In the fug of very early morning not long ago, when everyone's nerves were frayed after a night of waking/crying/sleeping (a bit)/waking/wanting to get up and play/coming into Big Bed and kicking mummy in the head until 5.45am (at which point mummy gave up and came downstairs, it was my flippin' turn), I resorted to Cbeebies to help lull the babies into the sort of semi-hypnotic state I could cope with.
I know, I know.
In some people's books this no doubt makes me a bad parent. But seriously, sometimes I thank the lord for children's programmes – and 6am on a Tuesday, with two not-very-well rested toddlers, was one of those times.
Anyway, even if most don't EVER resort to the TV that early in the morning, I'm sure many parents of two-year-olds must know who The Tweenies are. Ava loves them – not least because of the frequency with which they sing There's a Worm at the Bottom of the Garden.
They might be weird (a bit terrifying actually) with their giant heads and feet, fixed staring eyes and ridiculous hair-dos, but I always figured they're harmless enough – even a bit sweet with their craft activities and wiggly dance moves.
I was wrong.
By the time those little rotters were turning my TV screen multi-coloured, I was putting on make-up wonkily and half listening to their conversation. It took me a minute to comprehend what I was hearing.
If you don't know already, one of the 'adult' Tweenies is a character called Max. I'm not sure if Tweenie years work like dog years, but if he was human I would put him at about 60, maybe a bit more. Max had kindly agreed to go to the supermarket because the Tweenies had run out of some things. On the list was orange juice, lollipops and sausage rolls.
No sooner had he left than the verbal grandad-bashing began. It was relentless! With absolutely no regard for the fact that Max manages to care for them on a daily basis and none of them had been, I don't know, accidentally buried alive, or shut in the fridge or fed dog biscuits for lunch, the Tweenies still clearly considered their more senior friend to be completely and utterly senile. What's more, they thought it was hilarious!
They giggled as they discussed the likelihood of him forgetting to get a trolley. They had no faith in his ability to navigate his way around the supermarket ("He'll get confuuuuuuused! Tee hee hee!"). They thought he might not be able to pick out the sausage rolls at the deli counter because he'd get muddled by all the things on display. They were convinced he wouldn't remember, despite telling him about nine times, that their favourite orange juice was the one with the blue lid and a picture of (wait for it) an orange on the front. And when he took longer than they expected, they were sure he must have got lost on his way home.
Now, I never expected to feel sorry for a Tweenie (because they're not real and, perhaps because of that, they seem to live pretty charmed lives) but, having actually been sent a little mental at the hands of two toddlers myself, my sleep-deprived brain was a bit outraged. I mean, Max wears some pretty snazzy waistcoats as it goes – and he drives an MG!
I didn't want my girls thinking anyone with a little silver hair would be incapable of telling a sausage roll from a hunk of ham. And if Nana told them she was popping out to the shop, would she be met with looks of genuine concern for her safety?! I've got some white hair (far too much – I blame the babies): were they already suspecting I was a lollipop short of a teddy bears' picnic?
The makers of said programme redeemed themselves by scripting Max's safe return with all three (count 'em) items on the list. I would have banned the Tweenies there and then, but I enjoy seeing the reactions of human passers by in the background too much.
Well Tweenies, that was strike one. Two more and you're out!