“ABC,” the Popple says.
“You want ‘ABC’?” I ask.
“Yeah!” she says.
I put on a video of The Jackson 5 performing on American Bandstand. The Popple sits on my lap, spellbound by a very young and not yet creepy Michael Jackson.
“Nice Hat,” I say, even though Michael Jackson doesn’t wear a hat in this video. However, he does wear a purple hat in the video for “I Want You Back”, which she’s seen loads of times, so we’ve taken to referring to him as ‘Nice Hat’.
“Hat,” she says.
She never said the word ‘hat’ before she watched that video. She was aware of hats, obviously – she’s worn them herself and loudly objected to me wearing them – but she never named them out loud until she saw Michael Jackson’s purple fedora.
The Popple doesn’t watch much children’s TV. She has no interest in Peppa Pig, In The Night Garden or whatever crap toddlers are watching these days. She only wants to watch a very specific selection music videos, including:
- I’ve Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison
- We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
- I Get Around – The Beach Boys
- ABC – The Jackson 5
- Easy Love – Sigala
- You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
- Here We Go Again – OK Go
- I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
- Cups – Anna Kendrik
These are videos that she has carefully selected out of the many that we have exposed her to, a finely-tuned playlist that speaks to her love of classic rock, electronic dance music, throwaway pop and celebrity cameos.
I’ve questioned this aspect of her routine a lot. Not only does it involve the much-maligned screen time, but it’s age-inappropriate screen time to boot. What exactly can an 18-month-old get out of watching a bunch of millenials in animal onesies sing about Taylor Swift’s boyfriend problems, or seeing Chevy Chase faux-trumpet with a grumpy Paul Simon?
Well. More that you’d think, actually.
She learned the word ‘clock’ from “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You.” If you haven’t seen it, the video basically consists of George Harrison sitting in a chair while everything in the room moves around him – the bookshelf, the desk, the paintings, etc. She’s obsessed with the swaying grandfather clock.
“Cock!” she yells when she sees it, because she hasn’t mastered the ‘L’ sound yet. “Cock cock cock!”
It’s especially fun when she busts out this new skill in public.
She likes to name things that she recognises in these videos – a car that drives by Tom Hanks in “I Really Like You,” a fake bird that sits outside Taylor Swift’s fake window in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, the cup Anna Kendrink uses for percussion in “Cups”. She claps along with The Beach Boys and drums along with Paul Simon. Watching music videos is hardly a passive activity for her. She is, in her own weird way, learning.
It’s not exactly sensory play, organic baking or Pinterest-worthly crafts, and I’m never going to win mum of the year for encouraging my daughter to watch Carly Rae Jepsen. But she likes it. It gives us an excuse to sit down together and have a bit of a break. And it’s far less annoying than Peppa Pig and whiny, projectile-crying brother.
On a related note, someone compiled a video of all the instances of George Pig crying. No one asked them to and it’s the absolute worst, but it exists because the internet is terrible.