Ahh kids TV. The true line in the sand between those of us that are responsible for tiny humans, and those whose only responsibility is wiping up the vomit from their wild Tuesday night out.
Pre-kids you never watched it, unless you were taking some mind-altering concoction, and even then you weren’t really watching it were you? Because why would you need to watch something so anodyne, so vacuous, so pointless. You clearly have better things to do, like having lots of sex and drinking all the drinks in the minibar.
And I bet if you were to think about the hazy future where you might have offspring, you’d be thinking “I certainly won’t let them watch that crap”. I know, I was one of those clueless individuals that didn’t realise how much kids TV would take over, save and pollute my life all in one fell swoop.
Before I ejected my son from his comfortable intestinal palace I had so many high ideals about how my child would spend his days. He would be fascinated by the falling rain, spend hours building community centres out of Lego, paint me endless pictures where I looked skinny, friendly and beautiful. And of course he would sit contentedly doing these things whilst I devoted myself to preparing 100% organic farm-fresh meals that contained at least three vegetables.
18 months into parenthood, I can tell you that those false expectations have been well and truly squashed, as it turns out to cook a meal with even one vegetable requires at least three episodes of Baby Jake, or four of Teletubbies – and MUMMY THE BORING BIT’S ON AND I’M BORED ad infinitum.
Thank me later, but I reckon I’ve worked out where those false expectations of life come from – the source of all our heartbreaks and disappointments… it’s in the self-same place. Kids TV.
So here, for the sake of humanity, are the 14 ways kids TV will give you unrealistic expectations of life:
1. All women are thin and beautiful (but men are still interesting if they’re middling).
Let’s look at the case for the prosecution. On the side of the XX chromosome, we have Rebecca, Cat, Maddie, Katy, Gem, Nina… And for the boys, we have Justin, Old Jack and Grandpa In My Pocket. Excuse me if I tuck my ovaries back in, they’re getting no action here. Except when Dr Ranj comes on and then they sneak back out again. Oh and Mr Bloom. He can plough my furrow any time he likes.
2. Going to work is super mega fun.
If you’re a postman you get to fly a plane, pilot a helicopter, and charter a train – AND it totally doesn’t matter if it takes you ALL DAY to deliver one package. What matters to your line manager and the person waiting for the parcel within a specific delivery slot of 12 hours is that YOU helped Alf restart his engine, or chased down an errant ewe. Honestly.
3. Famous people just pop up all over the place.
Off the top of my head: Alexander Armstrong, Fearne Cotton, Lauren Laverne, Michael Palin, Mark Rylance, Lorraine Kelly, Kathy Burke… and if you met them in the street they’d REALLY want you to talk to them. Truly.
4. You can have a really rubbish skill and still be a superhero.
Kyan Go Jetter, I’m looking at you. Gymnastics is not a superhero skill. Spiderman is most definitely not quaking in his boots with that joker around. I’m sorry, Kyan, it’s never going to happen.
5. Your grownup will be obsessed with the well-being of TV presenters.
I have genuinely never worried so much about a person I have never met as much as I worry about Rebecca on CBeebies… is she eating enough, does she look tired, is she happy… (please let her be happy!).
6. Gardens are pristine all the time.
From Teletubbies at 7am to the Night Garden at 6:20pm (yeah so I know the CBeebies schedule off by heart – what of it!?) there is never so much as a blade of grass out of place. Has anyone ever seen a woodland glade as perfect as that sodding Night Garden. It defies the laws of photosynthesis for crying out loud! No sunlight could get through that dense canopy.
7. It’s acceptable for children so shout “yay” in a wholly false cheer kind of way all the time.
This is never acceptable in real life. Ever.
8. Learning is really AWESOME.
Alphablocks, Twirlywoos, Dinopaws, The Num Tums… So much fun! And then you realise that all this learning is going to be crowbarred out at various points in exam conditions, with no talking and the threat of emotional and financial ruin for the rest of your life… Are we still having fun? Thought not.
9. All programmes come from the UK, despite evidence to the contrary.
What do you mean you can see the mouths moving at a different rate to the speech in Waybuloo, or that the frame rate is different in Magic Hands – they’re speaking with British accents aren’t they??
10. Animals LOVE humans.
Sarah and Duck, Woolly and Tig, Abney & Teal… So why is it that Kitty won’t return your hugs when you rugby tackle it to the floor?? Kitty must be broken. Kiss Kitty better. NAUGHTY KITTY!
11. Grown-ups are always patient, positive and never ever have a bad day.
But we all know what’s going on behind the scenes… Flop and Padget? 100% at it like rabbits as soon as Bing is in bed. And Topsy and Tim’s parents are definitely into some sort of weird sex – no-one can be that calm without some sort of “outlet”. Fact.
12. Classic Children’s stories are full of derring-do, running and shouting.
Erm, no Peter Rabbit, get back in your burrow, this is an unacceptable reimagining of Mummy’s childhood. How rude.
13. Every single day something will happen that will blow your mind.
Particularly true of consumers of the big bad double PPs Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, but also true to a lesser extent of Baby Jake and Twirlywoos. Nothing will blow their tiny minds as much ever again.
14. Grown-ups will enjoy sitting with you to watch a cartoon of a toy dog.
Ahh, it turns out that will only happen if that toy dog happens to be Duggee. Which is flipping brilliant! How is it not on real telly?!
But the biggest unrealistic expectation is the one you have before kids TV enters your world, because once it’s there, it’s going to change – and save – your life over and over again. So lets all raise a sippy cup to that!
Heather Davies-Mahoney is a radio producer, who can’t help producing in her spare time too. So far she has produced a marriage, a mortgage, a mini-me and a mountain of possety muslins. In her NCT group she is the instigator of Boobs & Boxsets afternoons. You can follow her on Twitter and find more on her blog
Image credit: Alison McGarragh-Murphy