Archives for the month of: December, 2013

We went to a Winter show in some woods where we meet a Fairy, half way up a tree, who tells the audience to make a wish.

Prole1: Did you make a wish?

Me: Yes I did.

Prole1: I did too, I wished everyone was as happy as they are on their birthday every day. I am glad you made a wish. What was it?

Me: I can’t tell you, it will not come true.

Prole1 (worried): Really?

Prole2: I made a wish.

Me: I am sure it will be ok, just keep it to yourself and don’t tell anyone. I am sure it will be fine.

Prole2: Will mine come true?

Me: I am sure it will.

Prole1: What about mine? After I told you and everything?

Me: Well, it’s a pretty big wish, there are a lot of people in the world. 

Prole1: Well I wanted to do some good, to make a difference.

Me: Yes. Um. Well, just keep wishing it and one day it might come true.

Prole1: I might have to wish it again next year. Will it come true if I wish it next year now that I have told you?

Prole2 has been frowning at me for the entire exchange. I don’t like it when he looks at me like that.

Me: I am sure I will forget all about it and then it will be ok.

Prole1: What if I make the wish next year and half way through the next year you remember? Will it stop working?

Prole2: My wish has not come true.

I believe this may be the best escape I am going to get.

Me: Oh, are you sure?

Prole2: Come here, take your hat off.

He reaches up under my hat and I can feel his tiny cold fingers running over my hair and inspecting my scalp.
He steps back, still frowning.

Prole2: Nope. Nothing yet. When will it work?

Me: What was the wish?

Prole2: Well I am not telling YOU. Otherwise it will never come true.

Me: No, I suppose not.

Prole2: Let me have another look.

This time he removes my hat and tilts my head from side to side.

Prole2: No, not yet.

Prole1: Don’t worry. I am sure it will come true if you wish hard enough.

Me: Um, yes, probably.

Prole2 scowls at the top of my head then a radiant smile cracks across his face.

Prole2: It’s going to be brilliant!

Prole1: I hope so.

Me: Yes. Me too.

It may ruin everything to say it here but I really wish I knew what was going on sometimes.

Behind the radiator in the bathroom, wrapped neatly in two flannels, is what I imagine at some point was a lollipop.

The wrapper and stick are still fairly recognisable but everything else has soaked into the wrappings in a pinky purple sticky mess.
The whole thing is tied with a small piece of red ribbon which means one of the Proles must have had a hand in there somewhere.

It may have been placed there at any point in the last few years, I am ashamed to say I had not noticed.
Heaven knows why it was put there.

I have decided to boil wash the flannels to see if they can be rescued.

I have a slight problem with throwing away bathroom linen.
For so many years i lived a single life with two towels and one face flannel. Replacing a towel was something that happened rarely and was a big moment, a visit to the sort of shop I never entered for any other reason.

Later when we married we never had a ‘set’ of towels, just a collection of acquired pieces, souvenirs and gifts that all had stories attached and marked our transition from single people to a married couple. Older towels got pushed to the back of the cupboard but never really ‘retired’ from service.

I really have to get over myself.

Yesterday Prole2 and I went to TK Maxx and bought four large white bath sheets. Prole1 was having a sci-fi marathon with the Manager, three and a half hours of doctor Who and Empire Strikes back so he could not come.

I have just cleared away a bin bag full of old towels and replaced them with the fluffy new purchases.

This follows the traumatic experience of clearing out ‘that drawer in the kitchen where you put all that stuff’ yesterday.

At the back of the drawer I found a half eaten packet of glucose tablets I used to eat all the time when Prole1 was a newborn.
Eight years those glucose sweets had been there.
Part of me wondered if I had the moral right to move them after all those years?
Part of me wanted to try one.
Most of me was just deeply disappointed in myself for not having noticed them at some point in the last seven years or so.
They went into the bin along with anything I had not used in more than four years.
Lemon squeezer, practice chopsticks, perished rubber seals for non existent jars, bottle stoppers, old drinking straws and a bit of metal that must have had a use at some point but even I did not know what for.

If this carries on I might even tackle the ‘stuff under the stairs’ soon, but I must walk before I can run.

This is all activity meant to distract me from cleaning the front room of course.
Or doing the washing up.

Prole2 is playing with his Wrestling Rumblers Wrecking Truck.

Prole1 is designing images for his Animation Praxinoscope.

I like the quiet evenings.

We walked out across the beach and up onto the towans today.
Prole1 hung around and chatted, Prole2 wandered off and wide, keeping us in eye contact but jumping fro tussock to tussock, picking up snail shells and jumping down dunes.

Prole2: Look at me! I can jump like Kofi Kingston.

He falls over.

Me: Brilliant. Do it again.

Prole2: OK!

Prole1: Can I watch Star Wars later?

Me: No.

Prole1: Why not?

Me: I don’t like you. I have decided you are going to live in the garden from now on. 2014 will be the year of sleeping under the shed. I would let you sleep in the shed but the police won’t let me.

Prole1: Fair enough.

Me: You got any sweets?

Prole1: No. Would you like some Shortbread?

Me: You have shortbread?

Prole1: Only for people who let me watch Star Wars.

Me: You can watch Star Wars.

Prole1: Thanks.

Me: You will have to stand on the doorstep to do it though.

Prole1: Let me in and I will let you have a Polo.

Me: You have Polos?

Prole1: Only for people who let me live in their houses.

Me: Can I have a Polo?

Prole1: Shortbread now. Polo when you let me into the house.

Me: Fair enough.

Prole1: We can dress Prole2 in my clothes. That should fool the police.

Me: Good plan.

Prole1: I like Star Wars.

Me and the Proles just watched the Titfield Thunderbolt on telly.

I remember it as a child, watching it now is odd, it’s not the best paced Ealing Comedy but I still really like it.

Prole2 danced through most of it and wrapped himself up in a cat. The cat was non too pleased but this being the season of goodwill things seemed to turn out all right. This is the same cat that forced him out of bed last week, he turned up in mine at 4.30am complaining that he was being bullied.

Prole1 ate cheese and watched the film with all the intensity he might give a deep documentary into the privatisation of important bastions of National identity.
He may have strange dreams due to all the cheese as he was packing it away tonight.

We had a long discussion about where to hang stockings which ended in a vote.
Prole1 is big on votes.
I felt I had to bring a little power to bear as some of the locations for stocking placement were at best impractical, at worst impossible for any Christmas magic at all.
It was not exactly rigged but Father christmas pretty much gets his way on this one.

The 9 carrots left out for the reindeer have been reduced to 3, on the grounds that the reindeer have to keep moving and don’t want to get too full, and Prole2 has been to the toilet twice in the last half hour.

Proles now in bed, lights out and silent.

Happy Christmas you lot.

Prole1: What was I like when I was a baby?

Me: Fat.

Prole1: Really? Is that what I was like?

Me: Pretty much.

He was too.
We used to take him along to have him weighed as a baby and his ‘percentile’ graph was essentially a near vertical line in the left hand side that disappeared off the page and did not return.
He looked like a balloon full of butter tied up with elastic bands.
With glasses.
He was diagnosed as needing glasses at six months old, he had a really pronounced squint and we had been advised to get it looked at as early as possible and as part of the tests his eyes had been thoroughly examined.
By ‘looked at’ the specialist had meant operated on.
And by ‘operated on’ he had meant pop them out, snip away at the back a bit, pop them back in and see if that was any better.
It was much better of course but I shall never forget the specialist coming down the corridor, giving Prole1 his first anaesthetic injection and saying he just wanted to make sure it all went smoothly, whipping out a felt tip pen and putting two big arrows on Prole1’s forehead, both pointing at  different eye.
Just in case there was some kind of mix up.
He then went back to the operating theatre to prepare for the operation leaving us with Prole1 looking like a small, spaced out, monochrome clown.

Prole1 got his glasses aged eight months. He was so fat that they rested on his cheeks and did not touch his nose at all.

He stayed pretty round until he hit five years old.

He had a ferocious imagination from an early age. When he learned  to walk he would stump around his Thomas train track moving trains, cuddly toys, plastic dinosaurs like some small, scary, tubby, social scientist, whispering ‘This…this…this..’ under his breath.

He told off the nice lady from Sure Start for not reading the book in the right order and he told off an international playwright for mis-identifying an Ibex as a Gazelle, both before the age of two. At two he told me there was no such thing as a Brontasaurus, it was called an Apatosaurus. I had to look it up.

By three he was deep into imaginary worlds, there were ‘lands’ where he was a squirrel or a button on his chest would make him grow or we were all underwater. His cuddly toys all had names, friends, enemies and a complicated back story. His bedroom was called ‘Busy Island’ and had an airport and a ferry terminal.

At three and a half he watched the first aiders  carrying out CPR on Loz in the toy library.

I got back from the hospital after Loz died. It was late and the Proles were all ready in bed by the time I saw them.

The next day Prole1 asked how his Mum was.
I sat on the edge of the bed and lifted the little round man onto my knees.
He was wearing grey trousers and a black sweater.

I had no idea if he would understand, I thought he would but I had no way of knowing so I decided not to stall, I came right out with it.

Me: I am really sorry, your Mum has died.

He threw his head back and moaned. For a while he just moaned, then he cried and cried and cried.

Finally he said ‘I don’t want to be in this land’.

He cried and we talked and he cried for about forty five minutes. Then he stopped.

He cried every day for a long time, but every day the crying would stop and we would get on with it, life.

He is a very skinny Prole these days.
For homework last week he tied three hundred and sixty luggage labels onto a piece of string, one for each pupil at his school, each with a hand drawn face and colour coded depending on year. He had separate names labels for each of the thirty or so staff at the school.
He decorated a box to look like the school front doors and made the pupils pour through the doors on to the table.

Me: Why did you want to do it like this?

Prole1: We have to make a model of the school but the school is not just walls and stuff it can be made up of all the kids and teachers and stuff so I made them. It’s like a maths model from school.

Me: It’s good, I hope they like it.

Prole1: Me too. I wanted to make it a proper model of the school out of ginger bread with jelly babies as pupils but the scale was all wrong. A jelly baby is this big…

He held his finger about an inch above the floor.

Prole1: …which means the walls would have been this big.

He walks to the other side of the room with arm outstretched.

Prole1: We would have needed a bigger oven.

Me: Yes. We would have needed a bigger oven. And a lorry to deliver it.

Prole1 (wistfully): Yes…yes…never mind. I hope this will do.

Prole1: What are you reading?

Me: A thing about Christmas presents.

Prole1: What about them?

Me: About how a lot of them are expensive and never get used.

Prole2: Do you want presents for Christmas?

Me: From you? A smile and a kiss is all I need for Christmas from you.

Prole2: I can do that every day, then you can have Christmas every day.

Me: That would be lovely.

Prole1: It would be cheap too. You like cheap things.

Me: Yes…

It’s all about control.
As long as you know the space a situation inhabits and how far you can go in each direction and as long as you never step outside that boundary you can do it all.
If I know how far I am from a meal for the Proles, where the nearest shelter is, how close to our car, my keys, my phone and a packet of wet wipes are, if I know where the spare pants are, where I keep the shovel and the torch and the wet weather gear, and exactly where I would go to find a bed for the Proles should I get stranded I don’t mind anything really.
But if I don’t know these things then I really don’t like it.
People are the variables for the most part.
I can plan for weather, car break down, cash point failure, wardrobe failure, bladder and occasionally bowel failure, extra hour between meals, cold snaps and terrible terrible emotional melt downs over who sits in which chair but there are things I cannot predict.
Mostly people.
People can ruin a day in a second.

I go to a cafe near my friends house, we go there to wait, to kill time or when food is necessary right then, that instant.
The staff are nice people, really lovely, but it’s like they are programmed to ruin the delicate balance if life with the Proles.
It is a gift they have.
I used to know a girl who could stop clocks just by standing near them.
I used to know another girl who affected car door locks and made the un-openable.
This lot are genetically pre-disposed to ruining lunch for mankind.
It’s subtle too.
The waiter bring in ‘beans ON toast’ instead of ‘beans BESIDE toast’.
He clearly thinks it petty that he gets that kind of response from our table.
It has happened several times now, despite asking really, really clearly and sharing a joke about the last time it happened.

Another time the card reader was not working and took six or seven minutes of head scratching to spark it into life. Six or seven minutes is a long time if you are five. long enough for both of them to lie down and start to go to sleep on the floor. I ended up sitting at a table and playing eye spy until I could pay for the food and feed the Proles. Twice I was told it was my card by different members of staff. In the end an eagle eyed KP noticed the card reader got unplugged every time the till was opened.

Owner: Never mind eh?

Me: No, never mind.

Pear juice instead of Apple juice. That did it the next time.

Accidental placement of ham on militant six year old animal rights campaigner’s plate.
Much apologising.
Prole1 wept all the way home for the ‘poor pig’.

Last week was the clincher.
Long day, good day, lots of laughing, running and throwing things in the sea.
Chasing seagulls and emptying sand out of wellies.
Like a Gap advert but with frankly under par models.
Snack time and it comes on to rain, snap decision, to the cafe.
Bit of a walk and we burst in to the slightly too hot cafe and I wrangle a tray into the queue.
Everyone in the village had the same idea so it took a while to get to the counter.
Prole1 starts to overheat and I am trying to get him out of his coat without upsetting the tray or the other customers.
Prole2 goes white as a sheet which spells cake deprivation but he is not too sure about the varied bakery products on offer.
We get near the front of the queue and I try to push the talks towards resolution.
Following tense negotiations, right in front of the owner, that went on for some time and were clearly very elaborate and specific, Prole2 said: I’ll have the Flapjack.

By this time he had loudly refused all other cakes, biscuits, pasties and croque monseurs.
Yes, they sell croque monseurs, I had to describe the contents of a croque monseur twice in front of the owner only to have them rejected. Quite right too, they have no place outside Soho in the nineties.

There were no flapjacks.

Me: Which one?

Prole2: That one.

It wasn’t a flapjack but it was close enough and more importantly it was a decision.

Me: Brilliant. One of those please.

Owner (loudly): That’s not a flapjack sonny.

Prole2, milky white skin and dark bags under his eyes, did the long slow turn with the eyes screwed up and collapse slowly to one side right next to the till.

There was a short pause and then a slow moan went up from under the counter. To most people this sounded like a small boy crying.
To me it sounded like twenty five minutes of wiping away tears, hugging, coaxing, reassuring and convincing that Prole2 eat something, to stop him being hungry, every minute knowing that he was getting hungrier and that was making him more upset. In a crowded cafe, full of clucking and tutting eyes flicking across me and the Proles. It was the sound of choosing whether to ride it out or get out of the cafe and try somewhere else.

I stared at the owner.
The pause continued. So did the moaning.

Me: Ok. it’s not a flapjack.

Owner: No.

Me: I did not ask you if it was a flapjack. You know it’s not a flapjack, I know it’s not a flapjack and all these people in the queue know it’s not a flapjack. I think the key thing here was HE though it was a flapjack which is why I just asked you for it without saying “I know that’s not a flapjack but can you put it on a plate and give it to me”

Owner: I didn’t want him to be disappointed.

Me (looking down on Prole2 who was in the foetal position at my feet) No. Because that would be bad.

Owner: There is no need to be like that mate. It’s not my fault.

And inside my head, welling up and crashing against my teeth were the words

Because Prole2 will cry and shout the place down until I can get us all safely to the table and I am ten feet from the nearest table, carrying a bulky bag of toddler nonsense, wearing my coat and hat in your baking hot cafe, with Prole1 headbutting my hip and the only option is to put the tray down and carry Prole2 to a seat, bumping everyone on the way with bag and toddler feet, take off my bag and coat then bump everyone on the way back back carrying Prole2 because he is just taking flight in what appears to be a thankfully rare but none the less impressive tantrum and try to recover the tray and re-negotiate food options, all of which have been rejected once already, twice in the case of the stupid croque monseur, then try to pay one handed with my card in your STUPID CARD READER THAT I ALREADY HATE and try to bump everyone with tray and child to the table without scalding him or me or one of you customers with hot tea, and try to stop Prole1 from engaging a hapless local in one of his weird conversations about evolution and Star Wars and get him back to the table without losing Prole2 and even then I HAVE NO GUARANTEE YOU ARE NOT GOING TO PUT THE BEANS ON PROLE1’S BLOODY TOAST.
It did not have to be this way but now, because you HAD to be pedantic about your over priced, soggy VIENNESE SLICE, everyone in this overcrowded cafe is staring at me and my fate is sealed.

And what I actually said was: Well stick it on a plate and I will sort him out.

It’s all about control.

Prole2 went to a football party today.

The invite asked for football kit and trainers.
Be in the leisure centre at 2 and play football for an hour, then a birthday tea in the cafe.
We don’t have a football kit in the house.
Football is not a part of my life really.
I don’t mind football.
Some of my best friends like football.
We just don’t talk about it.
I last watched a football match in 1997.
If Prole2 was under prepared for the party his discomfort was nothing compared to mine.

Prole2: I don’t want to play football.

Me: It will be fun. You will love it.

Prole2: I don’t know how to play football.

Me: It’s ok, they will teach you.

Prole2: Do you love it?

Me: Pardon?

Prole2: Do you love football?

Me: Well I don’t get a chance to play much any more….

Prole2: Did you play when you were at school?

Me: Yes, yes I did. Everyone did.

Prole2: Were you good?

Me: At school? Yes.

Prole2: No, at football.

He appeared to be on to me. I found myself stalling and starting to stammer. this always happens when men discuss football  near me. It had never happened with an under seven before.

Me: Well, we played in the playground, not on a proper five aside…um..court…pitch…place like you will be playing today. It’s like a pitch but inside, with a hard floor.

Prole2: What are the rules of football?

Me: Welll….there are two teams and each team has a goal and you have to get the ball into the goal.

Prole2: Then what?

Me: Then your team gets a goal.

Prole2: Another one?

Me: No, each team only has one goal….

Prole2: So how do they win if they both have one goal each.

Me: Well they score a goal if they get the ball in the other goal.

Prole2: What?

Me: They will teach you all this at the party.

Prole2: I don’t think I want to go to the party.

Me: There will be cake.

Prole2: OK. I will go.

After the party we sat in the car.

Me: Was it good?

Prole2: Yes, the man said I made an astonishing pass. Can we do it again?

Me: You can, you can if you want.

Prole2: Can I have a football kit?

Me: One step at a time….

Me: What did you do at school today?

Prole2: Nothing.

Prole1: I did something.

Prole 2: I did something too!

Me: What did you do?

Prole1:Well we started….

Prole2: I had LUNCH!

Me: Right, lunch, I know you have that at…


Me: umm…that’s nice.

Prole2: I ATE IT!

Me: Yes

Prole1: I had some too.

Prole2: ALL! I ATE IT ALL! It had peas and sprouts and carrots and gravy and potatoes and peas and…peas and gravy on the…

At this point he leans forward and grabs the side of my head. He puls me really close and hisses wetly into my ear.

Prole2: Meat.

Prole2 is trying to save Prole1’s feelings on the subject of diet. Prole2 is omnivorous. He does not share his brothers high morals on the subject of vegetarianism.
He did once ask if he could eat nothing but cake, I feel that was not a moral question however.

Prole1: He is talking about meat again.

Me: Yes. Did you eat the christmas dinner too? What did you have.

Prole1: All that stuff he had and some wet stuff instead of the meat.

Prole2: AND…And those balls. You know, the black balls?

Me: The..the what sorry?

Prole2: The black balls you have. You know the ones? With roast? The ball-y things?

Me: The poorly what?

Prole2: The ball-y things with the white stuff in?

Me: Stuffing?

Prole2: Yes, with stuff in.

Prole1: No, he means stuffing.

Prole2: Oh. Yes. Stuffing. I had cake and custard for pudding.

Prole1: I had a biscuit.

Me: You had wet stuff and a biscuit for lunch? No fruit salad?

As far as I know, Prole1 has eaten fruit salad with every meal at school for the last three years.

Prole1: No. No fruit salad today.

Me: You should have complained.

Prole2: He did.

Prole1: I did! I said ‘I don’t want a biscuit in the shape of an angel, I want some fruit salad.’ They said ‘Prole1 it’s too many puddings to prepare’ and I said I only want one, a little bowl of fruit salad, and they said they would try harder for me in the future.

Me: The kitchen staff know your name?

Prole1: Oh Yes. They say things like ‘oh dear, here he comes’ and things like that. They even have my picture on the wall, in case there is a new person who does not recognise me.

Prole 2: They don’t have my picture on the wall.

Prole1: Nope, just mine.

Me: I’ll just bet they do.

Prole2: We learned about pollution.

Me: Oh, tell me about it.

Prole2: It’s like bogeys.

Me: Right…

Prole2: Yes, because if you have a bogey and you flick it, like THAT, it only looks like a little bit but if everybody flicked their bogeys then there would be all bogeys everywhere. You have to not flick them and tidy them up. Like pollution.

Me: Right…

Prole2: I dreamed of a house made of Pizza.

Me: Right….

Proe2: Yes! Hah! Gimme-gimme- gimme-hah!

He has his head on the floor and is kicking his legs in the air.

Me: What are you doing?

Prole2: I am dancing.

I carried on cooking, sausage and mash for me and Prole2. 
Prole1 gets a veg pie because when he was four he decided to side with the herbivore dinosaurs and never came back.
Recently it was revealed to him that sweets contained gelatine and he made me look it up on Google.
I am not falling for that one again.
Have you read how they make it?

Anyhow we now live separate dietary lives in my house.

I decided to be completely straight with the boys about where food comes from.
I know some parents don’t do this or choose a moment to tell their children ‘the truth’.
It’s like food is delivered by the tooth fairy.
It’s because we hate to talk about death.
I am getting more and more annoyed at the social acceptance that surrounds dressing your child as a rotting corpse every Halloween but parent’s complete inability to tell children how food gets to their plate.
It’s like someone has a vested interest in encouraging us to dress our kids as the undead whilst selling loads of purple, green and orange nonsense once a year, perhaps the same people who came up with the term “Happy Meal”. 
Ask the cow.
It’s dead and it’s not happy.
Animals die in our name and the only respect we give them is to put their smiling faces on the packaging.
Death is not much fun and say what you like, selling coffin shaped gingerbread or marsh mallows in the shape of eye balls is hiding something much darker.
Festivals of death occur across the world but this is the first civilisation that has sanitised death so much that we no longer think about it every day.
Halloween came about because people were freaked right out by death and wanted to pay respect to this universal, un-escapable certainty.
Go kill your dinner one night.
Death is not ‘a bit of fun’.
You will never look at a marshmallow eyeball in the same way again.

What do I know though? I’m still cooking sausages.

Me: You still dancing?

Prole2: Yep….just…jigging…dancing.

Me: Do you want any music on?

Prole2: No…just…practicing…

Me: Right.

Prole2 balances on one leg and makes sweeping movements with his arms, then hops round the room with his face screwed up.

Prole2: I love dancing. 

Me: That looks good.

Prole2: Yes. This is how girls dance.

Me: I did know a girl who danced like that once.

Prole2: Cool. Right put the music on. I am ready. I want to dance like Iggle Piggle.

Me: What do you want?

Prole2: YMCA please. I love to dance.