Last time, I wrote about how sadly I’ve watched our younger one struggle with lockdown, and how his behaviour has regressed back to the emotion-driven reactions of his preschool years (click here if you missed it). But this week, I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit to this regression – CBeebies is back on the TV menu!
I thought I’d lost it. The eternal positivity and ever-smiling faces of the presenters, and the knowledge that every single moment carries some sort of educational value, made it my go-to place when the boys were preschoolers. Many a time has my sanity been saved by those wonderful people, and I was genuinely sad when both boys gave it up for the chaos of CBBC.
Sure, there were some programmes I found quite irritating – I could quite happily boot the characters of Everything’s Rosie off a cliff – but there are some real gems in there, Hey Duggee being the brightest among them. So my joy when he asked for a particular programme this week, that hadn’t graced our screen for a couple of years, was unbounded. Bing, the little rabbit who’s constantly coming up against various pitfalls of growing from a toddler to a preschooler, can be a divisive character. Some parents love him, and some hate him – but two of the things I love most about him is that his caregiver is voiced by Mark Rylance, and the ice cream seller is none other than Mrs Doyle from Father Ted. It’s these little things that make those long days of toddlerhood pick up a little pace.
Mr RLC questioned why both boys (because I’ve even caught the older one casting a crafty glance and a grin at the TV when it’s on) would want to watch that stuff now. Well, I replied, they are watching Bing’s scrapes through a different lens from the first time round. They now have the world-weary eyes of the school age child, who has experienced these challenges and come out the other side, feeling like a graduate from that development stage. And all of those challenges are safe ground for them – toilet training, sharing, going down a slide for the first time – these are all problems that they know how to tackle, have overcome and can look back at with satisfaction about their achievement. At no point are they forced to confront the strange times we’re in now.
I read something recently that suggests people who suffer from anxiety (such as I do myself) are happy to watch their favourite TV shows and movies over and over again, because there isn’t a shred of anxiety at all about what the outcome would be. I shared that thought with my sister, who also suffers, and she replied: “OMG – I feel both understood and screwed up all at the same time!”. And I think it’s what’s going on here, too: CBeebies is from a time in their lives which feels safer than now does, so that’s where they want to go. I’m delighted to be there with them for as long as they need to stay.
Plus they run a regular song about what day it is, which is unbelievably helpful at the moment.