If ever there was a convincing argument against evolution, it’s babies.
For years now, the majority of us have gladly accepted the genius of Charles Darwin’s theories, merrily accepting the idea of survival of the fittest and gradual adaptation of each species to their environment. We consider ourselves, humans, the most successful of all, with only the Creationists and a few other mad conspiracy theorists daring to contradict the father of evolution.
Yet, all anyone needed to do to undermine Darwin’s genius was shove him in a room with a baby for a few months. He, presumably, was too busy conducting actual scientific research to deal with nappies and weaning, but had he had the time, surely he would have realised his theories had no basis in reality.
For a start, let’s take sleep. If ever there is a time in the human life cycle where sleep is crucial, it is in those first few years; years of huge physical, emotional and mental development, all requiring large amounts of sleep. If evolution was true, surely human infants would have evolved to be able to…well…sleep! How can a species which has the capacity to build cities, create the internet, produce Shakespeare, not evolve in a way which allows a baby who needs to sleep to go the **** to sleep?! Did Darwin ever spend endless hours in the midst of the night, pacing back and forth, bleary-eyed whispering ‘it’s ok, I’m here, go to sleep, please go to sleep, pleeeeeeeease go to sleep!!!’, or arguing with a toddler who screams ‘but I’m NOT tiiiiired’, while sprawled across the floor, yawning and rubbing their eyes so much you think they may actually rub them out? I think not, or surely it would have blown a substantial hole in his theory that animals adapt to meet their own basic needs.
Unconvinced? Let’s consider teething. When all the other bones and vital organs have developed in the womb, teeth are left to the outside world. Perhaps this is deliberate? It allows for easier suckling in the early days (Ha! We’ll come to that later). Yet how can a system of development which causes infinite amounts of pain to a child be a result of millions of years of careful natural development? Aside from the total bewilderment of a poor, miserable child who cannot possibly comprehend what is happening to them, it once again brings us back to sleep, or rather the lack thereof. Screaming baby = no sleep for anyone = bad backs and grumpiness for the parents = miserable family = very poor design.
Finally, let’s look at movement. Ever watched a nature documentary where a baby giraffe is born? We might coo and aww, giggling slightly as it tries to stand and inevitably stumbles over its newborn, gangly and cumbersome limbs. ‘Aww bless, it can’t stand up’. Erm, yes it can! It might be wobbly, but 2 minutes out of the womb and it’s already on the move. Give it a few days and it’ll be walking miles to find food and water. Our lazy offspring laze around, crying for attention, and half of them can’t even eat properly when a nipple full of milk is shoved right into their open gobs. How is that the result of years of careful natural selection? Is that really the best we can do? If humans have truly evolved to be so successful over the years, surely they should be born, jump onto their feet and head straight to the fruit bowl to help themselves to a banana before coming over to snuggle up with a calm, contented and rested parent.
Sorry Darwin, I’ve always believed you, but I can’t ignore the evidence of my own experience. If babies were designed, the poor designer who presented them to the boss would be promptly kicked out of the board room: “Come back when you’ve figured out how to stop it defecating everywhere, and, for God’s Sake, surely the sound department can come up with something that doesn’t grate quite so much on the ears!”.
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!