Whenever my children act out scenes from their favourite CBeebies shows, they’re keen to make sure I don’t feel excluded. It’s sweet of them. I mean, I’d really rather not hare about being Little Cook with the wooden spoon I’m meant to be cooking with rammed between my legs, but still. “Go, Small, go, whizz away!” they say. And okay, secretly I enjoy it.
At the moment Chuggington and Octonauts are the faves, and everyone has a role. With Chuggington, my sons are Wilson and Brewster, my partner is Koko and I get to be Dunbar. With Octonauts, the little ones are Kwazii and Peso, Daddy is Doctor Shellington and I’m Captain Barnacles. And yes, if I’m honest, I do feel a bit smug about all this. In both of these scenarios I’ve been allotted the role of official leader.
I don’t know how to interpret this, or what it says about how my sons understand Mummy and Daddy’s roles within the family. Is it good that I’m being seen as top dog? Does this suggest we have a non-traditional set-up? Does it mean I’m leader of the domestic sphere and hence in fact very traditional? Or do I just look like a cross between a diesel shunting engine and a polar bear?
I was thinking about this in Next today when I spotted a couple of T-shirts in the kids’ section. There were two of them, with the following captions:
- I love Mummy, she makes me smile
- I love Daddy, he’s my hero
Brilliant, bloody brilliant. So Daddy’s the one-off, the original, the person like no other who saves the day. And Mummy, meanwhile, is vaguely amusing, rather like a clown slipping on a banana skin. Well that’s just great. Thanks a million, Next.
Does Captain Barnacles make people smile? Does Dunbar inspire mild mirth in the trainee chuggers? I think you’ll find they don’t. These are authoritative, serious people / shunting engines / polar bears. When my children think “mummy”, that’s what they see. Someone who manages the Octopod with confidence and vision, so that all may explore, rescue and protect. Someone who keeps the trainee chuggers on the straight and narrow, always hooked up to the correct hopper cars. That’s what a mother is. Not someone who’s there for amusement, but someone who’s there to help sea creatures in trouble and ensure that Wilson and Brewster get to the quarry on time. Got that, Next? Mummies are complex creatures, and don’t you forget it.
Of course, I have now just discovered that Dunbar gets written out of Series 3 of Chuggington and replaced by someone I’ve never heard of called Skylar. What’s all that about? And when it comes to our family, who could the Skylar figure be? Am worried now. This wasn’t meant to happen. Think I’ll go back to just making people smile.