‘Would you like some cheese?’, James asked, the cool air of the fridge brushing against his rapidly ageing, sleep-deprived skin like the refreshing breeze on Brighton beach in mid October.
‘Yes please, Daddy!’ Joshua beams, joy radiating from his innocent young face, with the warmth of a summer’s day.
As James unwrapped the processed yellow cylinder from its waxy home and handed it to Joshua he knew that for the next minute or so life would be good. Or at least peaceful.
‘Like it, cheese!’
The words pierced the delicious silence like a pneumatic drill starting up on a stroll through the village. James knew that ‘like it’ could either mean ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’. He also knew that the repercussions of Joshua no longer being placatable by cheese could be life-changing, not just for him but for the whole family.
‘Like it, Daddy!’ rang out again, as Joshua put the cheese on the sofa. James’ greatest fear was becoming a painful reality. Joshua did not want the cheese.
‘What’s wrong with the cheese, son?’ James pleaded in confused, panicky tones.
‘Like it, Daddy!’ came the reply.
‘Shall daddy eat the cheese?’ James said, using everything he could remember about reverse psychology at that time in the morning.
‘No daddy, Joshy’s cheese’ came the really quite predictable reply. After all, James had long since come to terms with the fact that everything he owned actually now belonged exclusively to Joshua.
With tension enveloping the room James knew the next few minutes would be crucial, but as Joshua attempted the cram the cheese back into its waxy, squished shell it looked as though defeat was coming ever closer.
James’ heart raced as Joshua picked up the partially wrapped cheese in his tiny, perfectly formed little hands – hands which still looked smaller and distinctly less purple than when the pair first met in Cell Block Marsh at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in 2014.
‘Are you going to eat the cheese now, son?’ James asked, more in hope than expectation.
‘No, Daddy!’ Joshua exclaimed as he marched, cheese in hand, towards the fridge, opening the cool white door and once again unleashing the icy air from within.
James knew the game was up. ‘Shall Daddy put the cheese back in the fridge?’
‘Yes daddy!’ came the reply. ‘Joshy like cheese’
Confused and bewildered, James placed the cheese back in the fridge and the pair exchanged a glance. ‘Is there something else you would prefer,’ asked James.
‘Cheese please, Daddy!’
‘You want the cheese? The one I’ve just put back in the fridge? This cheese right here?’
‘Yes daddy, Joshy like it’
As the cheese was returned to the little boy’s outstretched hands, he popped it straight in his mouth and devoured the processed bundle of joy within seconds.
With order restored, James returned to the sofa to see what ridiculous errors Leah would be forgiving her two incompetent genie friends for this time. And to compose a blog entry to capture the confusing but ultimately rewarding experience.