The surprises around having children are numerous and cannot really be expressed in words.

People try which is why you find books and books of the stuff everywhere.

I found the amount of physical pain your children can inflict on you to be the most surprising.

It starts quite slowly and builds up.

I certainly found that when the Proles were toddlers I became ‘head shy’ whilst changing nappies.

‘Head shy’ from being head butted repeatedly.

Toddlers are, as I am sure i must have pointed out before, like tiny little drunks.
They have extreme responses to seeing you. Deliriously happy in a ‘you are my best mate you are’ kind of way or ‘get away from me I hate you’ are fairly common responses from the under fours but ‘you are invisible to me and I can’t hear you’ is fairly usual as well.
They have poor balance and precious little spacial awareness.

I used to change nappies on a mat on the floor.
After much experimentation with changing tables, kitchen table and sofa it was the easiest for me.
We have a large bathroom so the luxury of having everything laid out on the floor and still having enough space to use the room was just wonderful.
The downside was that nappy time was spent on your knees with the relevant Prole laid out on the mat in front of you.
Physics, biology and practicality mean you are at the foot end of the Prole with easy access to the business in hand.

At an early age this was no problem but as they grew taller the reach on their legs extended.
The nearest part of me to the strike zone of the Proles’ feet was a part of me I usually kept well protected.
An inadvertent kick from one of the Proles could lay me out in a second.
A strict ‘no kicking’ policy came into force in the house, for the most part it still holds all these years later.

Getting them down onto the mat or up from the mat could be fraught, for some reason both Proles took to running into the room and hurling themselves at me in a huge hug.
The amount of times their forehead made contact with the bridge of my nose left me really twitchy when they were in my personal space.
This is not a good way to be with your own children but I found myself getting ready to ‘take them down’ (gently) before they could get to me.

When they were little little, picking them up was not too much of a problem but very soon they began to get quite weighty.
Children move as well.
I can still lift them both quite easily but as soon as they start wriggling they become, or feel, much heavier.
In theatre terms this would be referred to as ‘working with a dynamic load’, a weight or a piece that moves as well as is lifted.
A dynamic load can be very unpredictable which is why climbing ropes are rated six times stronger than they would need to be to lift one person.
Anyone who had seen Prole1 in his roly poly prime would be hard pushed to call him ‘dynamic’ but his job appears to have been to lull my defences into an unwarranted sense of security so his wiry wriggler of a brother could exploit my weaknesses.

When picked up Prole2 would arch his back and hurl himself upside down in my arms.
He would jump from great heights onto me.

Whilst walking he would suddenly change direction and walk directly under my feet meaning a strange, hopping jumping dance to try not to crush him.
He has never really ‘walked’ any great distance in his life.
He starts to walk, then hops for a bit, then skips, a couple of jumps, listens to his feet scuffing the ground, slides his feet for a bit, some more hops. You get the picture.
He has done this since he was a little toddler, in the days when his balance could not sustain him for more than a couple of minutes at a time.
He was very good at slowing to a sudden stop and pulling all the muscles in my arm and across my chest.
His absolute top trick was to slowly topple over in a kind of twisting fall whilst still holding my hand.
In order to save him my arm would twist round and I would come to a stop, holding him just off the ground, my arm at 180 degrees to where it was comfortable.
The first few times he did this were fine, the first few weeks were ok but after a couple of months of this happening on a regular basis I found the tendons in my right arm and neck begin to really twinge.
It went on for about a year.
One morning I could hardly get out of bed.
As soon as he took my hand I knew it was holding him that had done it.
I swapped Prole2 to the left hand where he continued all his walking quirks.
To a degree things got better but carrying a huge nappy change bag, snacks, spare clothes, coats and a second Prole meant that the process was very slow.
I still feel it now, the way all that stuff and those two boys pulled my entire skeleton out of whack.

The change came when he grew tall enough that I could hold his hand and tuck my thumb into my trouser pocket.
When he fell now his weight might drag my trousers down but there was no more spine twisting.

When friends would say “they grow up so fast, you will miss them when they are bigger” I think back to those days of being dosed up on painkillers for my neck and trying to carry all the bags, stuff, shopping and boys.

I have no rose tinted spectacles about those days.

I have enough to carry.

(I am not really finished, I wanted to go back through and work on this again but my computer has frozen twice whilst writing this, I am afraid I will have to leave it here and quit while I am ahead.