ONE day last week I looked up from my cup of tea to see Peppa Pig being locked in a cell by a skeleton after throwing an egg at a police car. No, this wasn’t some bizarre sleep-deprived mirage, it was what Santi somehow stumbled across on YouTube.
For the most part (like 99 per cent of the time), Santi is on the move. He has so much energy that it’s difficult to get him to sit still. As bad as I know it is to plonk him in front of the iPad, sometimes it’s a necessity to get things done. Breakfast, for example, would take about an hour if we couldn’t distract him with a programme or video while spooning his Weetabix in.
So most mornings we end up propping the iPad against an Aptamil milk box (who needs to pay for a fancy stand?!) for him to watch something while we get his breakfast sorted, make Ezra’s formula, pack the nursery bag for the day etc … Ok, and have a cup of tea while quickly checking Facebook without being dragged to play football or demanded to march across the dining room like soldiers. It just gives us a bit of time to get ourselves sorted.
But there are pitfalls to letting a toddler watch YouTube, as we’ve discovered…
I’ve admitted before that I’m a bit rubbish when it comes to nursery rhymes, so YouTube is great for re-learning the words to ones we should know. But do a search for nursery rhymes and I can guarantee you’ll end up with a video by Little Baby Bum. These are compilations of songs with cartoon videos that run for hours and include a mix of traditional and made up tunes. They’re bizarrely catchy, and you’ll suddenly realise you’re singing Jonny Jonny, Yes Papa (not a song I was familiar with) or the equally odd Let’s Drive in my Car in a weird accent even when the children aren’t around.
And we might start off with a request to watch The Wheels on the Bus (the one with the yellow bus, not the green one heaven forbid), but as Santi quickly worked out how to flick between videos and choose from the recommendation list along the side, we could end up with anything.
I caved and let him watch an episode of Peppa Pig a couple of months ago, not knowing just how irritating she is (actually, it’s the ridiculously arrogant and lazy Daddy Pig, the porky version of Homer Simpson, that I have the main issue with), and now her lovely piggy face appears all over the “you might also like” section. As soon as Santi spots her he forgets about all the other millions of videos he could watch without driving me crazy, and it’s all about chocolate cake and muddy puddles.
He remembers exactly which episodes he’s watched, and insists on finding particular ones (instantly, of course). We’ve had many frantic moments scrolling through a two-hour compilation to find “the one with the arm bands” before all hell breaks loose.
Also, it turns out not all of these videos are official, but Santi doesn’t know that as he randomly selects what to watch … And that’s how we ended up discovering Peppa the criminal. If you’d told me someone would actually go to the effort to create their own videos of that blasted pig family I’d have thought you were delusional. But it seems there are people with the time and energy to either act out episodes with toys, draw their own piggy adventures, or mash bits of animation together with the sole aim of making George cry for 15 minutes. If they seriously have that much time on their hands I wish they’d use it to come and clean for us. Although I did feel a glimmer of joy seeing Peppa locked behind bars … Maybe they could get rid of Miss Rabbit next.
The good thing about YouTube is that you have a whole world of videos at your fingertips … A whole world of steam trains, Kinder Egg unwrapping (thank God we haven’t come across these yet) and fully grown adults pretending to be Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen (I have no idea how we came across this, but it’s now banned).
Anyway, here are just some of the random videos YouTube has given us the joy of watching recently:
Fast train in Russia:
Exactly as it sounds. A fast train passing through a town in Russia. This video ends with a little boy shouting what sounds like “grooga” at the camera, which Santi finds hilarious. Of course. I thought we’d forgotten this little gem, but while watching the Olympics opening ceremony Santi thought the commentator was saying grooga instead of Cuba and it all came flooding back.
Snow White (in German):
Santi loves the song Heigh Ho from Snow White, but it turns out a video of this particular clip is harder to find than you’d think. We did come across the German version after a lot of searching, so Schneewittchen it was. He’ll be bilingual before we know it.
Thunderstorms in Arizona:
Santi is fascinated with rain at the moment – he lists all the things that get wet when it’s “raining pouring” or “just picking”, and likes to see lightning. So thunderstorms online it is. This is normal, right? Right?!
Trooping the colour:
Since going to a carnival the other week there has been a slight obsession with soldiers (hence the marching around the house). We once showed him the soldiers trooping the colour and it’s become a favourite – especially when the Beefeaters have drums or are on horses (or both!). Oh, and Santi now thinks my gran is the Queen…
To be honest, I’d take any of these over Peppa Pig! I was surprised at how quickly you can stray away from what you were originally watching, and wouldn’t leave the room for more than a few minutes if Santi has the iPad because you just don’t know what would pop up.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with a little song that we’ve watched a few times this week after going to a wedding where it was the first dance … Santi likes the split second shot of the soldiers (marching band). Enjoy!
What do your children like to watch? Do you end up with random selections like us?!