Lindsay Woods: 'Here’s the thing, you can’t programme a kid'

I honestly struggle to remember how we survived without having a facility to record multiple episodes of a rude little pig, with exceptionally broad vowels, when we had our first child. Realistically, it is not so much that I struggle to remember as that I want to obliterate such a heinous time from memory.

We had heard whispers of a magical, digital box with the means to store the entire back catalogue of CBeebies for our tiny Overlords’ perusal but alas, they had at that juncture yet to make it to our shores.

Therefore, our only means of back up entertainment came in the form of DVDs. I know, it hurts me to think about it too.

CBeebies content finished at 7pm each evening and did not begin again until 6am. In 2009 BRDB (Before Recordable Digital Box), you pretty much had to throw yourselves to the wolves if you did not have a substantial library of discs to fill the hours in between. Why?

Because this much I know; if a child is going to proceed to develop a bout of projectile vomiting which will leave you in awe as to the amount of same which they can generate, it will not be at 1pm on the weekend. No, it will be during the deepest, darkest hour of the night. Midweek.

When you have your child, star fished between you with a flannel on their forehead along with two plastic bowls in the hope of catching their emissions (you won’t), a stuffed bear and a cat pacing the room; you will concede to anything in the hope of catching five minutes of consecutive sleep to enable you to semi-function the next day.

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Mini Brynnie.

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This was how I came to know, word for word, the entire episode of Peppa Pig’s ‘International Day’. It had it all, cultural education, fractious and tense exchanges between rival countries and a catchy unifying little ditty called, ‘Peace and Harmony’.

It also had a massive scratch across the disc which prevented it from playing.

Prior to having children my messages to my husband were along the lines of: ‘What do you fancy for dinner? M&S have the ‘Dine for two’ on…’

Now, it was a terse request to pick up a replacement copy of the DVD on his way home with strict instructions to make certain that the aforementioned episode was included because, ‘It’s his favourite’.

‘What about YouTube?’ I hear you cry! Well, friends, like that elusive recordable box, offerings on YouTube were still slim pickings.

Unless, you wanted some badly dubbed Teletubbies episodes and some Thomas the Tank offerings, the quality of which made them look not unlike some budget war propaganda campaign, then you pretty much had to fall back on the heavy rotation of the preferred discs.

My eldest will turn 10 this year yet, sometimes, I feel as if he was born in the Dark Ages as a result of the above.

There was no ‘next day delivery’, no Amazon Prime and no ‘on demand’.

By the time my daughter arrived, the goalposts had moved considerably and she was able to view episodes of Madeline on a continual loop in between watching a woman open hundreds of Kinder eggs all the while reclining upon her sick bed (the plastic bowls still remained however).

We listened, slightly bemused, as friends who had just had their first child spoke of apps to denote their child’s leaps and regressions.

‘Why would you want to know when your kid is going to kick off on a particular day?’ whispered my husband. I shrugged my shoulders, unable to answer.

Was it reassurance? That, when the child was in the midst of a nuclear meltdown, the parent could consult the app and attribute the behaviour to a fussy week?

Everyone we met appeared to extoll the merits of such an app.

Not only did it appear that our entertainment methods were prehistoric, so to was our parenting.

After having children, and walking through the initial phases of their development, the good and the bad, I don’t think I could employ such faith in an app. Because here’s the thing, you can’t programme a kid. Furthermore, given the pure white-knuckle rage inducing episodes of which my toddler had been capable of, I fail to see the benefit in anticipating same via an electronic calendar.

Surely, all of this is yet another stick to beat ourselves up with as parents?

No app can prepare you for the absolute wail-fest when your husband returns with an alternative to the ‘International Day’ episode.

So, maybe ditch the app, upgrade your storage on the box, have the plastic bowls on standby and buckle up. Because, you’ll be the one there at 2am. Not the app.

@thegirlinthepaper

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