Wednesday 17 January 2018

Parting with Peppa: Why saying goodbye to the pig is harder than you think

A porcine upstart took over her life five years ago, but now, to her surprise, Sarah Caden is sad to see her go

Peppa pig and her little brother George
Peppa pig and her little brother George
Family fun: Peppa pig (centre) with Daddy Pig and little brother George
Sarah Caden

Sarah Caden

I have an older daughter, so I knew, deep down, that this day would come. I knew that time passes, things change, everything's a phase and everything moves on. Still, though, it came as a shock to discover that it's already time to say goodbye.

The other week, I asked the younger daughter if she wanted to watch Peppa Pig. "No," she replied, "Hod Henry." Horrid Henry? Really? Oh. When did that happen?

Family fun: Peppa pig (centre) with Daddy Pig and little brother George
Family fun: Peppa pig (centre) with Daddy Pig and little brother George

I flicked around the channels to find some Peppa - because there's almost always some Peppa, somewhere. I found it, and she sat down silently to watch. I breathed a sigh of relief, and watched with her. "Now," she turned to me and announced as the theme tune rose at the end, "Hod Henry."

Oh god, the time had come, and now, she was humouring me and my penchant for Peppa.

The bossy little pig, who has made millions for her creators and brought English inflections into the accents of both my children, is about to leave my life, and I'm not sure I like it. For five years, she has been a near-constant presence, with her oinking theme tune running in a loop in my head, and her adventures playing over and over, through both my daughters' early years.

We have the stuffed toys, god knows the DVDs have saved many plane journeys and, with the older daughter, we even visited Peppa Pig World.

We have been immersed in the porcine upstart, the way you get immersed in things with your kids when they're very small, unaware until it's over that this level of close contact with what's going on in their heads, passes and, really, never happens again.

The older daughter cannot believe or remember that she was ever obsessed with Peppa, but, because of the second daughter, I have remained immersed. And, when the younger one also forgets that she ever held Peppa so dear, I will still remember, as their younger years and younger obsessions will come to mean more to me than to them.

There are times, during the immersion years, where you wish for them to be over; because you're so sleep deprived and because the children are so utterly, parasitically dependent. You tell yourself that, "It'll be easier when they're eating solids/sleeping better/walking/out of nappies"; but it's not necessarily easier, you come to realise, just different. And, increasingly as the years go by, it's less about being welded to you.

I could take Peppa Pig as my specialist subject on Mastermind. I have opinions on whether Daddy Pig is bullied by the pig womenfolk, and even have favourite episodes - 'Ice Skating' and 'Whistling', since you ask - but about Horrid Henry I know and care that bit less. Because I know he's only going to be around for a while, and that he'll be replaced by something else, even less childish and less cute.

Peppa pig and her little brother George
Peppa pig and her little brother George

The farewell to Peppa is only an aspect of the particular point we're at, but, somehow it's the most painful bit so far.

The younger child is past the baby phase and, for several months, I've been getting rid of the baby bits and moving on, like a snake shedding its skin. Stuff that's been around for six years, passing seamlessly from the older one to the younger, has left the building without so much as a pang on my part.

I've passed on the cot in which they both slept. I've sold the buggy and thrown out well-used sippy cups and plastic cutlery and plates. A broody friend wondered at my coolness, as I seemed to shut the door on ever having a baby in the house again, but I wasn't sad to see any of it go. I liked my babies, but I like my little girls now, and get lost in huge emotion when I tiptoe in to pull the blankets over them in their big beds, in their shared room, where they whisper and make each other laugh before settling to sleep. A bit like Peppa and George in their bunks, you might say, if you were in the Peppa zone.

And, perhaps, there's a little life left in my Peppa zone yet. Enough time for a little visit to Peppa Pig World, maybe. For my sake, if not theirs.

Sunday Independent

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