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Monday, February 11, 2013

There's no doubting the influence of television on the impressionable young minds of small children. Not only has Amelie taken on the mannerisms of Homer Simpson, but having recently become obsessed with SpongeBob SquarePants, she's now started questioning her parents' actions with the words "What in tarnation?". Which is a phrase used by Sandy Cheeks the squirrel. Or so I'm informed.

Mind you, Amelie's no stranger to saying ridiculous things. Only this morning she turned to Lisa and exclaimed "Take off your glasses and call me Roger!", and we've no idea where she got that from. Lisa doesn't even wear glasses. Although she does have glaucoma in the family.

Yesterday, however, the situation reached a whole new level with the unexpected televisual trauma of Toby. Lisa had gone to church (I think she had a lot to confess), so I spent the morning diligently caring for Toby in the only way I know how: from the safety of another room. I was actually changing the sheets on our bed, so I left my son in the living room, strapped into his bouncy chair and positioned in front of CBeebies.

Five minutes later, I was busy wrestling with a duvet cover in the next room when I heard Toby's happy gurgles turn into a cry of pure terror. I assumed he must have stabbed himself in the eye with the terrible claws of a Gruffalo, so I turned as white as the sheet I was changing, and ran into the living room expecting to see blood on the carpet. What I found was this...

That's Squiglet, star of the CBeebies show 'Get Squiggling', a programme which teaches toddlers how to draw. Opinion is divided over its gender. Amelie and I think it's female, while Lisa and my Mum insist that it's male. I've come to the conclusion that it's some kind of he-she intersex creation designed to teach children about art in an all-inclusive non gender-specific kind of a way. It's basically Tony Hart for a new generation.

Unfortunately, to a small child, it's terrifying. I found Toby sitting in his chair, transfixed by the sight of a dancing Squiglet, screaming his head off and shaking with fear. Even when I picked him up and calmed him down, he continued quivering, open-mouthed, as he stared at the screen. The trouble is, if you're terrified of CBeebies, there's not really anywhere left to go. Your non-threatening viewing options are going to be somewhat limited unless the BBC brings back the test card. And even then, that clown doll was pretty creepy.

Anyhoo, if there's one thing I've learnt, it's that the best way to get over a traumatic experience is to stuff yourself with food. So having assured Toby that the nasty Squiglet's not going to get him, I packed the boy into his car seat, picked up Lisa from church, and drove the pair of them over to my parents' house for lunch. Amelie had gone on ahead of us, partly to get first dibs on the roast potatoes, but mainly to give me enough time to write an eleven-hundred word history of retinal screening in Brighton, which I completed on Saturday afternoon. It would have been a thousand words, but I added a few jokes.

So with that done, we joined her yesterday lunchtime for a slap-up feed and a demonstration of her new Space Hopper. Which is now called a 'Funny Face Hopper' due to the closure of the space shuttle programme. Lunch was finished by two-thirty, despite my three helpings of dessert, but we ended up staying until the evening. With torrential rain all day, it was the perfect chance to test my brand new, extra grippy tyres, so we decided to wait until the roads were properly flooded. And suffice it to say, I wasn't disappointed. Except by the absence of a rudder. Frankly I've been on shallower boating lakes. We made it home in one piece, but I kept expecting to be pulled over by the coastguard or boarded by pirates. If only we'd taken Chloe, we could have filmed the sequel to 'Life of Pi'.


Peter Chapman said...

Disappointing. VERY disappointing. This was the perfect blog entry to drop in a link to a certain 'Art Attack' video doing the rounds on Facebook! Toby would love it.

Phil said...

I was genuinely tempted. In fact I spent most of the afternoon considering it. But in the end I felt I also had to consider the number of vulnerable pensioners who read this blog, and whether I could ever look them in the eye again. Hence my decision not to.

Phil's Mum said...

Another instance of the Driver Protection Angel being too busy to also be the Parking Angel!

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