This. Is. An. Actual. Thing.
Several people at work told me about their kids getting hooked on this and, I have to admit, at first I just thought it was maybe an odd thing that certain kids did.
When I was younger I used to spend hours lining cars up along the wall in colour order and then moving them slowly on a marathon journey across the hallway and up the stairs. Why? I have no idea. But I figured that this was one of those things for kids of the media generation. Heck, if I had had a tablet or a smartphone at two-years old, I would probably find plenty more interesting things to do than to be OCD about cars, too. Although it was very soothing, and immensely satisfying when we made it to the top of the stairs. Anyway. I figured this was what the slightly more eccentric kids were doing nowadays.
It is not.
Or if it is, we have a nation of slightly weird children. I just looked at one video that my daughter is obsessed with and it has had over seven million views. In two months. Probably all my daughter.
It’s very mesmerising – almost hypnotic. I found myself caught up in one video where this grown adult (I can only assume she’s a grown up as how else would she be able to afford all these toys? Oh wait – she probably gets sent them by toy companies so that they can carry on feeding this bizarre fetish in small toy junkies instead of sending toys to kids who would actually appreciate them). Anyway. She opened packet after packet of these things called Tsum Tsum – no, me neither.
They are small soft toys that come in all different versions of Disney characters, in three different sizes – small, medium and large. And you stack them.
On the TV advert, it makes it look like every now and then they explode, like Buckaroo, and they all go everywhere. Which would be way more fun than what they actually do. Which is just sit there. Stacked on top of each other. In a little pyramid. My OCD 10-year old self would literally have wet myself over the thought of these – you can even get display shelves to put them on, you see. My cynical slightly *ahem* older self is sitting here thinking…. WTF?
Anyway, on this recent video that I sat and watched for 12 MINUTES before I realised what I was doing, she had apparently got enough packets that she had one of every single Tsum Tsum. And this video went like this:
Oooooo who have I got heeeeerrrrreeee? (I’m trying to demonstrate where the emphasis on the words is so that you can truly get a feel for what I was watching)
*Puts on macho voice*
Oh, hi there. I’m little Buzz Lightyear (clearly the ‘small’ version of the set). Watch me fly to stand over here.
*Flies him to stand – gets next one, puts on squeaky voice*
It’s me, Nemo. I’m medium-sized Nemo and I’m going to swim right on to my new home
And so it goes on.
BC will watch this for hours. This makes me sound like a terrible mum, and this only happened once, but when we first moved in I really needed to have some space to get things unpacked/built/tidied. I didn’t know anyone who could take BC for a couple of hours, and the TV hadn’t arrived at that point, so I let her watch Minnie Mouse cartoons on You Tube on my phone. Quite literally – for hours. And this is how she discovered this.
I thought she was just watching a particularly annoying cartoon as the presenter of these vids (can I call her that?) has a very whimsical, princess-like voice.
It was only when I took BC her lunch over and saw her gazing adoringly at Disney pez dispensers that I realised things had taken a very sinister turn – my daughter was being fed the child equivalent of crack.
Her favourite seems to be a video where there is a pot of goo, and when you open said goo, there is some sort of character or figurine in there. And there seems to be thousands of these pots of goo. I’m sure I’ve never seen the same one twice.
Where the problem lies is that I now have to ration her and we get insane tantrums when she’s told to step away from the phone. This may simply be because she’s a monster. But she displays the same signs of addictivness that people who get hooked on Netflix series do. Just. One. More. Episode. Cant. Keep. Eyes. Open. *thud* Zzzzzzzzz
And at first it made me a little sad. But it’s the world we raise our children in, it’s their natural surroundings. We still play outside. We still play inside for that matter. We have tea parties. We play catch – well, if you can call it catch when BC runs off with the ball and won’t let go. We do all of the play things of my childhood. Except now there is a technological veneer to everything.
However, I can’t really lament and say kids don’t play like they used to. True. Some kids don’t. But in my day there were kids who didn’t play like the rest. They sat in their room on Sony Megadrives, Ataris, and Nintendos.
Our kids have adapted to the world that they live in – and they are scarily good at it. My two-year old can unlock my phone, get onto You Tube or Google Films (depending on what she wants to watch) and she’s away. This is a different type of intelligence to the the type I had at that age.
This is why we have 12-year old You Tube stars. 16-year old multi-million web developers. This is why Game Camp is an actual thing – in the hotel we stayed in when we first arrived there was a Game Camp in the hotel. I figured it was just kids playing games all day, but one day I saw a schedule and kids as young as eight were learning about game programming and development.
All parents are the best, and however much engagement with technology that we allow our kids to have is fine. No one can be judgy about that.
But, now that my daughter is two, being able to see the world through two-year old eyes has really helped me to 180 on many of my pre-birth statements. BC sees me and my husband on our phones all the time. And so I have to kind of embrace her being involved as this, for her, is her social norm. It’s just my responsibility to make sure that her social norm also includes colouring in, singing nursery rhymes and playing on the swings.
I tell you one thing – one of my pre-birth statements was that I would never allow my child to watch videos on my phone when we were out to dinner. At the end of the day, she’s two and hardly the light and soul of the party. If a tantrum threatens and I can forestall her boredom and actually enjoy half an hour, maybe even a whole hour *shock* of my husband’s company, she can watch bloody Peppa Pig the whole time we’re there if she likes!