But here's the thing: I never set out for Flea not to watch television. I'm not one of those parents who will only feed their child organic Quinoa and ethically-sourced dried fruits. Honestly, I've nothing against the odd packet of chocolate buttons. I'm normal (relatively speaking).
It just happened.
When Flea was born, I had to go back to work very quickly, because me and The Father were both self-employed. Rather than put a 9-week-old baby into childcare, we hired a part-time nanny who looked after Flea for three days a week.
Of course, the nanny NEVER watched television because she was being paid to entertain my child and divert her with enriching activities and educational trips out. On my two days off with Flea, we tended to be out and about, too. On Thursdays we went to Little Dippers and on a Friday we tended to meet up with NCT friends for lunch and playdates. Weekends we spent exploring the many pubs with lovely beer gardens across Sussex, as I recall (recommendations available on request).
So it was that we got to Flea's first birthday and she'd never watched television. And it didn't seem like it was particularly worth my while introducing it at that point. But it's interesting how often I'm asked to justify or explain my choice – it wouldn't occur to me to say to someone, "So, Harry watches In the Night Garden every day. Do you think that's wise?"
For me, the fact that Flea doesn't watch TV has nothing but upsides. She doesn't nag for branded clothes/food/comics in the supermarket. She's developed the ability to make a game out of almost anything, and entertain herself for hours at a time, without me needing to be involved. She's much more likely to chatter to me while she's playing – she doesn't slip into the 'telly trance' that so many kids seem to when they're at home. I don't have to drag her away from things to have dinner or tidy something away.
But most importantly of all – our policy means I don't have to watch kids TV. I really, really hate kids TV. Not proper kids telly like Stig of the Dump and Press Gang, of course. But that sort of TV that someone somewhere once thought was a good idea to invent for under 5s. You know, things like Teletubbies and Tweenies and Waybuloo, which Papa et Piaf brilliantly described as "computer-generated cuddly toys doing yoga (I shit you not) and speaking
about feelings in what some coke-addled media graduate imagines to be baby talk".
Watching that stuff is like Chinese water torture for me. If we visit friends, and the TV is on, I have to stop myself from gnawing the sofa in frustration. Let me tell you: Justin from Mister Tumble is NOT "weirdly attractive". He just looks attractive in comparison to those two monkeys from Big Cook, Little Cook. And the day you find yourself eyeing up Mister Maker is when you, too, should turn off the television. For your own good.