My children do watch television. I feel like I’m outing myself in some sort of internet based confessional and very shortly the proper parents will be round to remove the offending box from my living room. The reality is I think most of us make good use of the TV from time to time. But like anything else that you know is probably bad for you television is a slippery slope. I started with a bit of Cbeebies, nice educational programmes that, with the exception of Dirt Girl World, I didn’t have a problem with.
Has it really changed that much?
But then we discovered Nick Jr and the joys of Peppa Pig on a loop, intercepted only by Nanny Plum and friends on my favourite kids programme Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. So far, so sweet and innocent. But then Eliza figured out how to use the remote and all of a sudden there’s a plethora of, for want of more enlightened word, crap on television in the endless list of children’s channels.
My God the ads! They are never ending. And they’re not just endlessly Lelli Kelly or absurdly realistic and frankly scary dolls that wee and cry and scream and vomit. They’re for household products, because of course the only other person watching this type of telly will be mums, because of course all mums do is wash, clean, cook and look after the kids right? Maybe several decades ago. Yes my inner-feminist is coming out again. I put my foot down and limited the TV to Cbeebies but the damage has apparently been done.
The other morning as I was getting dressed upstairs I could hear Eliza crashing about downstairs in the kitchen. So I went down to see what was going on.
“Darling what are you doing?” I said as I saw her, in what we euphemistically call the utility room but is actually a badly converted garage, sweeping something up.
“I found some snow mummy and I’m just clearing it up.” She was rather surprised to see me.
“Really? was it the squirty cream?” My heart sank.
“No Mummy, it was like um, er, a chemical.” Holy shit! Cue my very calm but deeply panicky voice.
“Ok darling, now can you show me exactly what is was that you sprayed in here?”
“No Mummy I’m not telling, its a secret.”
So I went and sniffed it. There was no mistaking the chemical vapours. I went into the kitchen and there on the side next to the sink was the bright pink can of Vanish Carpet Cleaner (I mean really, all little girls like pink for God’s sake, they may as well have covered it in smarties).
“Was it this that you sprayed darling?” Thanking God that she hadn’t thought it was the squirty cream as that would have been really frightening.
“Yes Mummy.” She looked very proud with herself.
“It’s Vanish carpet cleaner Mummy and it’s got oxygen in it and it cleans the carpet which was very dirty.”
“How do you even know that?” My interest in how she had come by this precise information overriding my panic/concern that she had sprayed it everywhere.
“It said on the telly.”
Of course it bloody did.
Now there’s an argument here that this was all my fault, for a) letting her watch television and b) not putting decent locks on the cleaning cupboard. It’s interesting though. When you consider all the millions of pounds that companies spend on advertising it is a 4 year old girl who is most convinced by it. It’s all just white noise to me but to her impressionable little mind it’s far worse, it’s actually interesting.
On the strength of this conversation I am now wrangling with my morals over whether to ditch Sky. On the plus side is no more crap children’s TV channels with endless advertising but on the down side is no more Mad Men, which would be devastating for me.