Archives for posts with tag: toddler

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While the Proles were at school I got the cuddly toys down from the loft.

In actual fact it was four bin liners full of cuddly toys.

Four bin liners full.

These are not the current population of the bedroom.

At present the cuddly toy level in both the Proles’ beds is pushing maximum density.

Prole1 has his in neat rows at one end of the bed, compressed into a block in height order, Winnie the Pooh at the back, the Hatty-fatners      at the front.

Prole2 swims in a soup of soft toys, tangled up in dalmations, monkeys, rabbits ducks and bears.

I have to sweep them aside when I put him to bed.
They spill across the floor and I occasionally find infestations of them behind the sofa or in a kitchen cupboard.
They lie helpless on the floor, staring glassy eyed at me as I try to sort the washing.
They appear in ones and twos, scattered down the stairs.
The cats make nests in them.

I always try to know the whereabouts of the Alpha toys, Eeyore and Teddy.
The rest are a plush, fun fur and fabric plague that could be anywhere at any time.
Tripping me up.
Getting stuck under doors.
Being trodden on.
Getting covered in what ever that grey fluffy stuff is under the sofa.

There is a certain amount of guilt that comes with all this.

I remember being six years old and trying to wish my toys into life.
I remember Peter Pan telling me never to grow up and promising myself through tears that I never would.
I remember Kermit the Frog singing that song about Rainbows and thinking “Yes Kermit, YOU speak for ME”.

And yes, I am a forty three year old man, but that was what I was formed out of.
Sentimentality does run through me.
I do have a squashy middle.

Not so much mind.
I remember when the building I was working in became a nesting place for pigeons and I was asked to clear them out.
The rest of the crew were supremely unhelpful so I ended up on my own.
Londoners hate pigeons.
This is well known and well documented.
‘Flying Rats’ is how they are often described.
Vermin.
In fact they are no more or less diseased than any other ‘urban animal’.
The population explosion of pigeons coincided with the post war Fast Food boom.
This was when Londoners stopped eating them and started hating them.

Being from Cornwall and living in or near the countryside most of my life  I approached the problem in a no nonsense manner.
The building had vermin.
My old geography teacher told us about vermin in his shed, he said that the best place to drown rats was in the sceptic tank.
It was a horrible job but it had to be done.
I cleared all the nests into a large cardboard box and, in the absence of a sceptic tank, tipped them all out into the Thames.

The Production Manager just stared at me.

Production Manager: You did what with them?

Me: I threw them in the river.

Production Manager: I said get rid of them, I didn’t mean…I meant….

He never finished the sentence, I have often wondered what he thought I was going to do with a box of pigeon nests.
Re-home them in Trafalgar Square I suppose.

The crew, made up of big people with bald heads and tattoos, barely said a word to me for the rest of the day.
Not all the nests had been empty.
Apparently this was considered bad form.

Anyway, it was with brutality like this in my heart that I mounted the ladder to the loft and pulled the bags down.

I grabbed a really big canvas laundry bag with a zip top.
I emptied the bin liners onto the floor and began stuffing them in fist fulls to the bottom of the bag.

I knew if I kept on going and really pushed them down I could get them all in.

These are the retired cuddly toys.
These were found in corners after weeks of being alone.
These were left in friends’ houses and forgotten.
These were cleared from the floor of the bedroom, corralled in shopping bags under the stairs until there were no more questions before being smuggled into the loft at night.
These were the ‘inconvenient’ toys, noisy, loud or not quite ‘fitting in’.
These were the toys from years of “everyone is a winner” tom bolas in town, interlopers that were rounded up within days of arriving and disappeared.

There were friends in here too.

Girraffey.
Possibly the worst named toy in the house.

Blue Dad.
Named after me.

Buzz Buzz.
The Bee. Probably. Might be a wasp. Or a kind of fish. I am not making that up.

Bananas the orangutang.

Those three Aliens we bought from that hopelessly trendy children’s boutique in Peckham.
Idiots.

Polar Bear 3
Not quite as popular as Polar Bears 1 and 2.

Max the Parrot.
A good friend in the early days.

The Cuddly Rastafarian.
The one that played “Don’t Worry be happy” when you squeezed his bottom.

The Kiwi.
It is hard to make a Kiwi cuddly, this designer had failed like so many others.

Nemo.
The fish that looked a bit like a character from ‘Finding Nemo’ but wasn’t.

Green Bear.
Smells like lavender. Why?

There were snakes, monkeys, endless bears, elephants, fish, parrots and more.
A menagerie of fluff.

So I stuffed them all down in the bag and I tried to get the song “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from the film Toy Story out of my head.

When Loz died the boys were given toys.
Lots and lots of toys.
Cuddly toys were great, both Proles regressed into more juvenile behaviour.
Soft blankets, lots of cuddles, snuggling on the sofa and tucked in with cuddly toys were the sorts of thing they bot responded to well.
I read that on a Widowers’ website.
I tried to make it happen a lot and the landslide of cuddly toys that arrived in the next eighteen months were great for that.

Tucking the boys up in bed, with a favourite toy was part of our ritual.

But the Proles are bigger now and those bin bags have been up there for over a year.

Time to go.

No time to be sentimental.

I will take them to the Proles’ old nursery this week.
I have seen Toy Story 3 as well but, as I say, I have no time to be sentimental.

 

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One of the nicest things I do with the Proles is the rolling display of ‘art’ around the house.

During an office move there were a series of picture frames that were up for grabs so with no real thought behind it I nabbed them.

Now every once in a while I take some of the landslide of ‘art’ the boys bring home and put it in the frames.

The frames are relatively large when compared to A4 paper so often one picture will act as a back drop for another or images will montage slightly as I cram them in to fill up the frame.

Being low on critical faculties the Proles don’t mind this so much.

Sometimes I need a little help in curation.

Prole1’s “picture of active sloth’ was presented in conjunction with ‘harbour scene’.
In itself  this was not considered a problem, after all, as Prole1 pointed out, they were both fairly brown.
The problem occurred in that the ‘harbour scene’ went into the frame the wrong way up.
Following the minute detailing of the image and the original intention by the artist I took it down, took the picture out, got distracted by the washing, went back and placed the picture upside down again.

Prole1 patted my hand.

Prole1: If you like it that way up Dad, you keep it that way up.

Then he kissed my forehead and went to spread patronising joy to the rest of the house.

In the hallway there is a small rectangular hole in the wall, this is where the door handle used to go when the door was opened fully.
Nowadays the door is double glazed plastic and I don’t think they really considered the architecture of Redruth when they constructed it.
The hole is no longer used and so we put a small picture frame around it and use it as a temporary display case for small sculptures and more three dimensional pieces.

It is no Tate Turbine Hall but the Proles can on occasion exceed all expectations.
“All the green lego” was a challenging installation, ‘my clay crocodile’ was a  psychedelic  exhibit and we are seeing the return of ‘snail money box’ by Prole2 at the moment.
There is a small piece of paper in there with his name on.

Prole2: So people know I did it.

Me: Great, why is there a picture of a castle on the paper?

Prole2: Extra art. More fun.

Me: Oh, yes of course.

The celebration of their ‘artwork’ is in a way to salve my own conscience.
As I have said elsewhere, ‘art’ comes in through the door at an alarming rate.

What to do with this landslide of mutilated paper and card is a real dilemma.

The Proles put heart and soul into their work, they can tell you all the tiny details of the process and their thinking.
This can be useful most of the time because it is hard to see if any thinking were part of the process at all.

They bring this stuff home and say things like: Here you go Dad, I did this specially for you.

And I can see in their eyes that I am holding their dream. A dream that this piece of work will make me happy. That this picture, dawned in paint and slightly crumpled, will in some way make my life complete.

I have seen the sort of thing they get me for Christmas, even with a chaperone, they have no idea what I might like.
But it is written all over their faces that they think, or rather believe with every quivering fibre of their being, that I love this stuff.

What to do when you hold so many dreams?

Well, not so much hold as stuff them under the stairs.
We have so much ‘art’ under the stairs a fire officer would have a fit.
Fortunately it is so thick with paint and glue I believe it may be th last thing to go up if the house burns down.

What to do?

There is a slow process of ‘retirement’, as you would imagine, but I am nervous of the shattered dream.

I am being glib about this of course but I do love it all as well.
The bright eyes as they talk about the current piece and they la it out o the table for me to look at.
It is wonderful.

But I can’t keep it all. I can’t really keep even a fraction of what they bring home.

My house is stuffed with so much of the past I cannot really afford to keep much more.

I have to clear back for the future.

I have to be brutal with painted pictures, squash clay models, tiny trousers, forgotten toys, worn out shoes, little tiny gloves, faded t shirts and first bicycles.

I don’t have tiny weeny little boys any more.
Riding the leading edge of their growth is like surfing on the front of an emotional wave, I have to be responsive and keep up or I will go under.

I have to take moments and images and artefacts where I can but leave the path clear for the future.
It is a small collection but it tis a vital one.
I am not just being sentimental.

I could clear it all out of course but then if they ceased to be for any reason, how could I ever get it back?

How will I know they were here?

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Several exciting deliveries.
A new operating system for this computer.

Why won’t the italics turn off? Why is everything in bold?

It is doing nothing for the mood I am in.

Today the new shoes arrived.

When I went into a high street shoe shop up Truro and got the Proles feet measured but left without actually buying anything  the staff gave me wry, knowing and mildly pursed smiles.

I had been blatantly showrooming.



 

Showrooming is where you go into a shop, look at or try on items or clothing and then leave, go home and buy them off the internet.



I have friends who work in retail.
I don’t know what to say except the world is moving and when you have a part time job and two kids you have to move with it.

 

I don’t do this a lot and I certainly think it is risky with shoes.


All is well if they arrive, they are the right shoes, they are the right size and they don’t leave your children with deformed feet for the rest of their lives.



 

But the reward, in this case, was that I got shoes at a third the price I could have got them in the shop.


A third.



 

I do sort of feel dirty, the high streets across Britain are dying and we should be trying to support them if we can.


 

However I can buy the same shoes as I can get from a nation wide retailer at a fraction of the price.



 

I was ready to send the shoes back but they are really very good.



Bargain.



 

No moral high ground at all but bargain.

I got home with the Proles and I pulled the shoes out of my bag.

Me: Here, try these on.

Prole1: Oh, right, Brilliant. Ok.

Prole2: What are they?

Me: They are shoes. Here, try them on.

He took them off me and held them in front of him.
He stared at them like they were a pair of dead seagulls.

Prole2: What are they?

Me: They are new shoes.

Prole2: What for?

Me: For you to try.

Prole2: I don’t understand.

I was laughing a bit and Prole1 was smiling.
Prole2 looked at me in disgust.

Prole2: What are these?

Me: They are a pair of shoes. For you to try on. If they fit you can keep them as your shoes.

Prole2: What?

Me: Just try them on.

Prole2: Why am I doing this?

Me: Because they might be your new shoes.

Prole2: What?

Me: Just try them on for me.

Prole2: I really don’t understand. I will do it but I think it is silly.

And then I heard the slight catch in his voice.
It was the way he sometimes talks to his friends in the play ground.
It is the way he sometimes talks to Prole1 when he really wants to push his buttons.
I looked at him.
He was standing there, not putting the shoes on and staring at me like I was an idiot.

He was eyeballing me.

I learned that from An Officer And A Gentleman.
I did not really understand it at the time but it is a thing people do.

My tiny little boy was eyeballing me.
He was being the quintessence of disrespect condensed into the body of a small child.
Suddenly he looked vile

He is young.
Really young.
He is testing boundaries.
He is finding out the rules.

I know all this because I live with him.

I also know that I suddenly wanted to send him spinning across the kitchen.

I have never hit the Proles.

I really hope I never do.

I know other people hit their kids.
I just don’t hit the Proles.

Every now and then they do make me really angry.
I can squash most emotion down most of the time but it does boil over some times.

During the ‘terrible twos’ when Prole2’s emotions were all over the place, he was throwing one of his more unreasonable tantrums, which in turn meant that we could not go out and meet friends.

We were running late and when Prole1 heard this he began to cry as well.

There are only three of us, I might have been able to calm him down and get him out the door but I also had to wrangle Prole1 as well.
Even if we made it to the park there was no guarantee we could do this without a relapse or a double explosion from them both.

I would have to spend the time monitoring them and keeping a lid on things which would mean I could not have an adult conversation for more than a couple of minutes.

This also did not even begin to take into consideration the fact that I did not want to be anywhere near either of them by this point.

Prole2 had lost it completely and was screaming “NO!” in my face.

I could feel my hands go cold and my knuckles begin to tingle.
Everything started moving slowly.

I remembered feeling exactly this way during a particularly testosterone filled day working with a crew in London.
A big guy kicked off a bit.

He was much bigger than me.
Sometimes you hire crew for their size.
If you need a huge pile of heavy things moved form one place to another then sometimes you need a Brute Squad.

Big men who work cash in hand often have mixed feelings about being given instructions.

This guy had been playing up all day and things finally came to a head when he tried to push through me instead of walking round.

I remember thinking that I was not going to back down, I was not going to get out of his way and I was prepared to face it out.

It ended with some pushing and shoving and being pulled apart from each other in a vaguely unremarkable way, like so many testosterone fuelled moments.

It sticks in my mind because I just don’t do that very often.

I really don’t.

I hate confrontation.

The next male that made me feel that way was my two year old son.

That is when I learned to put myself on the Naughty Step.

I have not felt that way since but I do get worked up sometimes and the Proles know that if I am on the Naughty Step they should probably go and play with lego somewhere.

But today I was being eyeballed and somehow it went straight through me.
I looked at his passive aggressive stance and his pretence at incomprehension.
He wore a slight sneer and he gently started to shake his head as he put the shoes on.

I picked him up, shoes and all and sat him on the stairs.

Me: I am really very angry at the moment.

Prole1: Oh.

Prole2: Oh…dad?

Me: I want you to stay here on the stairs.

I looked at Prole1.

Me: I want you to go and find something to do for a bit.

I thought for a second.

Me: I am going into the living room.

Prole1 went and played with lego in the bedroom.
Prole2 sat on the stairs.
I lay face down on the rug in the living room and tried to gather my thoughts and calm down.

I had to find a way to explain about non-verbal communication, attitude, respect, empathy and general demeanor to someone who has yet to experience the tooth fairy.

Finally I was ready.

Proe2 had transformed back into a curly haired angel.
Little git.

Me: What are these?

Prole2: Shoes.

Me: What do I want you to do with the shoes?

Prole2: Put them on.

Me: Why do I want you to put them on?

Prole2: To see if they fit.

Me: Whose shoes are they?

Prole2: My shoes. If they fit. They are my shoes.

Me: OK. Good. Great. Now move over.

Prole2: Why.

Me: Because I need to sit on the naughty step now.

Prole2: I will go and play with lego.

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I defrosted the freezer.

That’s a job I won’t have to do again for another eight years.

There is a strange sort of archaeology in the defrosting of a freezer.

Mine was not too bad by the way, it was supposed to be ‘frost free’ but I think after so many years it just gave up and took a break.
It is also quite small so the fall out area was contained.

The frost had really taken hold in the last six months.
A slight door malfunction had led to a lot of ice forming.
A slightly cracked drawer was probably to blame and being freed from the ice today meant I could clean and glue and slide everything back into place.

I do not have a hair dryer in the house any more and my fan heater is at work.
Actually my fan heater is now working for Cornwall Council somewhere, kidnapped in a chilly office move so I nicked theirs when they were not looking.
My fan heater is now probably in Truro, rattling away in some office.
I got it in Essex.
Well travelled, that heater.

I was not sure how to speed up the defrosting as the freezer is in the coldest part of the house.

In the end I pulled the tumble dryer out and pointed the vent into the freezer which worked a treat.

The ice melted, most of the water vapour from the dryer condensed in the freezer compartment and the towels dried at the same time.

I was feeling quite good about this small piece of lateral thinking until I saw the fluff that had blown out of the vent hose and all over the inside of my wet and now warm freezer compartment.
It came off easily enough but where it got in between the filaments it stuck, just out of dishwasher brush bristle length.
It looks black and mildewey.
Fluff and the aesthetics aside, it worked quite well.

I cleared out the stuff I could easily get to and waited to see what else would be revealed.
As the ice shelf receded, I found two vegetarian sausages, one fish finger, one frozen Yorkshire Pudding (don’t judge me, they were on special offer) lots of peas and a portion of Lasagne.
I also found the ice cube tray.
We used to make baby food by liquidising vegetables and freezing them in the ice cube tray.
At meal times you could turn out two cubes into a pan, warm them through and serve them up.
It was nice to see it again and be reminded that you cold fit three day’s solid food for one of the Proles in that tray at one time.
The ice cube tray was fortunately not full of baby food.

The Lasagne was quite old.
When Loz died people reacted in different ways.
While I am not really happy to make gender based sweeping statements I have to say that the men and women in my social group reacted in very stark ways.
There were people who talked.
There were people who listened.
There were men who got me drunk.
There were women who cooked me food.

Broadly speaking people fell into these groups if I ever saw them.
The one real exception to this was one of my friends who just mooched around my hose for a few days not saying much, watching telly with the Proles or throwing them around in the back garden and occasionally leaving cups of tea within reach. I am not sure we actually had any sort of conversation at all but it was kind of marvellous really. It was brilliant.

The talkers actually appeared before Loz had died.
On the morning they were to switch off the machines I was in the bed room getting dressed and my phone rang.
I sort of knew it would be a bad idea to answer but at the same time it was such an odd day to prepare for I thought perhaps some normality might help.

The nice lady on the other end of the phone said hello and then disintegrated into floods of tears telling me what a poor man I was on a day like today.
On the face of it I agreed with her but was a tad busy getting ready so I did have to politely cut the conversation short.
Grief is a terrible thing, it is relatively rare in our culture and so often hits people in an unexpected flood.
Most people who talked about it were experiencing shock, awe and panic in various sized doses.
So was I, so I had every sympathy in the world, even if the timing could be questionable.

The listeners were great.
I was experiencing shock, awe and panic and it was nice to try to make sense of it.
I sometimes made sense of it by trying to say it all out loud at once.
Most of the time I kept a bit of a lid on it but every now and then I would lose it completely.
I did feel myself reigning it in a bit when eyes became too wide.

Any how, gender specific reactions….

The men getting drunk thing was kind of to be expected really.
As a man who drank, it was a landscape I understood and I think I would have been the same in their shoes.
Lots of Gin, lots of beer, lots of rum.
I don’t remember us all talking about our feelings much.
Mind you, I don’t remember much.

It is unfair of me to insinuate that all women wanted to cook for me.
They didn’t.
But some did and they brought food round or cooked in my house or invited me to theirs for slightly too much pudding.
On one occasion I had to talk someone out of coming round with the ingredients for a casserole, all three of their children and their dog. It was an incredibly sweet gesture but I am not sure it would have had the desired effect.

I don’t remember any men coming round with a hot pot or similar, only women.
Make of it what you will I suppose but it is a phenomena borne out by the experience of other widowers I have heard from.
I actually started to put on weight.
Whatever the reason, I felt it was quite a primal thing and on occasion really very welcome.

The Lasagne was really lovely, I remember saving the last portion for a special day.
Well, I remember it now, and I remembered at the time, clearly there was a long time in the middle where I did not remember about the Lasagne at all.

I saw it today and I remembered all those people who came round in that first year.

All that time, all that care, all that love.

I never really got to say thank you to those people, thank you for the talking and the listening and the drinking and the food.
I won’t ever be able to tell them what that meant to me.
Because it meant they loved her too.

Anyhow, I threw the Lasagne away.
I am sentimental but there are limits.

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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.
Sorry.)

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Confidence can be a variable thing in my house.

When Prole1 was very small, before Prole2 was around, in fact when he had just learned to walk, we were in a small Co-op in Newlyn.
He found a can of beans and lifted them off the shelf.

Me: What have you got?

Prole1: Beans.

Me: Do you want to buy them?

Prole1: Yeh

Me: OK, here is a pound, go and pay for them at the counter.

Prole1 stumped off down the shop. There was no way he could see over the counter but he managed to get the can of beans up into the bagging area.

Prole1: There you go Man. My got pound.

And he placed the pound coin next to the beans. This being Newlyn in the real world and not a Richard Curtis movie the young lad on the till stared at him like he was a talking wheelclamp or something just as improbable and then did his best to ignore the hard stare he was getting in return.
I would have been quicker to rescue Prole1 if Loz and I had not been giggling at the other end of the shop.

Prole1 has spent most of his life socially bomb proof.
Prole1 would try anything if he thought it was ‘the thing to do’.
He was an awful swimmer, just dreadful, but he squeezed into a wetsuit, put on a surf life saving uniform, grabbed a surfboard four feet taller than himself and hauled it down the beach for his fist surf life saving session.
When he was invited to act as a DJ by a theatre company for the work they were doing in a large Literary festival, Prole1, aged five, hardly blinked.
When it came to the festival itself he walked out onto the stage, spoke clearly into the microphone and played an hour of his favourite tunes.
He has been doing this on and off ever since.

When we are in the house however, he likes to be in the same room as me or Prole2.

Prole2 could not care less which room he is in and left to his own devices I only really see him when he is hungry.
He is not too phased by social situations but only if he is standing just behind Prole1.
Sometimes it is comforting to have a gobby older sibling.

He is currently going through a phase where he regularly gets worried in the night and comes into my room.

Prole1 is the sort of child who can order for himself, check items on the menu for meat content and go up to the counter to purchase extra cakes, drinks and stuff I may have forgotten.
Prole2 is good for getting things out from under the table.

Prole2 has a wide circle of friends and is very happy to take on adventures, imaginary worlds and physical games, as long as he has back up.

Prole2: We are Fighting!

He points to a group of children who he has just left.

Me: Real Fighting?

Prole2: NOOooo! Playing fighting.

Me: Ok. Why did you leave them?

He began rolling up a trouser leg to revael a huge graze that was oozing blood and already starting to run down his leg.

Prole2: I am bleeding too much, It’s all tickly and my trousers are sticking.

Me: Ok. Um. Let me get a wet wipe…um…

Prole2: Yes. Then I will go back to them.

This from the boy who is too scared to flush the toilet because the noise is too scary.

The real shock came from Prole1.
We were in a Penzance cafe and he wanted another drink.
I automatically gave him some money and told him to go and get one.
He Froze.

Prole1: I am scared.

Me: Scared of what?

Prole1: Of asking.

I was about to tell him not to be so silly and get on with it but I looked and I could see he was starting to cry.
Prole2 looked worried.

Prole2: Well I’m not going.

I told them both to sit down and relax and that everything was ok.

As I started to walk towards the counter and tried to work out what had just happened.
As I walked up I realised I was a bit tense.
I took a moment to think about that and it came as a bit of a shock to remember, I have always been a bit nervous about shops, counters, ordering and paying for things.
I pretended to look at the cakes whilst I had a bit of a poke about in my brain.
I remembered that when I was about twelve I could hardly walk into a shop on my own let alone pay for something.
I had squashed this down because, well because you have to as an adult.
It had been squashed down for so many years I had forgotten all about it.
That said I am now forty three and this was no time to revert to childhood.
I rearranged everything back to where it had been in my mind and ordered some apple juice.

I came back to the table with a new found respect for what Prole1 had been able to do, at least up until that point.

He has come back to being a socially confident young man who seems to really enjoy meeting, talking an interacting in a way I find impossible.
I really respect him for that and he is back to being fairly self sufficient.
Most of the time.
Perhaps that scare brought him a bit closer to the world I live in.

Loving your kids is easy, learning form your kids is part of being a parent.
Finding out that your children have talents and resources you don’t is humbling.

It’s a bit annoying that when we sit in a cafe I can’t just automatically send them to the counter.

Sometimes I have to do it all by myself.

I was reminded tonight how big the Proles are getting.

I simultaneously heard of the birth of a friend’s new baby and received an invitation to take the Proles to Berlin.

I suppose all parents are predisposed to think of their children as younger than they are, this is a useful evolutionary safety net that ensures someone is looking out for them even when they are old enough to wilfully not look after themselves.
This also ensures that when you are older ‘home’ is a place that is really nice to visit but somewhere you really could not stay for long.

I fully expect to be accused of smothering my children with over protective love in the future. For now I try to compensate by dressing them in silly clothes and writing about them on the internet.
The other day when we visited the optician’s for Prole1’s six monthly check up Prole2 and I were asked by the shop staff to stop making so much noise.
We were taking it in turns to try ridiculous glasses on Prole1 and then point at him.
Something inside was telling me something about deep emotional scarring and suppressed childhood trauma and that perhaps this was a bad thing but something else was telling me that he just looked Ace in the Peter’s and Lee sunglasses Prole2 found for him.
The assistant came over and asked pointedly if we were all right and if Prole1 had come to a decision about his new frames?

Opposite the opticians on the high street is roughly the place the wheels came off the buggy.
We had a Maclaren style baby buggy.
Don’t believe all the bad press, it’s a design classic and a good one can be operated, opened and closed with a baby under one arm and a car door being propped open with one leg and your car keys in your mouth, you can’t say that about many things.
Prole2 would sit in when he was quite small.
There was a buggy board as well so I would push, Prole2 would sit in front and Prole1 would be on the board between us, his head popping up behind the buggy like a portly tank commander.
He would point to things of interest like a small Blue Badge guide, occasionally waving to people he knew and shouting directions if he felt i needed guidance.

The buggy lasted a couple of years until Prole2 started to out grow it.
They both got heavier and heavier.
Prole1 crushed the buggy board so that it ground on the wheels and acted as brakes whenever he got on.
Off it came.
Prole1 was not best pleased about this, we were heading into winter, it was getting cold and wet and who would not want to be pushed around?

It all came to a head though.
It was raining in Redruth and I was struggling with the nappy bag on my shoulder, Prole1 in one hand and a bag of shopping in another, pushing Prole2.
I watched as one of the buggy wheels came loose, detached itself and rolled past us and away down the hill towards the cinema.
A second later the axle of the buggy popped out and we stopped.

Marooned in the middle of the high street, two Proles, shopping, nappy bag and a broken buggy.

I stood for a second not quite knowing what to do.

The thing about having kids is, that like so many situations in life, if you stop making decisions you are lost.

I took Prole2 out of the carcass of the buggy, hefted the two bags, grabbed the Proles hands and we all went and sat in a cafe and had a sticky bun.
Out the window we could see the buggy in the rain, slewed to one side and off balance.
After a while someone pushed it down the hill, past the cafe towards the bins.

Prole2 never went in a buggy again, from that moment on he walked.
Actually he didn’t, for the most part he walked but for the rest I had to carry him but I am trying not to spoil the point.
I could have bought another buggy but losing the first had suddenly made me look at my boys and realise how self sufficient they had become.

It took another couple of years to be finally free of the nappy bag. Just when you think you don’t need two complete sets of pants and trousers for you children you spectacularly do.
Life can deal some harsh lessons but improvising clothes for two small boys on a crowded city shopping street is one lesson I don’t need to go back over. I hope it is a subject I never have to revise.
I hated the bag in the end.
It weighed me down, it would slump to one side whenever I wanted to put my hand in it and every seam was clogged with that sticky, biscuity, browny black cludge that you only find in the vicinity of toddlers.
The stuff you find between the car seat cushions.
The stuff you find on the sofa.
I hate that stuff.
The only thing it fears in the wild is the wet wipe.

I have a lot of respect for the wet wipe, you can clean anything, and I mean anything, with a good wet wipe but I would not be upset if I NEVER saw one of those again as long as I live.

Living with Proles in the early days was like hanging out with tiny little drunks.

Emotional, belligerent, uncoordinated, unpredictable, mostly incoherent, really unsteady on their feet and barely continent.

Tonight I was on the phone at bed time. I whispered to them it was bed time.
As I was talking to my friend I watched the Proles put toys away, get dressed into pyjamas, brush their teeth and get into bed.
I am pleased they can do all this for themselves and also a tiny bit disappointed.

I am used to Prole2 being the smallest and the cutest child around. These days i look at him all boney and stringy like a great big frog and I know he is not that little toddler any more.

The arrival of the newest member of their social group certainly seals that if it had not been done before.

Tonight I thought about taking the Proles to a City in a foreign country and for the first time did not think how awful that might be.
I thought it might actually work.
I thought they might enjoy getting lost in other culture and language as much as I do.
I wonder how Prole1 would order vegetarian food in Germany? Better than me probably.

Perhaps as a family we are turning some kind of corner?