I’ll tell you what I love, shall I? Telly. I bloody love telly. To all those people who don’t own a television - and favour reading by candlelight, and lovemaking - I salute you, but it’s not for me. When I clock off from my half-hearted mothering efforts (at 7pm, and not a second later), Paul and I collapse on the sofa like the proverbial sack of spuds and watch TV until the day’s atrocities have faded, and I can dream about Come Dine With Me instead of my daughter stripping naked in a public park and pissing in the sandpit. Please, don’t begrudge me this. It’s either TV or crack.
What I watch isn’t remotely high-brow or cultural. It used to be. I used to watch movies with subtitles and shit, but now … now I watch The Only Way is Essex. I know! What could I possibly relate to in a programme about botoxed bitches with puppies in their handbags gossiping about who’s had it off with who? I’m not watching this solo - Paul loves TOWIE too. Yes! Our pillow talk isn’t about our children’s milestones, or the situation in Syria, but rather the strange allure of Pirate Pete and how we’ll never, EVER, recover from Joey swapping Essex for the jungle.
We also love - LOVE LOVE LOVE - Gogglebox, both the British AND Australian versions, primarily because we should be on it. PRODUCERS OF GOGGLEBOX: YOU NEED US. Seriously and for real. For starters, they need a Perth family. We’re a Perth family! Second, they need elderly hipsters of a certain age. We’re elderly hipsters of a certain age! And third, we’re fucking funny, especially when we’re drunk, and if you’re worried that we’ll be inappropriately dwarfist, or something, then don’t be, cos we’ll make a special effort to be polite about all people, even very small ones. Please can we be on Gogglebox?
My love of television goes way back. Way, way back. There wasn’t such a thing as ‘recommended screen time’ when I was a kid, and even if there was, my parents wouldn’t have enforced it, cos I’d have had a tantrum and turned pink. I had a TV in my room, and I used to watch it ALL THE TIME, and I’d even get up late at night to watch Carry On films, ‘cos I could. I’d wake up early in the morning to watch He-Man and She-Ra, and rush home from school to watch Happy Days and the Brady Bunch and Mork and Mindy. Paul did this too. In fact, when he started school, the teacher commented to his mum that he had astonishing general knowledge. And Grandma Carole said proudly: “Well, he does watch A LOT of television.”
It’s for this reason - and the fact that Paul and I both turned out kind of okay - that we don’t curb our own children’s television watching. Shock horror! My kids watch TV until their eyes go square and they think that Spanish is their mother tongue. There you have it. Judge me as you will.
To clarify, my kids aren’t watching TV all day, every day, but only because the little feckers get bored, and demand craft activities, or play-doh, or other interactive parental activities, at which point we switch off the TV and get out of the house, because I'm not having that mess in my living room, goddamit.
And they’re not allowed other forms of technology, cos we got that completely fucking wrong with Ben, and there’s no way our little kids are getting near an iPad or a PlayStation. That shit’s evil. But telly? Telly’s okay.
Hear me out here. One of the first lessons we taught our children is how to switch the TV on and find CBeebies at 5am. That is CLEVER PARENTING. The kids watch TV for a bit in the morning, and learn some shit from Andy on his wild adventures, and Justin in his house, and Baby Jake in his lighthouse, or windmill, or whatever, and eat their breakfast, and then we turn the TV OFF and we get ready and we get on with our day. (That makes it sound easier than it actually is, obviously. The mornings are like a fecking war zone. But you take my point.) And then we have an adventure (otherwise known as ‘collecting material for this blog’) and then I have a breakdown and then we come home and Alice has a nap. This is when Frankie watches TV, and swots up on his general knowledge, and his foreign languages, and his cooking skills (really, I can't recommend CBeebies highly enough).
What you’ve got to remember is this: MY KIDS DON’T GO TO DAYCARE. And I work from home. I need to work in that couple of hours when Alice sleeps and Frankie watches TV. TELEVISION IS A WONDERFUL BABYSITTER, and if you haven’t figured that out yet, then you’re missing a trick.
And and AND, after a wild and crazy morning, a couple of hours spent chilling out in front of Mister Maker and his gang is therapeutic. It’s EDUCATIONAL. Frankie relaxes, and eats fruit (yes, bitches, FRUIT), and learns important life skills, like how to turn an egg carton into a pretend sandwich, or something.
And then Alice wakes up and we pick up Ben from school and go to another park and have tea and do a bit of shouting and then it’s bath time and we don’t turn the telly back on until the kids are clean and in their pyjamas and need to wind down with a cup of tea and In the Night Garden. Is that so very, VERY bad? Nah, I dont think so either.