Sunday 18 August 2019

All hail Peppa Pig, the 'toddler crack' standing between many parents and complete nervous breakdown

There's only one small, bossy little pig and her charming family standing between Julia Molony, her toddler, and total domestic meltdown

Peppa Pig
Peppa Pig

If, in the future, science ever advances to the point where it becomes an option to be reborn as a fictional character after death, I'm coming back as Mummy Pig.

Peppa Pig (the television show in which Mummy Pig takes a supporting, but crucial role) is like pinworms - if you've ever come into contact with preschool-age children, you'll have been exposed. The show's ubiquity among its target age group is so complete, it's almost mythical.

It's also (and this is probably connected to the previous point) quite often credited as the single thing standing between many parents and complete nervous breakdown.

Why? Because it's toddler crack, that's why. They must be putting sinister subliminal messages in it that get them hooked. Because the hypnotic hold it has over the minds of small children is so powerful, it is both fascinating and frightening to behold.

One minute, it's business as usual, round ours. Which is to say, calamity on roller skates. The toddler is tearing around the house, committing random acts of anarchy - emptying bank cards from my purse and posting them through the gaps between the floorboards; using the contents of the condiments cupboard to customise the soft furnishings, etc, etc...Meanwhile, I'm shredding my spirits on the devil's treadmill, cleaning and putting away dirty dishes at a rate that is about a tenth of the speed at which they are produced.

But then I wilt, and switch on Peppa Pig. The song comes on, and it's like that scene in Zoolander where Ben Stiller has been brainwashed, and, on hearing the first bars of Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, he flips in a heartbeat from fluffy male model into highly-trained ninja assassin. It's just like that. Except the Peppa theme tune transforms my toddler from his usual self into something so contrary to natural law, it's downright freaky. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he is rendered placid, immobile, quiet.

Quite disturbing. But also extremely convenient. In moments of true edge-of-sanity desperation, Peppa Pig is an off-button that you can push, delivering five minutes of guaranteed peace. Five precious minutes that, more often than not, I'll squander, panic-reading scare stories on my iPhone about how letting your kids watch Peppa Pig causes behavioural problems. But still...

So despite the fact that it might possibly be damaging my precious firstborn, I'm a bit of a fan. I like it best for its narcotic effects on said child, obviously. But also for its soothingly upbeat representations of family life.

Mummy Pig is one of those apocryphal wonder-mothers who is warm and firm, but never loses her cool. There is no piece of mischief that Peppa and her brother George can conceive of that will rattle her. And her marriage to Daddy Pig sets a new high watermark of #relationshipgoals.

They have a very equitable marriage, by the looks of things, and have surprising shared hobbies, such as ballet. Alright, yes, Daddy Pig can, at times, be a bit of an ass. A blustery, self-congratulating oaf, even. Boris Johnson in porcine form. But after god knows how many years of married life together (at least a decade of which has been spent with two children trapped in unending toddler-hood, if you can imagine) he still fancies the pants off his missus and is touchingly devoted to her.

He doesn't hold back from showering her with compliments, and telling her she's the most beautiful woman in the world. And his performance on Mummy Pig's birthday was so exemplary (presents, pampering, whisked her out for dinner and a show) that I forced my own other half to watch that episode from start to finish, so that he could learn from Daddy Pig how things should be done.

It would be a stretch too far to suggest that watching Peppa Pig can be educational for children. But there's a thing or two to be learned from it, I think, by the adults.

Sunday Independent

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