OK, so this post should really be titled, “Five things MY toddler is obsessed with,” as I have no other benchmark from which to make my ridiculous generalisations, but here goes.
Really we are talking branches here. Some would say entire trees. Check this bad boy out.
This is not a new phenomenon.
Yes, dogs were running from the hills, and I had to wrestle this branch out of those tiny paws before we got yapped to death. Don’t try this at home folks.
2. Fire engines
Today I actually contemplated waking Piglet from his slumbers in the buggy because “the big fire engine” went past. You know, the one with the giant ladder. The King and Queen, the absolute Mummy and Daddy of all fire engines. Years ago, my grandparents lived on a busy road. Every now and again (quite a lot, from what I can remember. There must have been a lot of fires in that part of Bristol) a fire engine would come screaming past the window, closely followed by another, and at that point all the assembled adults would tell us to position ourselves by the window, ready for “the big fire engine,” which would surely follow. It never disappointed. And that is how I know that all children are obsessed with fire engines, even me. It isn’t just Piglet, who has memorised a series of sounds that he thinks comprise the lyrics of the theme tune to Fireman Sam, or the tots I once saw having a visit from a fire engine in their nursery who literally jumped up and down at the sight of it. It is ALL. OF. THEM.
One of the most delightful sights I have ever seen in my life occurred several years before I had my own child when, standing in Baker Street Station waiting for the Metropolitan Line, I saw a small child on the platform do as children are wont to do, and wave at the approaching train. The driver waved back, and I am sure that I have never seen anyone look so deliriously happy, neither before nor since. Piglet, needless to say, is the same. Today, for example, I delayed him from escaping from a cafe to gaze upon the beautiful sight of a distant steam engine by searching up some video footage of Japanese trains on level crossings on YouTube and sticking it in front of him. Simple pleasures. Then again, this is a child who once sat through a sixteen minute recording of buses going in and out of Uxbridge Bus Garage, rapt with wonder. Toddlers are amazing. And so are the people who put this rubbish on YouTube. Train and bus spotters of the world, you have my eternal gratitude.
4. Paw Patrol
I do not know who came up with Paw Patrol, but I do believe that they are a genius.
“What do the kids like?” I imagine they said, twirling a champagne flute in one hand and scribbling on a mood board with the other, in the kind of cushion-strewn “breakout space” that I imagine all TV people inhabit.
“They like animals!” I imagine one young person shouted, viewing a moodboard full of Disney and Beatrix Potter characters.
“Hmm. Don’t you think animals might be, well, a little bit done to death?”
“OK, well how about superheroes? Kids love superheroes,”
“Hasn’t every film released in the past ten years been about superheroes though? Don’t you think that one’s well, a little bit done to death?
More champagne is drunk (I imagine), and the conversations loosen up a bit.
“How about we blend it all together? Animals, superheroes and any kind of vehicle in which a toddler has ever been interested. Dave’s son likes diggers, Lisa’s daughter likes the bin lorry. They all like dogs. How about it guys? Dog superheroes on wheels. Diggers, fire engines, police cars, planes, the works. We could even throw in the occasional train. Oh, and a bunch of bad guys who are cats. Everyone hates cats, right?”
Ladies and gentlemen of the Paw Patrol Studios breakout space, I salute you, and I salute your wildly effective merchandise, which will stop a toddler at twenty paces as they cuddle the next door neighbour’s teddy bear (pup) version of “Chase is on the Case” and refuse to give it back, or demand to eat from their Paw Patrol dish, and the Paw Patrol dish only, despite the fact that it’s festering in the dishwasher. Not that I’m bitter Paw Patrol. NOT THAT I’M BITTER.
5. Bread sticks.
Now, if the phrase “something of nothing” was invented with anything in particular in mind, it was surely bread sticks. I’m not entirely sure who would have been the first person to consider making a weird stick thing out of the industrialised remains of a baguette, but I suppose I owe them my thanks, as without bread sticks the only thing Piglet would be willing to eat would be chocolate, and though I cannot fault his tastebuds on that score, I had always rather hoped I’d be that parent with the draconian attitude towards wholesome nourishment, the one proffering pumpkin seeds and dried apricots as a snack, and insisting on sugar-free frozen yoghurt with a side of blueberries instead of an ice cream.
So there we have it, toddlerhood is a wonderful stage. They cannot eat, unless it is from the only dish you have that is gaily decorated with the ensemble cast of Paw Patrol, and that is in the dishwasher. They will only accept snacks if they are of the blandest variety possible (see point five, above), or chocolate, and they still find nothing more fascinating than the distant sight of a police van watching over speeding motorists from the side of the road. Long live toddlerhood.