I have a nemesis. Every time I see her I know she will do everything in her power to make my life painful. When you think of a nemesis certain images come to mind. You think of Professor Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes, Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker, or a Krispy Kreme donut shop next to a Weight Watchers. You don’t tend to think of suburban mothers going about their business. Enemies yes. Enemies in mummy circles are far more common. You know the types, well to do mothers who somehow manage to roll out of bed already looking refreshed and perfect. Their children never have a piece of clothing out of place. They breastfeed proudly, use cloth nappies, and make all of their children’s food from scratch. These things in themselves are not bad. Hey, it’s fantastic if you manage to do any of these things. But it’s the way that some of these mothers will look down their noses at us other less than worthy creatures. The ones who haven’t been bothered to do the dishes, or pack the laundry away in a week, or think it’s perfectly acceptable to put a jacket over their pyjamas when heading out to the shops.
No, what I’m talking about here is much greater than that. I see her once a week, at the local library’s toddler time where we sing songs and nursery rhymes. Every week it is the same. I see her and she sees me. We sit at opposite ends of the room from each other. Most of the time spent there is pleasant. Everyone is happy, cooing along to the music and revelling in the sound of their baby’s excited burbling. At first I loved coming. But recently it’s been more than a little trying, now that Stormaggedon wants to explore the bags and belongings of all the other people there. While everyone else is happily sitting with their children in their laps clapping along to the music, I am instead playing a wrestling game with my son exasperatingly explaining to him “No darling, that’s not your water bottle!” for the fiftieth time. The wrestling isn’t so much the problem, as the constant screaming after the fact. So by the end I’m exhausted. And then it happens. The lovely volunteer library worker says it, “Have we forgotten to sing anything today, or does someone have a favourite song that we’ve missed?” My nemesis and I lock eyes. I can see the evil snake like smile slowly spread across her face. She quickly drops the mask of evil, and turns innocently to the library worker, who she’s conveniently sat herself next to and sweetly chirps, “We haven’t sung Doctor Knickerbocker yet”.
If my eyes could throw daggers this lady would be pinned to the back wall. It all started off innocently enough. The first week we were there together, the question was asked, she responded and I rolled my eyes and declared very loudly indeed how Doctor Knickerbocker was an awful song and we should definitely not sing it. I may have then shouted “Death to the Wiggles” and threw a smoke bomb as I leapt from an open window, but that’s beside the point. From then on this woman took offence to my over the top dislike to the song, and clearly decided to make my life a living hell from then on.
Seriously, who in their right mind likes Doctor Knickerbocker?! It’s a terrible, repetitive, ear worm of a song. I bet you all hate me now for the number of times I’ve said it already. You’re probably singing it in your heads right now. Want to bash your head up against a brick wall don’t you? Think how I feel, I’m the one writing the article!!!
I can very clearly remember hating this song when I was in kindergarten. Obviously I was a smart kid, with excellent tastes. But then again, I was quite spoilt. My father used to put me to sleep by blaring a decent amount of Pink Floyd. Give me the Division Bell any day.
Though frankly I have always wondered why children don’t get upset at these clearly annoying and repetitive songs. Is it to do with the structure? Or because it’s dependable and reliable, that they know how it goes and it won’t ever change? That it’s easy perhaps? Whatever the reason, it shouldn’t necessarily mean that all children are going to like these kinds of songs. Nor should they be forced to because other parents think that these are just the norm for a certain age bracket. Because you know what I discovered? Until your child is old enough to tell you what their tastes and desires are, YOU have all the power to control what they listen to and play with. When they’re a baby, you’re the one going out buying the toys, and the clothes, and if you so choose, what TV they watch. I’ll never understand when I hear a parent of a 6 month old complain how their child is obsessed with Peppa Pig, or Dora the Explorer or Bananas in Pyjamas. How exactly did they become obsessed exactly, except through adult influence? And that’s where we need to remember the great responsibility we have when introducing television and music and toys and clothes to our children for the first time. This also includes opinions, beliefs, attitudes, manners, integrity and etiquette. What we believe in, what we like and what we hate is genially what our children will believe, like and hate as well until they’re old enough to develop their own opinions. I know I’m currently guilty of my son’s current obsession with Doctor Who. Today I caught him on video actually saying “Doctor” over and over again, whilst pointing to his Dalek doll, his Matt Smith Doctor doll, his squeeze toy TARDIS, and my giant cookie jar TARDIS that makes the whoop whoop noise when the lid is opened and closed. He’s obsessed because I’m obsessed. And it’s frankly hilarious. And I will always admit that his obesession is completely and utterly my doing.
Back at the library I just resorted to leaving early rather than having to sit there and listen to yet another rendition of Doctor Knickerbocker. Stormy is at least still young enough that I can choose when we leave rather than having to contend with a “No, no, not yet!” Tantrum. Though not for much longer, because he’s already started doing this in other circumstances. At this stage I don’t know of any other way to deal with my nemesis. Then again, I could always fight fire with fire. I hear Peter Combe’s back catalogue is quite the favourite amoungst children….