Archives for the month of: March, 2014

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At 5.30am Prole2 came into my room.
He went to the toilet and came back and I could tell he was on his way to see me.

He actually fell over all the cars he had left there in the doorway and a tiny bit of me rejoiced.

My house is not tidy, you would not call it a tidy house.
The floor surfaces are slowly being removed and the results are a dusty house.
There are things around.
You can find stuff here and there.
A lot of bits are in the wrong place.

It has a level of tidiness that I am happy with, we could not become more untidy, messy or dirty without me getting quite upset about it.
I think everyone has their level.
Mine just happens to be relatively low.

I have been asked if I would not feel better about the place if I was more tidy.
I can only say I am very happy living as I do. It is only when other people come round that I feel self conscious about it.
I am selective about who comes round these days.
I hate to upset people.

The Proles’ ability to colonise whole parts of the hose with extensions from “Busy Island” or exploratory expeditions by “Captain Skull” or, as in the case of last evening, a super long racetrack, is one that I tolerate for a while, anything up to a week, before punitive and wide reaching clearing up.

By the time I went to bed last night an extensive series of garages, service vehicles and mechanised transport was making up the Pit area of the upstairs raceway.
his Pit area was just inside the door to my bedroom.
I often tell the boys that these things are a trip hazard and so it was that after Prole1 had trotted off to the toilet I heard him come up the last three stairs, step into my room and fall over his own Pit crew.

This I felt, served him right.
He climbed into my bed and we both fell asleep without speaking.

I had a good sleep for the next hour and a quarter or so until the alarm went off.
I sat up and Prole2 lolled over in the bed.

Prole2: I feel sick.

I switched instantly Parent-With-Sick-Child mode.

Me: You feel sick? Do you need to be sick now?

I was moving and getting dressed. Or at least a bit more dressed. The landing window has a clear view of my young neighbour’s garden and the last thing they need is the sight of a half naked mid forties man carrying a vomiting boy first thing in the morning.

Prole2: Yep. I was sick last night too….

His words trailed off as he began gipping and I got him out of my bed just in time.
He retched and burped and chucked his way to the toilet.

The tally of sick, not including the sitting on the sofa with a bowl on his knee, was impressive.

He was sick on my bedroom floor.
He was sick on my socks and my shirt.
He was sick on the landing carpet.
He was sick on the bathroom floor.
He was sick on two bathroom mats.
He was sick on a bath towel.
He was sick on himself quite a lot.

His attempt to wee and be sick simultaneously was daring, courageous and not entirely successful.

I looked at the utter devastation and at Prole2 cured up and shivering on the one remaining clean bath towel.
This was going to be a day of disinfectant, washing machines and not going to work.

Looking after sick children is an odd experience as an adult.

I am worried enough that I cannot stop myself checking him all the time, just to see if he is displaying new and terrifying symptoms..
I am aware it is a day off school enough and remember what that means enough to really get quite excited.
Neither of these attitudes really prepares you for how boring it can be.

Washing, scrubbing the floor, spraying anti-bacterial nonsense around the house, this is not much fun.
Sitting watching my son breathe wears a bit thin after a while.
Getting any work done is a bit of a non starter.

Sleeping, while not actually illegal, is probably immoral with a sick child.

He did look really peaky.
We tried breakfast.
Well, he sort of flirted with it in a digestive sense before returning it to the bowl.

Prole1 saw the whole thing as a bit of an adventure.
he stood with his hands in his uniform pockets and ‘stray sick’ spotted for me while I tried to clean up.
He looked like a diminutive Health and Safety Officer.
I should have taken a photo, just to compare to when he grows up and becomes a real Health and Safety Officer.

The dangerous bit of the walk to school is crossing the road outside our house.
It’s a very narrow road and the only think I am worried about is drivers not seeing him trying to cross between all the parked cars.
I walked him across the road and he went off to school on his own.
He bounced round the corner and off he was so excited.
I stepped back through the door.

Prole2 was dozing on the sofa.
The cats had found him and were draped all over him.

I sat in the kitchen and had a cup of tea before round two of washing.

It was quiet.
It was odd not to be at work.

Life suddenly seemed really very fragile again.

I squashed all that back down and started the clear up.

Never finished that cup of tea,

Got to keep going, the alternative is awful.

 

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It is Mothers’ Day here in Britain.
I dd not realise this happens at different times around the world.

The clocks have changed too which has made the whole sleep timing thing a bit of a lottery tonight.

There are no guarantees about sleep at the best of times but following the changing of the clocks and with the Proles squeezing in an unexpected car journey snooze I am not sure how this evening will pan out.

I used to love the car as a sleep inducer in children.

There was a rhythm to long journeys in a car.

Being front facing I could not see what the Proles were up to back there.

I am not a talker in the car.
When I am driving I like to watch the road.
When I was younger I looked forward to long journeys by car as an opportunity to stare out of the window and think.
I have and ingrained animosity towards family games like ‘I Spy’ and ‘Animal Vegetable Mineral’ because I remember them as points of friction in the family.
If I stared out of the window and said nothing there seemed to be no problems so over time I came to do that more and more.
Being on tour used to suit me for the same reason, an opportunity to sit and think.

These days when I have the Proles in the car I find the entertainment a real trial.
We do sing some times.
We do play word games sometimes.
We do have in depth or vacuously shallow conversations sometimes.

Most of the time the three of us sit in silence.
We don’t have a DVD player in the car, we don’t own tablets and the boys don’t have a DS between them.
The CD player is broken.
That leaves the radio or nothing.
Most of the time we have the radio on.
Since the boys have become more aware of music I have toned down the amount of Radio4 we all listen to.

They have always been fairly aware of music but in the last couple of years they have been able to suggest preferences and identify artists and songs.

I miss Radio4 terribly.
We flit between Radio2, HEART and occasionally Radio1.

The journeys are always punctuated every three songs or so by Prole2:

Prole2: Dad? Dad? Dad?

Me: Yes?

Prole2: I like this song.

Me: Yes.. it is..Duran Duran/Kid Creole and the Coconuts/Guns and Roses/The Pet Shop Boys/Motorhead…it’s good isn’t it?

Followed by silence for the next three songs.

In the past I could sense when the Proles were asleep.
I could tell within two minutes of Prole2 going from chatty, wriggly and weepy to falling asleep.

A peace would descend on the car and a quick glance in the rear view mirror and he was gone.
I can’t tell what had changed, with the engine and the radio and the sound of the tarmac beneath the wheels it is difficult to say it was just sound but something changed.
Tangible between the three of us.

I did not have such a success rate with Prole1.
Things would be silent for ages, I would glance back and he would stare back at me, or we would be half way through a conversation and suddenly he was gone, sleeping, head bumping against the window.

Prole2 has always been a bit odd though.
Like the time when he was four and it was his turn to click on the digital advent calendar door and he freaked, said he did not want to do it.
Me: Ok, ok, don’t worry, calm down. Why don”t you want to open it?

Prole2: I want to see the ducks doing the smashing.

Me: Right…you don’t want to open this one?

Prole2: No. I want to see the ducks.

Me: Right…um…will you swap with your brother?

Prole1: I don’t mind.

Prole2: Yes please thank you..

Prole1 clicked on the door and there was an animation of the London Eye.
The next day Prole2 clicked on the door and there was an animation of ducks trying to land on ice and skidding on it before breaking through and landing.

Prole2: Yay! Ducks.

Freaky, freaky, freak.

Today on the way back from St Austell there was a sudden peace in the car and I knew he was sleeping.
I glanced in the rear view mirror and they had both slumped sideways in their seats.
They used to fit, tucked into their chairs.
Now they pour in a gangly tangle across the back seat.

For a moment it was the most peaceful thing I have seen for months.
Then out of nowhere John Paul Young’s song ‘Love Is In The Air’ came on the radio.

A very Happy Mothers’ day to you all.

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The tom cat is back.

It won’t actually come into my kitchen any more since our last meeting.
Well it has not come in yet, who knows about the future.

For now it stands on the lawn and stares at us.

I am fairly sure this is the reason my cat is pulling all it’s fur out. She stopped for a couple of days but has just started again.

This is in part my fault, part Prole1’s fault and mostly the tom cat’s fault.

Following an emergency surgery session on our house me and the Proles have been on a clean up detail for most of the day.
There was sawdust, wood shavings and plaster dust all over the place as well as dozens of old loose screws that had for the most part just dropped out of the splintered woodwork.
The pieces I had mended it with were a mixture of what I found around the house and shed and a scrap piece from the local woodyard.
I am going to have to look at it all again one day but it’s holding so far.

We went surf life saving at the pool today which broke everything up.
Prole2’s second session and he was excited beyond words.
He had a brilliant time.
I did not.
He spent the whole time looking around, seeing what was going on while small children churned past him like small torpedoes.
He fell off swell boards, he dropped balls, he sank several times.
He only managed to do one length of the pool without stopping for a chat, check what everyone else was doing, examine the ropes between the lanes or just forget whatever he was doing and turn round and go back for more instructions.
He also seemed to think that doggy paddle was the best stroke to adopt in the pursuit of surf rescue.

He was having a ball.
I was having kittens.
I know he can swim.
I know he can do it.

I also knew that bellowing across the pool at him was probably not the best way to do it.
I sat for an hour watching through my fingers.
Still, let’s not crush his sporting aspirations.

Prole1 was great. His impersonation of a drowning victim was, if anything, a little too good for me but I can’t fault him for getting into the role.

I tried to help Prole2 take his goggles off in the male changing room but managed to pull his hair and make him cry.
I felt awful and determined not to interfere again.
Prole1 said he would take care of it so I waited outside.
It is odd to think of them as a small team, helping each other get dressed without me.
Being in the corridor seemed like a long way away.
They changed, came out and we headed home again.

Prole1 helped to sweep up. He did the kitchen and the stairs and swept it all out the back door.
Obviously as soon as he had finished and was not looking I did it all again but it was the principle of the thing I admired.
I had less admiration for Prole2 who spent a disproportionate amount of time ‘tidying’ his lego away. It seemed to take a very long time for not much result.
Still, let’s not stifle his creativity.

When Prole1 had finished sweeping he left the broom outside.
He had used our white broom, with the stiff bristles.
I could not find it so I finished off with the red broom, with the soft bristles.

A lot of my professional life was spent thinking about brooms, while I am far from satisfied with the ones we have I am not sure I could survive with only one broom.

What with one thing and another this afternoon I needed to sweep up again.

Wordwitch was coming round again for cookery club and we just needed to lose the ‘all boys together in a house’ tint that the kitchen had.
Her session was a good one as it happened.
Prole2’s gingerbread man production line began to resemble an Anthiny Gormley installation on the kitchen table.
Prole1 showed off his trophy and recited his weak out speech from school. (I don’t know what’s so special, I think I know it off by heart as well now.)
We ate biscuits and they had a folk dance with socks session in the front room.
Anyway she was coming and we needed to spruce up.

I stepped outside with some re-cycling and found the white broom by the back door.

Quick once around the kitchen and I was starting to load the dishwasher when I smelled it.
That tang of tom cat.

I started sniffing round the room.

I could not locate it.
It was coming from somewhere but I could not tell where.
The floor? Yes maybe.
The kitchen cabinets? Yes, I think perhaps…
My clothes? Had the horrible feline got my clothes somehow?
Why did my hands smell?

What on earth was going on? He seemed to have gone everywhere.
It was even on the broom.

The broom.

It had sprayed on the broom.

The broom had been outside all night and a cat had sprayed on it.

The broom I had just swept the whole of the kitchen with?

I had to put all my clothes in the wash, forbid the Proles from going into the Kitchen, bleach and mop the whole of the kitchen and hallway.

I hate that cat.

 

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I actually put my foot through the landing.

It has been making creaky noises for a while but being covered in carpet I just sort of ignored it.
Finally today it gave just a bit too much of a creaky crunch so I lifted the carpet to have a look.

I did a couple of exploratory stamps to simulate the Proles running to the loo and with a bit of a sideways slump the whole thing fell in.
It seems it was the carpet holding the carpentry together.

There was not much to go on but I managed to put something together to replace it.

It broke at about 2ish and it was finally ready to be walked on at 6.
During that same time period I collected the Proles from school, put a wash on and cooked them dinner.

Yeah, all men are rubbish at multi tasking.

They were remarkably non plussed by having a gaping hole to swing over to get up stairs.
I wonder if it is a good thing that they take it in their stride that large parts of the house could be missing when they return in the evenings?
I think I will chalk it up as a strength for now. The psychologist may re-classify it when they grow up.

Prole1 was a quivering mass any way.
He won the ‘Speak Out’ cup for his year at school.
I was quite impressed, it actually looked like a cup, a proper trophy.
He stood in front of the whole school and talked about our garden.

Our garden is a scrubby patch of grass that sits on the poisonous mining spoil of Redruth and every time you dig a new bit up all the copper in the stones kills everything.
I could not really imagine what Prole1 was going to talk to them about for all that time but some how he managed it.

I have his notes beside me now, he wrote them out and learned them by heart.
I cannot quite do justice to the typography but this gives you the gist:

Hello I am from Class 3I. I’am here to talk to you about My Wildlife Garden. Now my Garden is full of insect’s, the main place that they gather is in the insect house. the insect house is stact with twigs, Banboo, Shell’s and it even has an ant’s nest on it.
Not all the insects in my garden are in the inscecthouse the wood-lice Gather in the Bwshes at the side of my garden they nest under the logs there.
The plants in my Garden are healthy and waterd regularly By all the lovely rain we get in redruth.
The plants are a bay tree, Bluebells, a holly bush, a pine tree that we use as a christmas tree and dafidils. Some creachers gather behind the shed sutch as worms, beetles and slugs. Also we have a tramp-ileene in our Garden that we put out in the summer
Well thats all I have tim for I’d like to thank you for being a Briliant Audiunce and I hope you enjoy my speek out.

He practiced from the top of the stairs and sent me into the living room.
This was so he could practice his projection but had the happy benefit of meaning I could lie down with a blanket over my head, occasionally shouting “Yes” “Louder” or “Very Good” and it still counted as quality parenting.

Before going in today I wished him luck.

Prole1: Thanks Dad. I will do my best. I don’t really think I will win, I will try my best and try to enjoy it though. It should be good. It should be good. I just…the trophy does look really good though.

His face when he pulled it out of his bag to show me will stay with me forever.

Prole2 came out of class with a picture for me.
Daffodils with tall stems, painted on card.

When the Proles were taking their coats off Prole2 explained to his brother.

Prole2: It’s a Mothers’ Day card. For Dads.

It is lovely and pinned to the wall.
On the back it says “I luv yo Dad’

I know.

But if you think the spelling is bad, you should see the handwriting.

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Prole2’s teacher and I had a meeting today.
This is nothing out of the ordinary, it is just that time of year.

Me and Prole1 went along, Prole2 was at science club.
He was somewhere in the school putting Mentos into bottles of Coke.
Strange to think that he is being taught to do what he may get told off for doing at secondary school.

Have you ever put a Mento in a full bottle of Coke?
Give it a try one day, preferably outside.

Anyway, while Prole2 was covering the playground in sugar solution, me and Prole1 sneaked in another door to talk about him.

We met in the library, Prole1 was all a quiver that he was allowed to sit in the teacher’s chair.
Apparently, so he told us, he had never been allowed in the chair before, not ever in his life, no matter how often he asked.
He sat on the chair and stared down at the rug he used to sit on to listen to stories.
He wriggled with joy and then went on tending the Smurf Village he has been building on my phone.
He is under strict instructions not to plant certain crops in the game as they take a long time to grow.
You are alerted to fruition by an alarm.

Me: Did you plant Blackberries in your Smurf Village?

Prole1: Yes, Papa Smurf told me to. If I do it then Brainy surf will get Jokey Smurf’s punchline.

Me: When did you plant them?

Prole1: Just before tea time yesterday. They take about twelve hours to grow.

Me: Yes they do. What time would they be ready?

Prole1: Just before tea time today?

Me: No, think about it.

Prole1: Bed time? Just after tea? While we are having a bath? No, it should be the same time. Just before tea.

Me: How many hour in a day?

Prole1: Twelve. Every one knows that.

There is a long silence.

Prole1 looks at his fingers and quickly does some counting.

Prole1: I am sorry Dad.

Me: Yes, please don’t do it again.

Prole1: No, I won’t, sorry.

Me: That’s ok.

Prole1: Were you asleep?

Me: Very.

Prole1: Sorry.

A short pause.

Prole1: Ummm…did you…did you harvest them?

You can see the problem, what with me keeping my phone on the bedside table and all.
I love him but I was unable to explain exactly what I was thinking and doing when my alarm went off at 4am.

Anyhow the teacher and I sat down to talk.
I know it is a school but surely there are at least two chairs in the building that are adult sized?
With Prole1 in the only adult sized chair in the room the options were limited.

I sat down on a chair designed for a four to seven year old.
I instantly felt really uncomfortable and wanted to leave.

I never really liked sitting on those tiny chairs.
I went to four different schools between the ages of five and ten and I sort of equate them with feeling like an outsider.
Nothing like being in your mid forties and squeezing on to one to disempower you.

The teacher asked if I had any questions.

I had no questions.

She seemed incredulous at this and returned to it a couple of times during the meeting.
I began to think I should have some questions.
What should I ask?

She talked about how his writing could be better.
She suggested that when we write sentences together I should concentrate his work on neatness, finger spacing and constructing letters properly.

I nodded to show I understood.
I frowned slightly to show I was thinking about it.
I sort of part agreed, part laughed and part grunted in agreement.

Then I had to admit to her that we never write sentences together.

She smiled, nodded and looked at me in an understanding way.
It was still a look a bit like one would give if I had admitted I stab guinea pigs for fun but it was understanding.

She said she knew it was difficult to fit everything in.

I smiled and tried to look careworn.
I am good at this since I turned 40 but the effect was marred by me sitting in a teeny tiny seat.

Here I shall be honest about the writing, I can fit it in.
I have plenty of time.
I just never thought of doing it.
If someone had said we would have been doing it for years.

We do reading books every day.
We do the spelling sheets.
We do the sounding out sheets.
We read a bed time story together.

Why have I never been told about writing sentences with my kids?
What else don’t I know?
What else are all the other parents doing?
Is there a series of secret memos going round I know nothing about?

Was I just supposed to absorb this stuff by osmosis?
Does everyone do this and I don’t?

I felt very small in my teeny tiny chair.

I stared down at Prole2’s work book.

There was a picture of three figures on a cliff.
The big one with a smile, the middle sized one with a frown and glasses and the small one with crazy hair and a smile.
‘Botalic’ it said.

Botallack.
On a sunny day when we had gone to visit the place where Laura’s heart was buried.
The boys play in the old brick furnace tunnels there.

It is not about me in my teeny tiny chair.
It is about the Proles and wether or not they are ok.

Me: Is he ok?

Teacher: Oh yes, he is ok.

It will all come out in the end.
I have more to worry about with Prole2 than whether or not he writes with me.
We will start writing and we will continue and we will fail and we will do it all again.
Just like everything else.

 

I am so pleased he drew such a sunny picture of us all.

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The letter from Prole2’s teacher says he is going to get sex and relationship lessons soon.

I did not get sex education lessons when I was small.

I found everything out on the day I found a particularly elaborate prophylactic by the side of the road and being very pleased at my new found ‘balloon’.

I have never seen one quite like it since.

It was unused, in case you were worried.

Anyway, this sparked a quick and very precise conversation about reproduction which careered through the main issues in order to illustrate why I was not allowed to take it in the house, blow it up and/or take it to school to show my friends.

I never got ‘relationship’ lessons though.

I wonder if that is just a word they use these days to sweeten the pill of biology lessons in Primary Education or if they actually do teach about relationships.

It’s a tricky area.
I couldn’t teach about relationships.
Seems a bit broad.

What makes a good relationship?
I feel daunted by the subject.
Clearly I lacked guidance when I was at Primary School.

The other day Prole1 learned about Civil Partnerships.
I thought I had the subject pretty much locked down in my head but explaining the current situation surrounding Gay marriage in Britain is a mine field.
I have been trying to tease out the knotty subject of religion with him and am trying very hard to let him make his own mind up.

Prole1: So the first Gay marriage was in 1601?

Me: What?

Prole1: The first Gay marriage was in 1601. Why was it made not right? Why did people stop it?

Me: What?

Prole1: You know.

I didn’t.

Prole1: When men marry men.

Me: 1601? Really?

Prole1: Yes. I think so. A long time ago. Was it the Government that stopped it?

Me: Ummm…I’d have to look, it was probably them or the Church….

Prole1: Why would the Church do that?

Me: I am just cooking, can we talk about this later?

Later.
When I have had time to google the hell out of it and write down some bullet points.
I sort of need Stephen Fry and the Cannon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral in the room when we discuss it.
I always felt they would get on, despite apposing views in some areas.
I bet they both like the same puddings.

Prole1 is wrong about 1601 by the way.
Well, technically he is wrong, it happened in Spain not Britain.

And yes, I had to google that.

I could tell him what I think but my views are crushingly secular on this subject and others.
I can’t really talk about it all without getting cross.

I just hope Prole2’s lessons in relationships focus on the idea that most people are nice, respect should be given, that you can, if you try, be friends or friendly to almost every single person you meet and that love is something that chooses you, not the other way round.
I hope the lessons have nice pictures as well.

I was preparing the ground by trying to locate The Usborne Book of Where Babies Come From.

I have not seen it for a couple of months, it is one of those well thumbed publications that Prole1 read over and over, mostly for the nice pictures.
Prole1 keeps his books on top of the wardrobe.
He can reach them from the top bunk where he sleeps but I have to get a bathroom chair and stand on it.
From the chair, on tip toes, I can just see the top of the wardrobe.
The idiosyncratic way Prole1 ‘stacks’ his books means that inadvertent shifting of the stack could cause a book slide straight at you, at eye level.
If they miss your eyes you have to do the ‘don’t-hit-my-feet’ dance as hardbacks crash on to the chair.
Softback House At Pooh Corner is fine, hardback Harry Potter And The Order Of the Phoenix is a different toe crushing matter.

Prole1 watched with complete disinterest as I tried to make sense of his filing system.

I turned over a Secret Seven and found some folded pieces of paper.

On the front were the words: Alphabet Verson 2

Me: What is this?

Prole1: Oh, yes, I have worked out the whole alphabet in Dwarvish Ruins.

Me: Runes?

Prole1: Runes. Yes. I got them all from the Hobbit.

Prole1 has been given a leather bound hard backed copy of the Hobbit by the rockfather.
They sat together deciphering the first few letters of the Dwarvish Alphabet.
Prole1 has been sitting up the last two nights and has worked out the whole Alphabet.

Me: All of them?

Prole1: Yes, you have to go through the whole book and find them. Did you know there is no letter Q in dwarfish? You can use the ruins for C and W to make the sounds. I hope to copy this all up in best and then I will write the whole thing out in Dwarvish with and English translation instead of English with a Dwarvish translation. That will be Version Three.

Me: Right…

Would it have been tactless to suggest that he learn to spell in English first?

Can’t he learn Cornish? Or Mandarin?

I feel I should encourage him to learn a foreign language but should it be a dead language like Dwarvish?
And I mean dead in the sense that THE DWARVES OF TOLKEIN WERE NEVER ALIVE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I looked at his writing, wobbly and uneven.
Every rune was copied out though and every one of them looked like a rune.

Me: It’s brilliant. Really brilliant.

Prole1: Thanks Dad.

I dug out The Usborne Book Of Where Babies Come From.

It has great pictures.

Half the battle is not what you learn but that you enjoy doing it.

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Earlier today Prole2 had got a  bit upset.

For some reason he had a very mild panic attack going in to school.

This sort of thing happens when you are at primary school, the world is a big place.
It’s fairly large when you are forty-three as well so heaven knows what it is like to be small.

He got over it very quickly, again, like you do when you are small but it came as a surprise.

It is unusual behaviour and my parent senses were tingling.
Upset for no reason.
This tends to herald in some kind of illness.

Sometimes you can watch children just run out of energy, stagger slightly and then flop over sideways. Ill.

I remember when Prole1 was just learning how to walk and he started to run a temperature.
He was like a huge, short sighted, butter bean in those days, all round like a big Teddy Bear.

I tried to cool him down but he just wanted to sleep, preferably on me.
He also went all floppy and listless.

It is terrible to admit but I had a brilliant day. He was all cuddly and poorly, I got to make a fuss of him, I had time off work and he stayed wherever I put him.
He was utterly undemanding and I got to catch up on loads of sleep.

Naturally I was worried sick as well, just having a great day at the same time.

Prole2 was all skinny and boney but he would often announce his illness:

Prole2: Dad…I am floppy….

And then falling down on the sofa.

For the most part illnesses have been limited to the sort of thing treatable with Calpol and a day on the sofa.
Prole2 loves a day on the sofa, with a duvet and the telly on.
He spent a day like this recently and after he had perked up a bit we visited friends.
They asked Prole1 if he would like a day on the sofa instead of going to school?

Prole1: Oh no, I would not like that, I love school. I love work. I would work all day with no breaks, just a snack for lunch. I love school.

One of the essential differences between my sons.

Calpol is a safety net, I am always worried it will go beyond the easily administered home medicine.

We did all catch a nasty gastric flu bug once.

It was fairly spectacular really.

We sort of moved round the house using up linen, towels and rugs until at one point all three of us were in the bathroom. I had removed almost everything except two beds on the floor made of towels.
Between my own ‘sessions’ I would take another load of stuff down to the washing machine, load up the dryer at the same time, pick up some more fluids for us all and go back up stairs.
Actually most of the time I would take a break half way up the stairs for some heavy breathing and a bit of perspiring and then get back to it.

At just the point I thought I would have to call in the cavalry (which is to say, call someone who would be able to help but who intern would then catch something nasty) Prole1 sat up and asked for grapes.

On that occasion the bug had the decency to be mild and to only stick around for twenty four hours.

There is, for those of you who live in Cornwall at the moment, a nasty bug going round again so my heart sank when Prole2 started acting weirder.

When he came out of school he looked a bit happier than when he went in but he still gave me an extra long hug.
Not totally odd but different enough.

At Pizza Club tonight he mentioned that he was not afraid of dying and, not wanting to start an existential discussion that I may not be able to finish I steered him back to the pizza.

Getting ready for bed I decided to do a little digging.

Me: You were upset this morning.

Prole2: What?

Me: Were you upset this morning?

Prole2: Yes. I wanted to cuddle and stay with you.

Me: Right, I saw that. Were you ok at school?

Prole2: What?

Me: Were you ok at school?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: OK, I was a bit worried.

Prole2: Well, my shoe fell off.

Me: Is that why you were upset?

Prole2: NOooo. I was upset when they laughed at me.

Me: This morning?

Prole2: At Assembly.

Me: Oh.

Proel2: And I had a burger.

Me: What?

Prole2: A burger. For lunch.

I felt we were heading a little off track.
Actually I did not know where we were.

Me: Oh I see, I was worried you were thinking about dying. Because you said so at Pizza Club.

Prole2: No. I am not afraid of dying because I will be…you know…up there…

He waved an arm at the light shade.

Me: I see.

Prole2: At least if you are up there you will be ok and you can walk about and jump and stuff.

Me: That sounds good.

Prole2: Yes, if you are bad you go down there and…well…no running….

Me: Ummm…what is down there?

Prole2: You know. Buried. Under the ground. In a box. You can’t jump.

Me: No I suppose you can’t.

Prole2: I will be up there.

Prole2 waved at the light shade again. We all looked up.

Prole1: Where?

Prole2: There.

Me: Do you mean heaven?

Prole2: Where you go when you are good.

Me: And you are good.

Prole2: Yes. I am annoying. But I am good.

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I could have gone to see Lee Scratch Perry tonight.

Lee Scratch Perry is the producer who originally mixed all of Bob Marley and the Wailers famous tracks.
He ran the incredible Studio called The Ark and created some of the most innovative music and techniques used in early Reggae and Dub.
He continues to make great music.

He has also been known to wear bladderack sea weed in his dreads and a toaster on his head.
The Wailers sued him for ripping off their music, he burned down his studio and was seen walking backwards through his home town hammering the ground on the day of the arson.

He was a bit bonkers and I have no reason to believe he has changed.

Sounds like it might have been a brilliant gig.

Anyway, I nearly went.
Or rather I poked my head above the parental parapet and thought ‘That is the sort of thing I used to love doing’.

And then I thought it might be a bad thing to do.

I can’t really explain why.

Most of the time me and the Proles function as a trio.

We walk about together, we look at things and we move them around.

One of us will see something they think is interesting and show it to the other two.

We will all look at it.
We talk about it.

We move on.

I have some extra duties in this metaphor that include making sure no one gets squashed, feeding us all and clearing up the metaphorical or reality based poop.

We work well as a team.

As three.

If I am honest, there are many things they are not interested in.
Having watched me do the washing, cooking, occasional cleaning, gardening and minor DIY they are stupendously un interested in any of these things.
If I do something new, however, they appear like wide eyed Midwitch children, stares boring into my soul.
They  used to watch me speak on the phone.
It would ring and before it had been picked up they would emerge from the wood work and just watch me.

I would try walking around the house but they would follow, staring at me.

I would be forced to break off whatever I was saying and tell them to go and find something else to do and leave me alone.

This would invariably result in some kind of fight between them.
I have no idea why they could get along fine for hours at a time but as soon as my attention was on the BT call centre and not on the washing up they dissolved into anarchy and fighting.
They still do this.

It is worse when a real physical person is there, in the room, talking to me.
They can’t really handle it unless I put on the telly or set fire to something to distract them.
People must think my kids are attention seeking lunatics.
Honestly, they are really dull and boring when other people are not around.
They mooch about looking at lego and eating pears.

As soon as someone else turns up they become a cross between ‘Laurel and Hardy’ and ‘Binky and the Brain’ with a complete lack of emotional control for good measure.

It is really tiring.

If I wanted to win £50,000 by making my children cry without touching them, looking at them or using any emotional pressure at all I would just start a conversation with another adult.
That seems to do it every time.

It is not so surprising I suppose.

In out trio I am not supposed to break off and discover new things without sharing with them.
Even if those new things are just idle chat about weather and the price of broccoli.

I see it happen with parents all the time, I suppose I notice it a lot because my two states of being are ‘work’ or ‘with kids’.

I don’t really do the ‘spare time’ thing much.

Spare time is all about the self,your sense of self identity.
Exploring music, food, strange parts of town, other people, ideas and feelings.

This is the stuff that gave me an identity, that defined my ‘self’.

I am also aware that these days ‘spare time’ lives right along side ‘selfish’.

I don’t mind ‘selfish’ really. Or to be precise, because there is a difference, ‘self centred time’. A work friend was recently was telling me how much they needed a holiday. I think they were right, they needed some time with them self. Some time centred around them self. Self centred time.

It is not such a bad thing as language and culture would have us believe.
We may invent new words for it like ‘me time’ to dress t up a bit but tending yourself, your centre, this is important stuff in our culture.

The Proles don’t really know that is what I am doing.
They just want to be there, be in it, experience it too.
And I don’t want them to.
I want them to go away and leave me alone to do my adult ‘me time’ stuff.

And they have no idea why I would be so selfish.

I can be level headed about it to a point but at times, when I am actually having a real conversation for the first time in a week that does not involve “Culture and the Arts Movement and it’s Impact on the Dispersed Communities of the Region” or “Lego” and one of the Proles decides this is a good time to start head butting me I can go quite incandescent inside.

And this is the odd question.
If I don’t take ‘me time’, if I do little that is ‘self centred’, if I expend a minimum amount of time thinking about my ‘self’ then me and the Proles argue less.
I have less of a feeling of injustice.
I am less bitter about my life and my inability to do whatever I want.

If I give all that up, live a quiet life, don’t go out, work hard and keep my head down, it all works out.

If I try to go out, live a little luxury, spend time with other people and indulge myself a bit, me and the Proles shout at each other more, I get depressed and it stops being fun.

I would love to go out more.
But then we would have less money.

I would love to go on holiday.
But what would I do without them?

I would love to have more adult conversation.
But then I would have to face the fact that I have become a bit of a recluse over the last five years.
This is the tricky bit.
I would have to confront my inability to think of anything to say during small talk.
I would have to surpress my deep love of sofas and Professional Wrestling and engage with people.
I would have to look at my hands and think that the last time I went out regularly like this was twelve years ago, before I had the excuse of the Proles to stay in and before Loz propped me up and made me whole.

Because these days an adult conversation that does not involve kids or work is such an unusual thing that I don’t know what to say any more.
I don’t know how to be my self.

Having said all that I hate being defined through my children.
Surely I am more than that?
Surely I am more of a person, more my self than that?

Perhaps I have just put my ‘self’ away for a bit, just until the tricky bit of grieving and child rearing is over.

Once the kids have grown up and I can listen to more than the first three bars of ‘Moon River’ without dissolving into the foetal position in a pool of tears I am sure I will be ready to get my ‘self’ back out there.

Where was I?

Lee Scratch Perry being bonkers.

It would be good to go out more but it is easier and less emotional if I don’t.

This exploration of the self is not something I enjoy.

I prefer the safety of us three.

I am as lost as the Proles when they are not around.

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We made a plan to go swimming today.

Swimming is a mildly traumatic experience as a single parent. Lone Parent. Sole Caregiver.
Whatever label.

It’s tricky as a Dad on your own.

No one ever mentions the temperature.
It is warm in the swimming pool changing area.
And crowded.

There is a slow scuffle for a changing room that is slightly too small and the horrible ‘One Man And His Dog’ moment tot trying to get the Proles, who always appear to have lost any sense of urgency or direction, in to the cubicle.

And you are getting hot because you are carrying swimming gear for three.
And you are still wearing your coat because taking it off takes space and time and you have not had either and you know if you stop the Proles will stand in the middle of a corridor or passage way and half naked people will be trying to get past them.

And you get into a cubicle and the Proles don’t seem to grasp that you need to get in as well and you have to issue instructions.
And you are still heating up because you have your coat on.
So you know the Proles are heating up and a hot Prole is an unhappy Prole.

So you ask them to take their coats off and put them on the bench and one does and the other puts his coat in a puddle so you tell him to pick it up so he ‘moves’ his brother’s coat out of the way by putting it in the puddle he has just removed his own coat from.

And with three of you in there, there is no where to put the bag, except in the puddle.
Which you do, because you have to take your coat off because you are boiling.

And by the time you get your coat off and hung up there are one and a half pairs of Prole socks in the puddle too.
And you all three try to get changed together without knocking each other over.

I can do the ‘swimming trunks under trousers’ thing for a quick change but following a couple of big, loud, traumatic ‘accidents’ over the last few years I make sure the Proles change into trunks at the pool.
I can’t really go into details.
On one occasion I had to throw the trunks away, it was that bad.
That’s all I am saying.

So I have a plastic swimming bag to counter the puddle and I take a spare for the Proles to chuck clothes in.
And there is the minor stress of fitting three lots of clothes, coat and shoes into one small locker.
I could do two but then you have two of those daft ‘key on a broken watch strap’ things on your arm.

But it’s lovely once you are in isn’t it?

Except today we could not get near the pool because the ‘Race For Life’ was on and the road to the pool was closed.

The pool was open to anyone who could haul themselves all the way up the hill carrying children and swimming gear.
I was not too sure about it because of the tired, grumpy, ‘where’s my lunch and why do I have to walk’ return trip to the car but fortunately I had completely forgotten the swimming bag with all the towels and costumes.

It was next to the door when we got back home.

The rest of the day sort of unravelled as I had apologetic textual intercourse with all the people I had arranged to meet at the pool.

A friend took pity on us and too us home, fed us and sent us on our way but Prole2 was really upset and has been asking ever since when we are going back.

He is ‘turning a corner’ with his swimming and with so much in the house being about Prole1 I really wanted to keep things going for him.

He is fine and hardly ever complains and is very happy to go with the flow but today he wanted to swim and today he was let down.

Prole1 is very forthright and will suggest plans, negotiate and revise schedules. He likes to have objectives and a timetable. He is happy to discuss this with me at any time. He is happy to discuss this with complete strangers at any time.
The basic rule is that if you ask, ask nicely, and Dad can’t think of a good reason to refuse, then you can get what you want.

Prole2 hardly ever asks.
He asked today.
He has been sadly asking if we can go back all day.

I have promised him we can.

I am not keen on swimming but I want the boys to be able to swim so we go soften as we can.

I would actually go right now. In all the confusion I am still wearing my trunks and the Proles are in bed.

Polyester next to the skin all day.

I might just go and have a shower….

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I am hiding from the cat.

Sometimes at the end of the day, when I finally get the Proles off to bed, I sit down with a big sight and the cat jumps on to my lap.
Then it goes round and round in circles, shoving it’s bottom in my face, shredding my dressing gown with its claws.

I sort of want to throw it against the wall and shout “Stop sucking all the love out of me you parasites!” but the RSPCA take a dim view of that and anyway the cats are family or something.

Usually I just take it and wait ten minutes for it to settle, by which time I have to shift a bit because something is going numb somewhere at which point the cat jumps off and then five minutes later repeats the whole thing.

I have to be extra nice to the cat at the moment.
The cat is stressed.
I can tell because it has started pulling it’s fur out again.
We have new cats in the area. I think this is why it has started tearing it’s hair out.

It has done this before, a fifty pence sized bald patch on it’s side.
And its allergic to fleas, I have just de-flea-ed it but not before the tell tale scabs appeared.

That’s right, the cat is neurotic, part bald, scabby and prone to shoving it’s bottom in my face.

And I have to not make it stressed and cheer it up so it can get better.

So I am hiding.

I can’t say I blame it mind, I don’t know why but it has been one of those days.

Prole1 has a couple of bookings coming up for his burgeoning DJ career.

As gimmicks go, being in primary school and being a DJ has worked well.
I keep thinking he is going to get too old and not be cute as a DJ any more but so far he still keeps getting bookings.

He was playing through some odds and ends today.
Mr Brightside by the Killers.
I am often left cold by the Killers’ lyrics but they do make a right old glorious racket and suddenly I was in tears over the cooker.

This had followed a rather emotional trip to the pool.
Prole2 has been slowly, slowly convincing himself to join Surf Life Saving with Prole1.

When Prole1 started I just said “OK, in you go” and in he went.
If he had not wanted to go in he would have said “No thank you, thank you very much for asking” because that is what he says when he does not want something or is transfixed with fear.

Prole2 is a different kettle of fish.

I know swimming is nice once you are in.
I also know that Prole2 needs to convince himself of this.

Me: Do you want to go in?

Prole2: Yes.

Me: Off you go then.

Prole2: I am scared.

Me: Ok, don’t go in.

Prole2: But I want to.

Me: Ok, go in.

Prole2: But I am scared.

Me: You don’t have to go in if you are scared.

Prole2: But I want to go in.

Me: Well go in then, off you go.

Prole2: No Dad, no. I am too scared.

Me: Well…don’t go in or do go in….do something.

Prole2 But I am scared.

This went on for some time and when he finally did go in I had to have a quiet moment to get over it all.
Prole2 gets locked in uncertainty like that.
Prole1 would just get changed again.

I pulled myself together but by then some Mums had sat all around, and in one case on, my towels and coat so I sat at the end orf the row with some small girls doing colouring in. Them not me.

Prole2 walked past a few minutes later, splotch, splotch, splotch in a pair of flippers and a huge grin.
I was off again he looked so happy.

We finally got home and after ten months of asking we finally bought ‘Lilo and Stich’ and sat on the sofa to watch it.
Disney, not afraid to kill a parent or two at the start of the film to get you on side.

I should have known I would go again I suppose, ‘Toy Story 3’ hits the Achillies heel every time and even ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ has it’s moment.

I sat there sniffing on the bean bag while my scabby cat mauled more threads out of my dressing gown.

Prole2 has joined the Surf Life Savers.
I am so proud.

Excuse me.