I hate children’s TV. Was never a massive fan back in the 70’s. Even when there were only 3 channels. And since having children myself, I detest the damned thing even more. I despise the way we are faced with non-stop (mostly) utter drivel that turns my offspring into gaping, gawping, lethargic and moronic pixies. I abhor the fact that when you try and turn the box off my already hyper-brood morph into evil little harpies from hell.)
The Antichrist? Or Radio 4…
Still, I wouldn’t go to the other extreme and claim that The Telly per se Is A Medium Of The Antichrist. The TV can be an utterly fantastical learning opportunity for both parents and kids. *If* you do your best to steer away from 95% of kiddy-oriented crap.
So in short, we don’t ‘do’ kiddy TV very much. And certainly not in the mornings.
What do we do instead? Well, with a 5 yr old boy up just before 6am every day, we were definitely not up for the ‘let’s spend quality time together and practise our swahili!’ approach. We had to do something (other than locking the little git in the coal shed). And as we are big radio-fans, our original approach was to try out Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme. But in the end it worried us that the kid couldn’t tell the difference between Evan Davies and John Humphrys. And it got to us that he wouldn’t stop shrieking ‘Turn it Off! It’s those men that make daddy shout and swear and then he burns the toast!”
So then it was a move onto brekkie with Classic FM. After a few mornings of tears and protest-esque grebbing in their bowls of coco pops (8 year old girl “this music is made by like.. people who want you to fall asleep over your cereal”) they finally accepted this new development.
But please believe me. This Classic FM 45 mins each morning is NOT us trying to hot-house our kids into becoming some kind of classical musical prodigies. I would be quite happy if their only forte in all things musical turns out to be a penchant for the theme music to the Harry Sodding Potter movies. The sole reason that we crank up the radio is that the classical music definitely takes the edge off the morning crabbiness and the tendency to handcuff themselves to the hostess trolley so that they don’t have to go to school.
Adult Humour For The Kiddies…
If the wee blighters are ready on time, they are allowed to catch 5 or 10 minutes of ‘grown up TV’. (Not the news headlines. “It makes mummy get really evil. Or cry.”
So sometimes we have Sherlock Holmes On The Box (the old stuff – Jeremy Brett et al) but usually we revert to comedy. ‘Father Ted’, ‘Open All Hours’, ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ and ‘Frasier’ might not be the favourite programmes of your average 8 year old and 5 year old but in our house, they are objects of veneration.
And mediums of education. Although not quite in the way that you might think. In a recent episode of ‘Frasier’, the star of the show caught a glimpse of himself looking rather un-cool and old-fashioned and muttured to himself “Good God! I’m Anne Shirley!” My girl thought that this was hilarious. I didn’t get the joke – the cultural reference was above and beyond me. She said “Muuum – you know – in Anne of Green Gables…”
(I had no idea, to tell you the truth. I didn’t do any of the children’s classics as a kid. I tell you – those audio books were the best investment ever and got me out of many a bedtime story-telling session…)
But this morning the bloody horse racing schedule had altered our usual ten minute glance of adult comedy. ‘Cheers’ was on instead, for the first time.
And here goes our script when the kids began to that genius programme for the very first time’…
Cheers for the Cha-Chas…
5 yr old Boy: HEY! What’s Frasier doing in this programme?
8 yr old Girl: Wow – yeah! That’s weird! Go back to your own show, you show-stealer!
Me: Oh, this is the series that first created the ‘Frasier’ character. The writers really liked him in this one. So they decided to make another set of shows where he was the main star.
5 yr old Boy: But where’s Niles?
Me: Niles isn’t in this one. It’s just Frasier, see? Niles comes later. In the ‘Frasier’ show.
8 yr old Girl: I like Frasier. He’s a …– a Si-kie ,.. a Sike…a whatever you call it. Doctor for your head when you’re acting a bit differently.
Me: (pleased that she used the world ‘differently’) The word is a ‘psychiatrist.’
8 Yr old Girl: Well I wish they would send him to our school. We’ve got some right weirdos in our class. Especially that Bradley Morris*. He needs his head sorting out, he does. He’s got something wrong up there I think. Tap-tap Whirly Whirly…Do you know what he did the other day in the boy’s toilets? He got some of the….
5 yr old Boy: (interrupting her) Are they all drinking beer? Can I have some for my breakfast tomorrow?
5 yr old Boy: And where’s Daphne?
8 Yr old Girl: Daphne’s not in it, you doofus. She’ll be in the ‘Frasier’ one with Frasier. I like Daphne ‘cause she’s from Round ‘Ere int’ she mum?
Me: Yes, Rochdale’s not so far away from us.
5 Yr old Boy: I like Daphne because she’s got nice Cha-Chas.
Me: (a bit shocked) Nice WHAT?
8 yr old Girl: It’s a word for BOOBIES. The barman on this Cheers show call ladies’ boobies ‘Cha Cha’s’
5 yr old boy: Cha Chas, Cha Cha’s, Cha Cha’s, Cha Cha’s…
Me: (switching TV off) Right! That’s enough for now. We’ll miss the school bell if we don’t go now…
*Child’s name has been changed in order to protect his identity and his sheer stupidity in attempting to flush several copies of those Rainbow Fairy books down the boys toilet. Though to be honest, I can’t say that I blame him…