I love a bit of telly, who doesn’t? Even those who tell us from their soapbox how bad television is for us, surely love a bit of First Dates or Countryfile? Show me someone who says they don't love the comfort and familiarity of Antiques Roadshow and I’ll show you a liar.
So when Edie wants to watch TV/an iPad/my phone, I don’t really have a problem with it. In moderation I think TV has actually been a good learning source for her and also a godsend for us when we need to keep on top of the housework. Edie’s TV habits tend to build to a complete and utter obsession before quickly moving on to the next big thing. She’ll become fascinated by a particular show or film and watch it to death – knowing all the characters, the phrases and the storylines inside out, and just as we splash out on an expensive pile of plastic crap, she’ll move on to her next fixation!
I've grown quite fond of some of her shows, but there are a few that are just too much even for the most patient of parents (Bing for example – such a whiny little shit!). As well as a source of entertainment, information and relief to us, a small dose of TV also provides a level of comfort to her if ever feeling out-of-sorts – a cosy afternoon on the sofa fuelled by Calpol and Netflix is a modern day medical miracle! Now, I’m not advocating a childhood of pure TV addiction, I’m just a realistic parent who doesn’t need to pretend that children don’t watch TV, they do, and most of them want to, that’s a fact. With a generous helping of exercise and other entertainment such as arts and crafts, reading and play, I believe TV can be a useful addition to a child’s upbringing (especially when you need to hang the washing out!)
So, in what I think is some kind of sequential order (how could I forget), here are Edie’s favourite shows and films since she’s been a slave to the supposed idiot box:
In The Night Garden – is there a baby out there who hasn’t cooed and shrieked with delight at the sight of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka? In The Night Garden actually became part of our bedtime routine and I’ve got to say, I adored it as much as Edie! We all warmed to the sweet, calming jingle and its jolly characters, but most of all, just seeing young Edie’s face light up with delight each time she recognised the show was coming on, was enough to keep us tuning in for more.
Babe – an early favourite of Edie’s. Whilst she was too young to follow the story or sit through the entire film, she wasn’t too young to be fascinated by the talking animals and recurring daft fun – a lovely film!
Something Special – not everyone is a fan of Mr Tumble/Justin, but I am. Yes, he might be a little annoying sometimes, but the man is an absolute saint. His way with children less fortunate than ours is incredible and makes their learning and entertainment fun, friendly, accessible and interesting. Bravo Mr Tumble. Or is it Justin? Or is it Aunt Polly? I’m confused.
Peppa Pig – so many parents candidly bemoan Peppa, but to me I’ll always be a fan. I’m convinced the simple day-to-day phrases aided Edie’s ahead of schedule speech as she’d copy what she’d heard and before we knew it, we had an expert in muddy puddles and “lovely sunny days” on our hands. Edie’s speech obviously benefited from other methods, but Peppa kept it simple and fun. Also, with each episode only lasting 5 minutes, it was the perfect length to concentrate at such a young age.
Ben & Holly – this was the next logical step after Peppa I suppose, what with the same makers and cast broadening their horizons (and widening their wallets). This fascination didn’t last as long as the others weirdly, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Nanny Plum could get a little annoying but the simple tales encompassing the little kingdom could spark Edie’s imagination - 'no Edie, we won’t trim those overgrown brambles or kill those ugly nettles now submerging the garden, just in case a tiny fairy lives there!'
The Lion King – we’d watch this over and over again (skipping past any scary bits with Scar of course) and soon Simba not only ruled Pride Rock, but also our house. One of my favourite Disney films as I have fond memories of my little sister loving this film too, so I’m glad Edie fell in love with this charming tale.
Charlie & Lola – Edie watched Charlie & Lola at a young age and then dismissed it for a year or so. Then when she came back to it, our TV would burn its own hole in the ozone layer through repeated viewings. She loved it! As far as children’s shows out there go, this is one of the best. Lola’s personality is warm and cheeky but thank god for her older, more rational brother Charlie, reigning her mischievous ways in, just when it's required each time.
Toy Story 1, 2 & 3 – you could take the total amount of minutes we’ve watched all of the above mentioned shows, multiply that figure by 100 and you’d still be nowhere near how much Toy Story we’ve watched! Action packed, happy, sad, funny, clever but most of importantly, amusing to Edie. Despite seeing the films countless times, she still rolls around with laughter at her favourite bits and her imagination knows no boundaries – it’s ok to mix a dinosaur (Rex) with a piggy bank (Hamm), it’s ok to use a toy ironing board as a rocket powered skateboard zooming around the sitting room whilst wearing a half a swimming costume, a woolly hat whilst carrying a toy doctor's kit!
The Snowman / The Snowman and the Snowdog – this is ok to watch right, especially at Christmas? Is it ok to watch it 7 million times? No? Oh, sorry.
The Gruffalo / Gruffalo's Child / Room on the Broom / Stick Man - Julia Donaldson has not only monopolised the children's picture book market, she's now taking over the TV specials market too with these lovely adaptations of her brilliant tales. Great to see her books come to life, and rather than encourage more TV, Edie gets a sudden urge to dig out the written version to compare interpretations.
Little Princess – Edie’s latest obsession. I’m in two minds about this one… I think it’s got its merits – it’s funny, there’s plenty of silliness, there’s a brilliantly camp General, but worryingly the Little Princess herself is bit of a menace! Edie will come away from watching an episode announcing she’s a raging wild cave girl, or she doesn’t want this or she doesn’t want that. Perhaps we need to keep an eye on this one; leading characters have moved on a bit since the innocence of Igglepiggle.
On reflection, that seems like a lot of TV I've listed, but I think it’s good to remember Edie spends so much of her time outside dashing around our surrounding countryside. Plus, she loves to paint, she hosts huge tea parties for an array of teddies, random figurines and Buzz Lightyear and adores flicking through her library of books. So actually, combined with all of that, her time in front of the ‘idiot box’ has actually helped mould her into anything but an idiot.
Some light relief in front of the TV won’t hurt once in a while, but just be ready to control any negativities they learn, don’t let them work out how to use Netflix on their own (big mistake!) and whatever you do, don’t let them watch Bing! The little shit.