Archives for posts with tag: uncoordinated

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I saw a Cavaquinho for sale in a shop window in Sao Paolo.
It was about the most beautiful instrument I had ever seen.
Glossy like a boiled sweet.

Samba, the Samba of Sao Paolo, was a complete and utter revelation to me.
Coming from Cornwall where one might be mistaken for thinking every local festival HAS to have a Samba Band thumping along the street at some point BY LAW, the Brazilian music I heard was from another planet.

I don’t play the cavaquinho and probably never will.
I saw it being played with such skill by so many people out there, no way I could do justice to the sound.

We had a banjo on the wall when I was growing up.
I remember it being played twice.

I took piano lessons for ages as a child. After what must have been years, I got through to the end of ‘Teaching Little Fingers To Play’ and shut the book, never to be opened again.

Music was something other people did.

It was always embarrassing when part of a theatre company, to be devoid of any performance skills at all.
I say embarrassing, I was not supposed to have any, it would have gone against the grain somewhat if I had.

Our job as Stage Managers was to create a safe environment for performers to work in.

It was a good job, part alarm clock, part policeman on a bad day, really exciting and challenging on other days.
I liked that people came to me and I would try to help solve any problem.
I hated that people would come to me and expect me to solve every problem.
In the end the problems all boiled down to a breakdown in communication somewhere.
Given that the industry is all about communication, this could get tiring.

I loved theatre.
I was fairly well discouraged from starting a career in theatre but I spent the best part of twenty years doing it.
I wasn’t brilliant in the job, I just tried to be on time and not go too mad.
For the most part it worked and I stayed in employment.

It was a small world of tight families, put together for a few months and then disbanded.
Really very intense at the time.
Nothing to talk about afterwards.

I have many friends in Theatre but unless I am working with them we don’t have much to talk about when I first see them again.
Work was everything.
It was why I got out of bed each day.
I wanted to be in there, drinking it in, feeling the day, helping things happen.
You could feel the mood of the company.
You could watch the big personalities.
You could build through the day to the show and if it was a good show, that you believed in, there was nothing better.

I loved moments of silence in a full theatre, when hundreds of people would hold their breath in a moment together.
I loved the moment of opening a show and the final sweep up at the end.
I loved being dog tired, in the clothes you slept in, seventy hours into the week and no let up with two shows and a session of tech to get through and knowing that you were part of the team that could make that happen.
I loved the empty theatre when everyone had gone home.
I loved the pub and the stories of falls, drops, accidents and the wit of the people the public never see.
I loved being nine feet tall and walking down the street, knowing I was on the best show in town.

I did not tour much, relative to other Stage Managers I knew, but it did take me to some brilliant places.

Sao Paolo is one of the biggest cities in the world.
We were on our way to a tower with a viewing platform at the top.

When we got up there we could see the city for miles in every direction.
If every window we could see was one person…
If every building we could see was one person…
If…no I could not quite take it in.

And it made me think about how small my little theatre ship was and how vast, how unutterably vast the human race is.
And it made me think about my real family, thousands of miles away.

And I realised that everything had to change because the world is so big and we are so small and in the end who would notice if we were not here any more?

My vision of the world was centred around me. Here I could see a million homes.

Would I even make the papers out there in Brazil if I ceased to be in that instant?

The people who would miss me were no where near at all.

It was not just me.

We were a bit quiet when we came down.

I determined that I would leave something behind with the people I love most.
Walking back through the city to the station later on, one of the musicians told me not to buy the cavaquinho or anything else as a souvenir to hang on a wall.
He told me to save my money, buy a ukulele and learn to play.

“Like a cavaquinho for idiots”

He told me to learn to play so I could teach my kids.
He said they would not care if I was any good or not, just that it would be fun.

Because the best audience of all were back at my house and I should bring give them everything.

I don’t work in theatre any more.
I am not nine feet tall any more.
I do still try to make a difference to an audience.
I play ukulele really badly, to the Proles every night while they have a bath.

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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 have a painting on the wall from a well known American Artist.

I say well known, I had never heard of him.
In fact I have just been googling him to see who he is.

He has done a lot it seems.

This one is not actually worth anything though.

The man who digs the garden knocked the painting off the wall.

Actually he bumped it on the way up the stairs and it must have hung by a thread for half an hour before it fell.

We had been discussing the Smiths.
The man who digs the garden does not particularly love the Smiths, the band from the late eighties, but he does not mind them.
He sometimes listens to them.

I had gone so far as to saying I hate the Smiths.
Actually I just actively dislike the music.
In reality it is only Morrisey’s voice I don’t like.

It was something of a pain when I was young.
I hung around with many, many Smiths fans.
In the tribal way of teenagers I looked and dressed very much like my friends.
I looked and dressed like a Smiths fan.

I was not a Smiths fan.
It would have been easier if I had just pretended that I liked them I suppose.

This preconception of me and my musical tastes carried on and carries on now.
I still meet people who are surprised that I don’t like the Smiths.

Laura even made me a compilation CD (as one does on occasion in relationships) on which was “There is a light that never goes out”, a song I used to find particularly unpleasant when I was in my late teens.

However unpleasant I used to find it, nowadays it just reminds me that Laura loved it so much she put it on a compilation CD for me.

Nowadays I can listen to the Smiths and it just reminds me of all those friends I don’t see any more and how much of a laugh it was being young.
That is what Morrisey means to me now.
Thank you Morrisey.
Listening to your voice means something.
It means looking at the man who digs the garden, gnarled hands, bald head, bushy beard, and seeing him as an 18year old again.
I don’t play the Smiths but these days I don’t turn them off either.

Where was I?

The painting is on an old panel of wood inside a frame and it came down the stairs, spinning off the third step and crashed into the hallway.

It made a real racket and dinked a hole in the floor where it hit.

The painting cracked from top to bottom.

Right down the middle and a shiver of the panel came out.

It is an old panel of wood and very dry.

It comes from The Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral’s time as the chaplain at Marlborough School.
One of the students was leaving and gave the Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral one of his pictures.
He then went on to Art School and moved to New York where he became very successful.

The painting is from his time before Art School.

It shows a figure that looks like Christ sitting with his head in his hands, weeping.
He is seen through the ephemeral shadow of a Cambell’s soup tin.
Yep, Cambell’s soup can.
It was painted in 1968 by a school boy so we can cut the guy some slack.

Also, the use of the soup can is explained in a Latin inscription across the top and the painted note on the back.

The picture is called “The State of America, 1968″.

Being one of those things that a Clergyman might collect through his life it was eventually passed on to the Canon Emeritus of Salisbury Cathedral’s daughter.

Laura brought it with her when we moved to Cornwall together.

There were many casualties of our moves, we no long have the picture of ‘Donkey by Spanish Windmills” which used to be in Laura’s room when she was a child.
We did not keep the four foot high African fertility doll. Once Prole2 turned up that thing was gone.
We did not keep the 1930s arm chair.
The white chest of drawers went to a bonfire.
My book cases went to the charity shop.
At a conservative estimate about four hundred books went to new homes.

I sort of do and don’t like the painting.

When I first saw it I was not enamoured.
I did not actually dislike it as much as, say, the Smiths but I was not keen.
As the years have gone by I have mellowed towards it.

When I saw it damaged I was actually very upset.

It may be worth nothing to the art world and I don’t know what will happen to it in the future but I love the heritage, the links and the story of it.

I re-hung it and I know enough about these things not to attempt mending it on my own.

It now has a crack, a new piece of history, another page to the story.

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If I close my eyes and imagine the Proles I see them about six months younger than they are.

They are both eating like small horses at the moment so I was very pleased when the enthusiastic young man in the supermarket cafe under charged us.
This meant the Proles got the usual macaroni cheese, garlic bread, drink, small chocolate bar and fruit, Prole2 chose a cherry flapjack, Prole1 a fruit scone (no cream, no jam, no butter) and I had fish and chips, a macaroon and a pot of tea for six pounds forty.
In my defence I did say ‘Are you sure?’ to the enthusiastic young man and he waved me away saying it was a meal deal and I got a discount.

Certainly did I thought when I looked at the receipt later.

The Proles ate and drank everything on the table, we did some shopping and when we got home they had an apple each.

This means a growth spurt.

Funny word.
Spurt.
Not sure I like it.

I sort of take it personally when they grow out of clothes.
Prole1 has grown out of what I consider to be his ‘new’ school trousers.
Some times I get a real stab of regret that a piece of clothing they look SO DAMN GOOD IN has got too small.
I have a small bag of memory clothes in a trunk upstairs, first babygrows, tiny hats, first shoes but also those brilliant trousers, that checked shirt and those three piece suits.
Lovely stuff that makes me go all gooey whilst the Proles look on, slack jawed and blank eyed, staring at me holding up old clothes and sighing like I am mad.
Which of course I am not.

That said, Prole2 fell in love with a pair of combat trousers, trousers that were more hole than knee, worn paper thin so if you held them up the light shone through them.
I put them in the bin and two days later found them in his bed with Eeyore ‘sleeping’ in one leg and Puppy ‘sleeping’ in the other.

What to do?

The Proles are getting big.

I had to buy new school trousers.
I don’t have the absolute scruffiest kids in the world but they are pretty close.
It does not help that they have zero sense of style.
I am not one to talk about such things but at least I know to wear my pants inside my trousers, a simple mistake that Prole2 has made twice now.
Perhaps he was just trying to hold his trousers up.
He seems to have no hips.
Since I can remember, trousers have always slid off him.
His style of low slung trouser is often commented on, he looks particularly ‘street’ and I don’t mean Sesame.
He is not exactly cool though, Prole2 is also the only child I know who managed to tuck his tee shirt, his jumper and his coat into his pants and walk out of the supermarket toilet that way.
Prole1 is getting much better and is very good at getting all the clothes on and in the right order but somehow he looks like someone who has read a book about clothes and is trying them out for the first time.

Prole2 inherits all his brother’s clothes, a system he does not seem to mind at all.
One day there will be some kind of mutiny but they seem to share clothes like they share toys.
One or two iconic pieces ‘belong’ to one or another of them, everything else is up for grabs.
Sometimes it works out fine, sometimes they just look odd.

I buy most of their clothes from E-Bay.
I was nervous of this to start off with, you never really know what you are getting and who knows where they come from?
However, in my experience, the sort of people who can be bothered to sell on children’s clothes on E-Bay are also the sort of people who see some sort of intrinsic ‘value’ in children’s clothes and are likely to have looked after them.
This was borne out this last week by the unpacking of Prole1’s latest wardrobe.

Each item in the bundle was individually wrapped in cling film.

They smelled like lemons.

The whites had a bluey white I liked.

They were ironed.

They absolutely did not belong in my house.

I swear I would have paid the money all over again just to get the Prole’s existing clothes looking that way.

I am not a ‘label’ person (partial to a Sherry’s suit and a Ben Sherman shirt but nothing too fancy) but these were all Jasper Conran, Kangol and even the cheap bits were from Next.

Once, Prole2 put on one of the E-Bay jumpers and we got stopped by three people asking where we got it.
Such things were not usually seen in Redruth.

The beauty of the E-Bay system is that you choose how much you would pay for the bundle, in total, including postage.
Personally I reckon two pounds fifty per item including postage is fair enough.
That way, even if the clothes are a bit duff you have not lost out too much.

So far though, we have been really lucky, loads of brilliant clothes.

A week later, you can’t tell them from the rest of his clothes now of course.

The trouble is that this state of bliss is coming to an end one day.
One day they will actually want to choose what they wear instead of just grabbing the nearest thing from the nearest drawer and dragging it on.
They will want to cultivate style and a ‘look’ and suddenly Dad buying second hand clothes off E-Bay just wont cut it any more.
And it will suddenly start costing money.

Meh.
If they want decent clothes they can buy them with their pocket money.
Their cousin is saving up his pocket money for a Landrover when he turns 18, Prole2 can start saving for a decent pair of slacks.

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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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The Proles are watching “Dougal and the Blue Cat”

There is a reason for this.
First off I want to dispel any ideas that I might be any good at this parenting thing.
My house is a mess, things are unwashed, untidy and falling apart.
I am also not blessed with completely unlimited patience.
Some days I find it hard to find any patience at all.
Today when I had tidied breakfast things up and got the cuddly toys out of the kitchen, then tidied yesterdays toys out of the living room, then gone back into the kitchen and tidied it again from the lego session that had happened because the living room was out of bounds, then gone back into the living room and tidied up the cars that had been brought out whilst I was tidying the kitchen, I started through the door and I trod on a small plastic wrestler.
With bare feet.
Me not the wrestler.

It was Seamus from the WWE, in case you are interested in the details.

Now Seamus has extended arms and a ‘flicking’ action that can propel his plastic foes across the ring, table or in this case hallway.

I tried to do the ‘light-step-not-putting-all-your-weight-on-it’ move that you learn when the first piece of lego is placed on the floor and you have bare feet.
(Why does lego hurt so much by the way? It is totally disproportionate to any other toy stepped on in bare feet, surely?)

Seamus did a good job though, his outstretched arms digging into my exposed instep and I began to drop the cars I was carrying and I tried to do the ‘move-your-bare-feet-out-of-the-way-whilst-still-standing’ move that I learned from carrying large ungainly handfuls of toe smashing toys.

This meant I fell sideways and banged my head on the wall and I hissed with pain.

The Proles froze half way through the marble run they were constructing on the kitchen floor.

The net result of this was that I was SO ANGRY and ENRAGED that I put myself on the naughty step to calm down and sent them into the living room to watch a film.

Putting myself on the naughty step was a brilliant discovery by the way, they are not allowed to talk to me and I am not allowed to talk to them.
Sometimes it is the most peaceful place in the house.
And I get 43 minutes if I want.

Anyway it got me thinking.

I like watching the wrestling.
This is a bit of a hangover from my childhood and the ‘Golden Years’ of TV wrestling in Britain.
We did not watch it often at home, it was not actually banned but it was on on Saturday afternoons and watching the telly on a Saturday was limited to mornings only.
Sometimes, on rare visits to other family members, I would be allowed to watch.
I stopped watching at all when I got into my teens because it was so very clearly a pantomime.

A long time later  I found that they would repeat shows from the bigger American wrestling shows on British TV.
These were the days when I was working in London and the perfect unwind might be the most mindless telly in the world.
Robot Wars and the World Wrestling Federation were top of my list.

Before you judge me I would have to point out that during the summer months my days were taken up discussing Shakespeare, renaissance culture, authentic theatrical practices of the sixteenth century and complex rehearsal schedules.
I spent most days bluffing my way through with some of the keenest historical and theatrical minds in Britain.

By the end of the day the last thing I wanted to do was indulge in anything cerebral.

Robot Wars was just weird, geeks from all over the country bringing their dreams, time and spare money together and creating a mechanical machine that would get smashed to pieces on National TV.
It was simultaneously brilliant and awful.
Mostly awful though and never quite as exciting as you thought it might be.

The Wrestling was different.
On the face of it big men (and sometimes women) get into a ring in improbable clothing and pretend to beat each other up.
This is interspersed with universally badly improvised speeches over the microphone.
After you watch it for a while something else starts to shine through.
Week after week those people train hard and rehearse incredibly complicated series of moves.
A bout can go on for fifteen minutes or more.
They have spent time working these out and have to remember them in front of  live audience.

I know professional dancers that would have a problem with that schedule week on week.

Added to that the moves themselves are all fairly dangerous.
Some of the jumps are huge, falls onto concrete floors, catches and somersaults.
I once witnessed an actor dislocate their whole foot. All the were doing was running across the stage.
The risk to professional wrestlers is incredible.

Added to that a different partner to play off most weeks, sometimes multiple players to be rehearsed in.
The setting is brutal, scaff planks with a foam layer covered in canvas, steel frame with some robust padding.

Week after week you can watch the same people get into the ring.

There are plots to watch if you can be bothered, feuds, villains turned saints and faces turned heels.
The plots are usually awful and unsurprising, just a means to getting people fighting really.

There is often some sort of fictitious competition for the championship belt, this is just a reason for bad improvised speech it appears.

The real drama is played out as you watch the talented and not so talented try to hang on to their fans, try to hang on to their contracts, try not to pick up too many injuries.
Some of them have been doing it for years and you just know a large part of their wages goes on surgery to keep them in the game.

Even before the film “The Wrestler” came out I was trying to read that story behind the glossy TV shows.
Men in their late thirties, forties and in some cases fifties stepping into the ring and being hurled around in tendon snapping back bending ways.
Most of my more physical theatre friends have all sorts of problems with knees, arms, necks and backs.
Heaven knows what the list of injuries must be in the professional wrestling scene.

I would lie on the sofa and watch the ‘show’ each week.

It is like they have no pain and no fear.

Which brings me to the toy Seamus the Wrestler.

The thing is, when the real Seamus the Wrestler goes home does he hurt himself when he steps on lego?

I bloody hope so…..

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?