old, but sadly…the other patients couldn’t SEE the baby. I had hidden him so well from fumes and bugs and bacteria that he was invisible to them below the chairs. I muttered something foul and four lettered to myself (NOT the word fart) and sunk deeply into my chair, wishing for a Cone of Silence and a bottle of scotch.
To this day, any mention of Diana or the sight of funeral flowers makes me cringe with embarrassment, subconsiously squeeze my butt cheeks together and glare at my #1 son.