E+E Column: The Power of the Box

If you are the parent of young children or indeed, have spent any time around them, then you’ll know that they can have a tendency to get a little bit obsessive about things. Sometimes, these things are odd but mostly harmless; they want their toast cut into triangles not rectangles, they line up their toys in a specific order or they insist on performing the exact same bedtime exchange with you night in, night out. Sometimes however, their obsession can impact on the rest of the family. It can consume their every waking thought and brings parents to tears and threats of drastic action (well, maybe it’s not quite that bad!)…

I’m talking, of course, about TV shows. Over the last six years, this has happened a fair few times. A program is watched on Cbeebies or Netflix and grabs their attention. Next time the box is on, they ask for the next episode…and then the next, and then the next. Before you know it, every member of the household can recite vast chunks of dialogue from these inane, irritating shows. The characters often have silly names, the plot lines are formulaic and repetitive. And invariably, the theme tune always manages to worm it’s way into your mind and takes hold.

Favourite shows have come and gone in this house. We’ve had hours of Peppa Pig episodes, a love of Mister Maker, a brief flirtation with Thomas, an obsession with Topsy and Tim and their friends and an affair with Bing. These obsessions grip them for a weeks or months, they don’t want to watch anything but the chosen show, they talk about the characters when you’re on the bus or going for a walk, they reenact their favourite storylines at the park with each other. And then, as suddenly as it started, it’s over. They’re not bothered about watching it anymore, they inject some variety into their scheduled screen time again. A sigh of relief descends among the adults.

I need to remember this when we’re in the midst of such an obsession as we are at the moment. Currently, it is all about Paw Patrol (we’ll be there on the double!) I have been subjected to retellings of their favourite episodes, instructed to call them downstairs with the patented catch phrase (‘just yelp for help’), I know all the names of the pups and whose is whose favourite (it changes daily). Each morning, the first words that Isaac breathes are often ‘Can I watch paw patrol?’ I feel like we can’t escape Ryder and his team!

But I know that we will. Before too long they’ll grow bored of watching the same shows over and over again and will move on. They’ll start to choose different shows each time we pop on the TV, they might actually want to watch a movie with me again! But for now, I guess I have to just tolerate, if not embrace, the latest obsession. Or, alternatively, find some cleaning jobs to do upstairs every time that theme tune starts playing….

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