It’s that time of year when normally rational and intelligent people suddenly become bumbling idiots, unable to comprehend events which have happened, without fail, year in year out throughout their entire lives.
“I can’t believe how dark it is!”
“It’s weird because it’s six o’clock, but really it’s five o’clock. But really, it’s like six o’clock”
“I guess I’m hungry because really, it’s sort of tea time in my world.”
“I know why it’s light, but I just don’t really believe it. You know?”
If you you haven’t heard variations on the above phrases, you must live in a hole. A really deep hole which is not penetrated by light. A hole in which time does not exist.
There is, however, one group who remain largely unaffected by the clocks going back: parents. Specifically, parents of young children. While the rest of the world lazed around in their PJs on Sunday morning, enjoying the benefits of that extra hour in bed, we were up as normal. Toddlers could not care less about that extra hour, if anything they take the opportunity to get up even earlier. If the whole country can mess around with time just to suit itself, why not children? Sod 6am – why not get up at 5? Or even 4? Not that this will have any impact on bed time of course. No self respecting toddler would go to bed at 8pm if they could stay up dancing until midnight (oh habits of our twenties, how you come back to bite us on the ass!)
If you find yourself up with your offspring in the ungodly hours of the morning, while the rest of the world snoozes on oblivious, there is only one answer: TV. More specifically: In the Night Garden. Other TV may well suffice, but only In The Night Garden, with it’s soothing plinky plonky noises and the deep chocolate tones of Derek Jacobi will both entertain the little one while allowing you to peacefully doze through the mind bogglingly dull adventures of a group of oversized stuffed toys.
So, last week, I found myself sprawled face down on the sofa while my two year old hit me repeatedly on the back screeching ‘Look Mummy! Tombliboos!’ with a level of noise and enthusiasm which should surely be illegal before 8am.
Peering up to deliver the cursory ‘oh yeah’ I realised something. Through my bleary, barely conscious eyes, with just a one second glance, I knew I had seen this episode before. It was the one where one of the Tombliboos steals all the Pinky Ponk juice.
I bloody hate that episode. This selfish, irresponsible little wretch wanders around happily thieving from all of his friends while they innocently play, unaware of his criminal shenanigans. Eventually, the self-serving little blighter drinks so much of everyone else’s Pinky Ponk Juice that he becomes ill. Once he is discovered, rather than being reprimanded or punished or left to suffer the illness he has inflicted upon himself, the others prance around him, desperately trying to cheer him up. He learns no lessons about theft, gets free entertainment and presumably doesn’t even have to wash up the cups. What kind of message is this sending to our children? Especially ones like mine whose lazy, slovenly parents allow them to watch this exact episode on a seemingly regular basis?
Annoyed, I dragged my carcass into a sitting position to watch and see what other morally questionable lessons Derek Jacobi and the Night Garden residents were teaching my son.
Then there it was. The ending, and the clue as to the cause of all my sleep deprived nights.
“Somebody’s not in bed.
Who’s not in bed?
Iggle Piggle’s not in bed.”
Here, in a programme ostensibly designed to help send young children off to sleep, was the central character charging around well after story time, hiding behind trees and refusing to go to bed.
Once spotted, Iggle Piggle flops to the ground where he stands and is told softly by Jacobi’s satin tones: ‘Don’t worry Iggle Piggle’ as he too, gets away with whatever he wants.
Suddenly, it all made sense. The bed time antics. The sneaking around after dark. Regularly finding my son sleeping in corridors and on bedroom floors, clutching toys, water bottles and blankets; basically collapsing unwillingly into sleep anywhere other than the warm, comfortable bed we had spent time and money putting together for him.
I turned to him slowly, regarded his delighted grin with mistrust and said:
“Iggle Piggle doesn’t go to bed, does he?”
“No!” he replied with glee.
“Is this where you learned it from?” I asked outright.
He turned to me, slowly drew his fingers from where they had been stuffed in his mouth, grinned a cheeky, slobbery grin and screeched:
And so it was that I discovered the great CBeebies conspiracy. Children’s entertainment? Public Service Broadcasting? I’ve seen through you and your game. Make a programme to get kids off to sleep, teach them bad sleep habits, then tired, desperate, sleep deprived parents will sit them right back in front of the very programme which caused it all in the first place just to get a few moments peace! The irony. It’s genius!
Well Jacobi, you may have fooled us before, but I’ve seen through you now, and there’ll be no more Pinky Ponk Juice in our house!