Wednesday, 20 January 2010
My son loves watching the telly.
That sentence probably doesn’t convey the strength of his feeling enough.
For my son, telly is like heroin.
Actually, that’s probably overstating it just a bit. I should really have thought about this before I started writing. OK, let’s just say that his affection for the goggle box is less than a drug addict’s need for smack but certainly more than the tenderness he feels for either of his parents.
So far it’s been a very happy relationship. He doesn’t watch it all the time. He doesn’t even watch it all the time he wants to. However, occasionally as a way of encouraging some good behaviour in other areas of his life, or if I fancy a bit of peace and quiet, he’ll be allowed to have a gawp. For heaven sake both his parents have made a living out of TV so the roof over his head, the clothes on his back, the expensive toys that he refuses to play with have all been paid for by TV.
Up until now my son has favoured one of two viewing pleasures.
1.Movies (generally an animated classic such as Jungle Book, Toy Story, Monsters Inc etc)
Over the last three years our viewing landscape has been a world inhabited by yoga performing sprites, creatures with names like Macca Pacca and YoJo Jo, and silly grown-ups who dress up and fall down a lot. It has been fun and colourful and unthreatening. I can leave my kids in front of CBeebies safe in the knowledge that as soon as my back is turned it’s not going to start swearing or drinking or bringing up “issues”.
Now though my eldest is in the process of migrating from CBeebies to CBBC and I simply don’t know how to cope. It’s like watching the first broadcast after an apocalyptic nuclear strike has all but wiped out humanity. It’s dreadful, his mother and I are jabbering wrecks forever having to monitor what he watches and handing out ridiculous censorship rules like some kind of nightmare-ish Orwellian Government. We’ve already panicked and banned him from watching Tracy Beaker, although Joe obviously watches it when we’re not with him because he recently called me a super loser and I’m pretty sure his grandmother didn’t teach him that.
Monday, 11 January 2010
As baby routines have come under the spotlight today I thought I'd create my own. Yes, it's the Frazzled Daddy Baby Plan or how to cope with the first crucial 33 minutes of a weekend morning...
5.57am Wake up as oldest son keeps opening up your eyelids. Try and ignore it.
6.02am After failing to ignore a full five minutes of eyelid opening, ask eldest what he wants.
6.03am Get up, go downstairs and turn on the TV for eldest son.
6.04am Go back to bed and try and fall asleep. At this point you could also fall asleep on the sofa although you do leave yourself open to more questions and eyelid opening.
6.07am Wake up at the sound of your youngest stirring. Pretend that what you actually heard was the sound of a bird on the roof.
6.11am Wake up with worry that a bird might be clogging up the guttering on your roof. Realise the bird was a figment of your own imagination to ease your conscience. Ignore the increasingly loud noises coming from your youngest’s bedroom. Fall asleep.
6.14am Wake up after having dream of youngest falling out of cot and rolling out of their room and down the stairs.
6.15am Give partner a nudge and tell them that they have to sort out youngest as it’s your turn for a lie-in (you’ve got a 50:50 chance of being correct and to be honest your partner could be into the kid’s bedroom before they realise)
6.16am Go back to sleep
6.22am Wake up to the sound of massive row breaking out downstairs. Try and ignore it.
6.23am After failing to ignore it and with hostilities escalating put on yesterday’s clothes and go downstairs.
6.24am Respond positively when asked if you enjoyed your lie-in. Put on kettle.
6.25am Encourage eldest son to watch god awful kids’ TV with you.
6.26am Realise that you’re 36 years old and you’re sitting in yesterday’s clothes watching an episode of Thomas that you know all the words to.
6.30am Remember that none of the kids have had any milk and weigh up the possibility of going back to bed.
Today Frazzled Daddy went “over the top” and became a media entity in its own right, I went on the radio. No doubt books, movie rights and a range of hideous merchandising is only a heartbeat away but rest assured that I will not forget you, the little people, when I go global. Well, I might.
The fabulous London institution LBC called me to ask if I had anything to say about the balls-out war that has broken out in the world of parenthood. In the red corner, the grandmaster of gurus, the behemoth of baby boffins, the heavyweight champion of itineries... GINA FORD. And in the yellow corner is the challenger, the archduke of dads, the prince of proportional representation, the leader of the Liberal Democrat... what’s his name, er oh yes... NICK CLEGG.
Just in case you missed it, Nick Clegg “launched a scathing attack” on Gina Ford’s childcare methods likening them to an Ikea assembly manual that can make parents feel strangely passive. In fact, read it for yourself, that’d be much easier.
OK, for any of you who haven’t read any Gina Ford and who don’t understand what the hell is going on then consider yourself very, very lucky and go about your day.
When I read the article I felt a huge affinity for what Nick Clegg had said. I remember very vividly the few weeks before our youngest son, Joe, was born and the frenzied accumulation and poring over the Contented Baby books. All our friends had read it and we had to and more than that we had to follow it because then we would be doing things “right”. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after a lot of sleepless nights, that we realised that our son didn’t quite fit in to Gina Ford’s meticulous regime and that perhaps a different and more flexible approach was required. Once we’d made this extraordinary revelation things got a lot better for us.
So well done Nick Clegg for speaking your mind, for telling it how it is and for encouraging people to trust their own parental instincts.
As ever, let me know what you think by leaving comments and remember don’t listen to anything I say because I’m an idiot.