I write this in a state of frenzied insomnia brought about by the theme tune to My Pet and Me whirling around incessantly in my head.
It’s quite a catchy tune, that.
So is The Time Has Come to Say Goodnight. And Goodbye Sun, Hello Moon. And come to think of it Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures has a certain ring to it too, and Octonauts, and Charlie and Lola, Topsy and Tim and my personal favourite In The Night Garden, which has not one but a multitude of bangin’ choons*, AND dances!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have been watching a LOT of CBeebies.
It all started innocently enough. I convinced myself that In The Night Garden was the elusive secret to getting a baby to sleep, the Holy Grail of Naptime, if you will, based on little more than hearsay that this was A Thing that all parents swore by and a Code of Parenthood that I had to follow. By the time he was three months, Piglet was having his bouncy chair turned to face Iggle Piggle and his motley band of differently-sized friends each evening, despite the fact that he never went to sleep before 8pm at the earliest, and was frequently still fighting it at 10pm or later.
Then later, when I went back to work, it became part of the evening routine of keeping him entertained while I made dinner, and by the time he was ten months old he knew the group dance and was performing it dutifully whilst clinging to the TV stand for support, face just inches from the television screen.
Fast forward another eight months and he now rises from his slumbers in the morning, reaches for the nearest toy and points at the television, shouting and gesturing loudly until the nearest adult-usually Granny these days-switches it on.
And all the time there is a little nagging voice in my head saying BAN UNDER-THREES FROM WATCHING TELEVISION, SAYS STUDY (The Guardian, 2012) , FRANCE BANS BABY TV (Babycentre, 2008) OH MY GOD YOU ARE RAISING A MONSTER. YOU ARE A TERRIBLE HUMAN BEING. CAN’T YOU SIT AND DO SOME CRAFTS OR SOMETHING LIKE A GOOD MUMMY? (Me, 2016).
I tried, I really did. I made a promise to myself that Piglet and I would be that civilised family, the two of us sat round an enormous oak table in a palatial dining room in my Imaginary Future House with two floors and an upstairs bathroom and everything, dinner set out in front of us on matching crockery, passing the salad bowl (we would be using proper tongs, no tossing the salad about with a mere fork here) to each other whilst discussing Piglet’s day at school, his thoughts on the refugee crisis** and what we thought of the Budget. There would be no screens, not even the Six ‘O Clock News. It would be intellectual conversation and impeccable table manners all the way.
That promise lasted approximately two weeks into our weaning “journey.”
And my what a journey it was. Still is. Today for example, I had to duck whilst being assailed with flying cups of water, lasagne (Plan A dinner, took an hour and a half to make, and 30 seconds for Piglet to reject, and banana (that was the Plan B dinner), before wearily handing over the second chocolate chip brioche of the day. And that was WITH the distraction of the Night Garden.
Looks like the impeccable table manners are going to take a bit of time to develop, and in the meantime, distraction is key. I have written about this before, but what I failed to mention was that it isn’t just mealtimes. CBeebies has now infiltrated every aspect of life.
Need to change a nappy? Try the In The Night Garden app. Dinner taking a long time to cook? Don’t worry! The Clangers is on. Getting a bit bored with his toys? Mr Tumble will give him a new lease of life. The television has literally become the ultimate babysitter.
Next week: Piglet demands an iPad.
*deliberate misspelling. The 90s are back. Didn’t you know? I’m even wearing berry lipstick again.
**Hopefully it will have ended by then, but regrettably, there’s bound to be another one.
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