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“Cat nip for kids.”

This is a bit of a niche read, more than so than my normal “I’m a dad let me tell you about it” but it is something that I think other parents may relate to.

This blog is all about my beef with Iggle Piggle, Dora, Peppa, The Tweenies and other high pitched kids TV characters.Image-1

I am well aware that I am not a Kids TV executives target audience, and just 5 minutes watching our small human stand in front of the TV and dance and sing along or sit transfixed with the shrill lead characters makes you realise they know what they are doing, as my wife puts it they have created “cat nip for kids”.

Now I do not hate ALL kids TV, and I have to admit I do love getting home from work in time to watch CBeebies with Bea. I don’t get the full bed time hour; getting back in time to be met by our little one who will excitedly beckon me into the living room, point at Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy or any of the other characters that reaffirm who they are by only being able to say their own name or come up with their own theme tune and we will watch them doing their stuff in the garden. The best bit is when Iggle Piggle knobs off on his boat and we get down to the Cbeebies bedtime story. Here the Beeb pull some weight
and pull in names such as Professor Brian Cox, Guy Garvey, Simon Pegg, Mary Anne Hobbs!!! And even crossing over the childhood timelines Floella Benjamin who all then read bedtime stories and wish the children of Britain a good night. Then comes the flosong, the good night song, all part of our night time routine now. Post song Bea will even take herself off to the bottom of the stairs ready to be escorted upstairs to bed. Perfect! Although I am aware that I need to be careful saying that in public, both not to jinx our luck or to infuriate those parents with little ones that refuse to sleep. We are lucky!

I don’t remember my very early days of watching kids TV; it is likely I was a fan of Play School and Rainbow because my first two toy bears were named Ted & Bungle. The TV that stirs up the happy memories are shows that seem to now be on Hollywood’s radar, my generation now all in our 30’s with some disposable income and nostalgia pangs large enough for us to want to see a big budget Transformers/Turtles films. I am still waiting for them to make a Thundercats movie – do you hear me Hollywood, make that movie!

The American cartoons like Ghostbusters, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, He-Man & Thundercats, are so good that films and re-boots have been created, lunch boxes, t-shirts, duvet covers and new toys made and sold (something more for the disposable income to be spent on?)

The fantastic British cartoons like Banana Man, SuperTed, Duckula, Danger Mouse; frankly ANYTHING voiced/narrated by David Jason don’t seem to have the same commercial value for a reboot (I know there is a new Danger Mouse cartoon – keen to see how good/bad it is).

My wife points out that Bea “cannot be into everything you are in to.” That is correct (although it would make things easier, and allow me to buy more toys for us to play with… Or keep on a shelf in my office), I’m kind of hoping that means I don’t have to be into everything she seems to like… But that is when the guilt kicks in.

There is a fantastic blog written about In The Night Garden In The Night Garden: 10 things we’re all thinking (aren’t we?) | The (mal)Contented Mother it covers an awful lot of what I don’t like about the show – it is no Rainbow. The zero shits given about the sizes of characters in relation to the Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk is a real bugbear of mine!!! Plus the fact that at 33 years old I have just typed Ninky Nonk and Pinky Ponk – ridiculous!!!

merch

As with many hugely popular kids shows there are those commercial opportunities, in addition to this there seems to be a trend about creating a ‘world’ or ‘experience’ – like a smaller, less bells-and-whistles Disneyland.

My wife emailed me this week asking if I wanted to visit In The Night Garden LIVE, to see Iggle Piggle in the flesh/fur/whatever he is made out of. They create The Night Garden and you and your younglings can get up close and witness ‘the magic’ first hand (even closer if you pay a premium for front row seats). The promo email had it all, the heart-warming testimonies, the images of happy families; even a video showing you a glimpse of what to expect… And yet my reply was a resounding NO!

“But imagine seeing her face, it would be worth it surely!?” Replied my wife

And here comes the guilt.

No

I literally watch this show and pick it apart.

The Night Garden isn’t the only place I’m not sure I’d want to visit. The Tweenies strike me as an obnoxious lot and to hear Jake & Milo whinge (A LOT) to see them LIVE would be a step too far for me. TellyTubby land looks like Hobbiton, so unless you can guarantee me an army of Orcs will invade and rip the aerial off LaLa’s head then nope… Count me out.

Peppa Pig has her own world, I have heard nothing but good things from friends that have been but, for me, Peppa is like Stacey from Gavin & Stacey, I just don’t care for the title character. Both Peppa and Stacey have high pitched moaning voices and both get whiny when life doesn’t go their way. It is the support cast that make the show, George, Smithy, Daddy Pig and Uncle Bryn all funny characters that hold the show together.

So do I want to visit that garden. NO!

 

Do I feel guilty? Should I feel guilty? I don’t know. Should I?

 

 

 

FYI: My wife and mother-in-law have decided to take Bea to see Iggle Piggle and crew, I’m sure they will have loads of fun without me muttering under my breath about the ridiculousness of it all!

 

evil forces

 

 

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Blogging again

According to WordPress it has been over 200 days since my last post – 2016 will be the year I do not leave it as long.

During this blogging hiatus there has been a lot of change going on around here. The mini human is just that now, a walking, kinda talking smaller version of us, with her own personality and foibles – IT IS A LOT OF FUN

During our antenatal classes the mums to be were all discussing MILESTONES cards – now I will be honest when the concept of different cards that baby ‘holds’ whenever a major milestone is hit and we then snap a photo of this moment providing a chronological image diary was described to me I didn’t see the point of them!? However, once we started to use them, and I could stage some of the photos for comedy value (well I found them funny!) then I have to admit I started to warm to the idea.  My wife has printed some of the milestone moments and has put them in a frame together and they look great – if nothing else it is nice having lots of pictures of the youngling in different stages of her first year.

 

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Milestone Card Moments

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There are, thankfully, some milestone cards that have not been produced – I may have to set up my own line of inappropriate milestone moments…

Weaning off bottles and onto solid food was fun. I say fun. I mean messy. I say messy. I mean some of our walls have been ‘redecorated’ with food produce permanently.

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Messy eating/redecorating.

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So we began the journey with liquidised food, as previous blogs mention we used a fair amount of Ella’s pouches in this process. Some of the combos of food were fantastic and I think at times baby ate better than we did. All power to those that make their own concoctions, my wife tried, but got so disheartened to see that’s after spending ages on her flavours and prep work the meal size portions come out of the freezer, defrost and then end up on the floor or the walls!

We moved onto the pouches to save the sanity of the whole family.

So spoon feeding was an experience, at the same time Bea was entering a crazy flailing left arm phase!? Seriously, her left arm seemed to have a mind of its own for about a month. You could load up a spoon full of Sunday Roast in liquid form from the pouch and before you know it, quicker than Ali in his prime; the sting from our Bea was the crazy left arm swipe and food was everywhere!

We then moved on to the milestone of wanting to hold the spoon to feed herself, this upgraded at times to chucking the spoon aside and grabbing the pouch and squeezing the contents into her mouth.

Spoon-less eating quickly followed – who has time for spoons when you can grab handfuls of food and face palm it into your mouth and surrounding area? We know the handling of food, the schmooshing up of food and even the throwing of food is all part of experimentation; and touch and texture is as important as smell and taste. However, when you see baked beans thrown up the kitchen wall you do question the educational value of it all.

Weaning onto solid foods milestone – tick

Hand gestures such as clapping and waving are now a regularity. In the early days a wave was met with celebration (from us) she looked super pleased with herself so waving at everything became her thing. Wave at lamp, wave at car, wave at DVD case, wave at reflection in the mirror.

Teaching the high 5 was a personal highlight, again followed by much celebration from me, which led to clapping from her, so much so that when giving the gesture for high 5 she would get ahead of herself and just clap. This often left me hanging, with her looking to any bystander like she was just sarcastically clapping me.

Now, she will happily clap at gameshows when the audience do, wave when you say “hello” or “bye bye” we have even moved onto the high 10!

During my wife’s maternity leave Karen and Bea attended ‘sing and sign’ classes together. I attended once and it seemed like a lot of ladies singing while waving their hands about while the babies crawled around eating toys. BUT the classes have totally paid off.

One night a few months ago we were woken by screams of terror from Bea’s room, both running in to comfort her we lifted her from the cot bed to have a cuddle. As we did she made a hand gesture, one we knew, one we had been using to sign for milk for many months. She was telling us she needed/wanted some milk. Quickly some was made up in a bottle and she latched on as if she hadn’t eaten for days. All parents think their kids are a genius sure, but could she be a total brain box with stuff like this?

Non-verbal communication – tick (with a high five)

I achieved my own milestone, one I don’t think I would want to do too often. About 9 months after Bea was born (to coin a Mickey Flannigan term) I went out out!!! I woke up on the floor of our bathroom at 4am, it was one of ‘those’ nights. The hangover the morning after was pretty horrific, and I was left in charge of the mini human. She could sense my pain, and seemed to want to add to it. Eye gouging, face slapping, fish hooking and beard pulling. Lesson learnt, never again… until next time.

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The abuse of a hungover father.

Hungover childcare – tick

Linked to this semi non appropriate parenting, is another story I am not massively proud of, but will probably be part of my father of the bride speech if/when one is needed.

Our little one gets a bit clingy every now and then. If we dare to disappear to the toilet for example she wants to follow us, weirdly transfixed by the running water from the tap when we wash our hands. Now picture the scene (but not too vividly as you will discover shortly); home alone, I am in need of a number 1. Having left the door open to appease the clingy one, in she walks. First up, she heads to the loo roll and does her best Andrex puppy impression unraveling it so it ends up covering the floor at my feet. Then… Uh oh. She notices running liquid, this time not from a tap, from me. Outstretches her little hand between my legs to try and touch said liquid, still flowing I try to contort my body so she can get nowhere near me or my wee. It’s a milestone the books don’t tell you about or they have made a card for and one I am not sure how to define?

The walking milestone is another we can tick off. It all started on a family holiday, Bea had been standing on her own for a while, but you could sense that she was desperate to join in the fun and games, especially watching older cousins running about. The first few tentative steps were a thing of beauty, Bea looked so happy on stumbling a few steps and with us all cheering and clapping. Since then walking has become running, dancing, and attempting jumps. My only issue is how she has a tendency to use of her head as a brake!!!

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Taking Dad for a walk.

Walking milestone: tick

There are hundreds of little milestones that we have witnessed, ones that don’t have a card. We are currently smashing animal noises out of the park, now when I leave for work and ask for a kiss I get a little person running up to me and planting one on me.

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Questions

So let’s start with a question.

Does anybody else have a baby that on occasion will randomly stare into an empty space? We’ll be happily playing as little one sits on my lap and suddenly her head will pivot to stare into the dark corner of the room as if there is something untoward taking place.

What could be so interesting, do they think they see something… do they ACTUALLY see something? Do babies have extra sensory perception that we lose as we get older, if they could talk what would they tell us? Would we want to know?

Other strange fixations our little person has are feet! Yep, feet! The rugrat will grab your toe if you stand still for too long and will promptly shove said toe into her mouth and chomp down… it started out cute and funny. Now, she has teeth and when the little fangs are plunged in it bloody hurts!!! She won’t try and chomp through a shoe, so it has to be a toe thing, male or female digit she will roll towards you and try to eat it. Freak!

Another one of her obsessions is lampshades. We have a few in our house but she shows a keen interest in two in particular. Firstly, the one in her bedroom – It has cartoon animals and what look like little tags on it, so I guess you could understand wanting to grab it. The second lampshade of interest is in our living room and has no pattern, yet she will attempt to hold it, push it, really happy to just touch it.

oooh lampshade!

oooh lampshade!

With me over 6ft she gets pretty close to the lampshades so she is in prime position for a whack or a grab, usually knocking an avalanche of dust flying, perhaps that is the attraction? Or perhaps it is revenge… I have been guilty once or twice when playing ‘throw the baby in the air game’ in throwing her too high and causing a bit of a collision between baby head and light fitting.

So she has her weird little idiosyncrasies, and I guess looking at things from her point of view I have mine. A good friend of mine and a new dad himself asked me the other day whether I speak ‘mumbo jumbo’ to Bea as he does to his daughter. I sure do, any random noise seems to keep her attention so I will speak utter jibberish sounding something like Pingu/Morph on caffeine.

I am also guilty of smelling her LOTS. Any given opportunity I will grab a quick sniff of her head or neck, the new born baby smell has passed, but she now has her own distinct aroma, AND. IT. IS. LUSH! My mum used to do the same thing to me and my sister… this carried on well into our adult life, causing us much embarrassment when a hug in public would result in a big inhale and a resounding “Aaaah” noise of contentment . I now understand why Mum would sniff us; I guess there is something animalistic or innate in us, to sniff out our offspring to ensure they are close and safe.

I have been thinking a lot about my Mum recently as she would have been 61 years old in April. Dealing with a poorly baby full of cold, teething, constipated or worse; made me think of all the late nights/early mornings, tears, projectile poos/vomit etc that Mum dealt with when raising me and my sister. As kids you say thank you for certain things your parents do for you; birthday presents, help with homework, a cooked meal. As you grow older you thank them for their vital advice about work, relationships etc (even if you don’t want to admit how vital it is). Now as a parent myself I feel like I owe my mum a different kind of thank you, one that you can’t put into words really, it is more appreciation, a thank you for everything that got me to this point in my life allowing me to be a parent with a small understanding of what I am doing.

I can’t say that thank you in person that and the fact that Bea will never meet her Nana is something that has me in tears often. This blog isn’t some cathartic note, I promise. But I have been thinking recently how I get across to Bea how amazing her Nana was. We’re lucky to have so many of Mums friends who can tell stories from her past, likewise my aunties and uncles. Mum worked as a Teaching Assistant in a school and during their grieving process they got staff and pupils at the school to write in a memory book, the notes in it give a great indication of how caring Mum was to any child who needed some extra attention. Stories from her colleagues in the book also give an insight into her cheeky mischievous side. One day we will go through the book together.

Bea & Nana Mary

Bea & Nana Mary

I have started to tell Bea about her Nana and we have some lovely photos of Mum up in her nursery so she will know the face… albeit she probably links the pictures with me welling up at the moment!

I am still hearing new stories about Mum, recently I was told a story about how on a school trip to see the Olympic Torch relay Mum low fived a traffic cop as he rode past on his motorbike, turned to the kids in her care and just winked.  Apparently the kids all thought she was the coolest.

She was the coolest!

So let’s end as we started; with a question.

How do other parents ensure that those that have passed away are remembered by those that don’t have any memories of the loved one in the first place?

I guess the biggest thank you I can give to my Mum is providing memories of a positive childhood to Bea and any brothers and/or sisters she may have in the future, in the same way me and my sister have from our time with Mum. Her crazy playful nature lives on in us both that’s for sure, she inspired me to work with kids and that motivation makes me work harder to keep our little charity going providing play and childhood memories to those less fortunate than most. Her empathy and care for others I hope is exhibited by us on a regular basis.

If you still have the chance to, can I suggest thanking your mum, your dad, or whoever did the feeds in the night, cleaned the poo off the carpet after a poonami, comforted you when you were teething gave you happy memories of childhood and got you to where you are now.

Not all of us have the chance to do it face to face anymore.

Thanks Mum x

Please take a seat…

Hitting the 6 months old mark got me thinking about what our little one would think if, much like in the work place when starting a new job, she held a 6 month review of us in our new role as parents. Look-whos-talking

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to invent some sort of baby telepathy technique, nor have the ‘sing & sign’ classes made her small hand gestures any more legible than her vocal murmurs and gurgles. So just humour me, think something like the movie Look Who’s Talking in a blog.

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Me & Wifey walk into the nursery to be met by baby sat in her bumbo seat shuffling some papers…

Baby: ahhhh Hairy Faced Man & Food Lady, please take a seat. Time for your 6 month review…

The purpose of the review is to look at your development as my minions and how to improve your subordinate roles further.

I have to say that I am on the whole happy with your commitment so far.

Food Lady, your ability to multi task is impressive. If I understand you correctly, I was in your tummy for a while. I’m not sure how this worked, or how long that happened for but since I can remember I have enjoyed our cuddles, bath times, and the stories you tell are great. When we attend what you call ‘mother and baby’ groups I have fun watching you do silly things like singing to me while doing twirly type things with your hands. You also do this thing where you walk very quickly in a circuit stopping every now and then to jump, squat and lunge!? I have to state that I am not keen on you holding the other small people that seem to attend our days out – Did you invite them? Could you not in the future, I’m keen to make sure your attention is on me at all times.

Hairy man, I’m not sure where you go during the day, but leaving Food Lady to deal with all my needs seems a little unfair. This ‘work’ you go to most mornings seems to make you tired, sometimes grubby and a bit wiffy when you come home. I will hand it to you though; you have perfected the game of throw and catch me in the air, every time I think I am falling, yet there you are ready to catch me. I like this.

When you don’t go to work and Food Lady stays in bed in the mornings the shows on the glowing box you call ‘telly’ are very colourful and I am intrigued by most of them, they become better when we sit in one of your sofa cushion dens. I think I could get into ‘Saturday morning cartoons’ in a BIG way.

Teamwork is important and you both seem to work well together, Hairy Man I think the pats on the bum you give Food Lady are good for moral, she smiles every time so keep it up. When I was being sick and you both took it in turns to stay up with me I felt safe and the kisses on my head seemed to be the magic cure. You both gained extra credit.

To test your nappy changing skills, you may have noticed I have started to wriggle and roll off the change mat – this is part of your ongoing training and development. Solid foods are exciting as I can touch and mush up the food in my hands, this means food residue will make it to every crevice I have. I will also, occasionally, stop breathing while I sleep. This will set the baby monitor alarm off, and I will be testing your response times.

I am happy with your progress, having completed your 6 month probation period I am looking forward to working together on other projects.

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While we are thinking of films from the late 80’s with babies in the cast, there is one more that stands out. Three Men and a Baby aka an antenatal video for future fathers, and – let’s face it – a magnificent moustache immortalised on film.

I thought I knew the film pretty well, but channel hopping a few months ago I came across it and noticed a cast member, who actually lives with us, and of whom I am not a fan!

Although she may not be listed on IMDB this image shows that Sophie La Girafe is indeed in the film.

three men

Sophie is a very popular, award winning toy across the world, and a simple google image hunt will show you countless celebrities with their babies clutching at her long neck. Used to soothe gums of teething babies. Her success, I guess, comes from her simplicity – a rubbery chew toy for babies.

My beef with Sophie is not her celebrity status; in fact we have had her in our house ever since our little began to show signs of teething and she seems to do the trick. What I have issue with is the fact that Sophie is essentially a dog toy and the reasons why you should buy Sophie according to her manufacturers are pretty pretentious at best

“We use non-toxic paint” – well I would bloody hope so, for babies or dogs this kind of paint should be used on anything that goes near the mouth

“Sophie’s squeak will teach your child cause and effect” – really? REALLY? A squeaky toy can teach my daughter that increased fossil fuel use has led to global warming? Will Sophie teach the central concept of Buddhism via the cause and effect of karma?

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Dead-Eye Sophie La Girafe

Ignoring all of that, my main issue with Sophie La Girafe is that she is dead behind the eyes… she looks through you like some sort of demon, her eyes are that of a Great White Shark, they are minus any pupil or iris colouring. Other toys have a highlight, or a colour to give them a kind open kind look – a friendly looking toy you could make a up a story about. Not Dead-Eye Sophie, she just stares at you with a blank look and a cocky grin, as if to say “Yeah you got sucked in by my ‘unique’ selling points – I am a squeaky dog toy. I am worth millions, you are not, you are a mere puppet of commercialism!”

Of course this could just be the ramblings of a jealous fella… why didn’t I think of marketing a dog toy for babies!

I’m off to find ‘the next big thing’ at Pets-R-Us