Yesterday, after nursery school, Rosemary wanted to watch Willy Wonka (for like the gazillionth time in a week). So, on it went and I started pottering around getting a bit of washing-up done (dishwasher is on the blink, and we’re waiting until we get back from France before calling in an engineer), putting some washing on and so on and so forth. I came through to the living room :
Rosemary: I don’t want to watch this.
Mummy: OK, do you want me to fast-forward to where they go into the factory?
Rosemary: No, thank you. I don’t want to watch it.
Mummy: Oh, OK. [Takes DVD out and puts it back in case. Then picks up remote controls and starts to put Tiny Pop on.]
Rosemary: No! Turn it off, Mum! I don’t want to watch TV. I want to play.
Mummy: [Falls over backwards. Switches TV off and plays.]
I had conflicting feelings here. On the one hand I was proud and not a little pleased that Rosemary was willingly turning the TV off to do something more worthwhile. On the other hand I was concerned at how her vehemence suggested that I sit her in front of the TV far too much. And on someone else’s hand, I did kind of want to finish the chores.
We played for about an hour. Played catch with the (In The Night Garden!) beach ball. Played doctors and chemists with Tiger (just a plain old tiger, nothing to do with any TV show at all – as far as I know, anyway). Read an alphabet book with sliding doors where Rosemary told me all about the letter E, which is for Eva (my sister) and Ear and Elephant and did I know that they learnt about the letter E at nursery school today? Gosh. Telling me what she did at nursery school, instead of her usual response ‘Shh. It’s a secret. I might tell you later.’ Played some more catch.
When the hour was up, she asked if she could have a biscuit, a cup of milk and watch some TV. I was more than happy to oblige. And got the washing-up finished and the dinner on, while she did that.
Now I know lots and lots of you had the same idea as me when they were first pregnant. No TV ever. Or maybe half an hour, twice a week. And I know most of you, like us, gave in fairly quickly. We all turn our noses up at the parents who use the TV as a babysitter and wonder why they aren’t reading more books. Until we really, really need a break one day and discover the wonders of CBeebies. Which, you know, is really educational. Mr Tumble teaches you sign language. Big Cook and Little Cook teach you how to cook and, even more importantly, tidy up afterwards. Mama Mirabelle teaches you about animals all over the world. And Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy teach you to embrace the bizareness of your dreams. Or something.
Or was that just me?