Wednesday, 20 June 2007

In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden is my latest fascination. Igglepiggle? Ninky Nonk? Makka Pakka? It’s disturbingly close to madness. But as soon as the music starts I am entranced. I think I like it even more than my daughter does and glance anxiously at my watch when it gets to six o’clock. That recurring, hypnotic tune. The haunting counterpoint of musical boxes, lullabies and nursery rhymes. The other-worldliness. I have absolutely no idea what is going on and I do drift away in the middle, but I fear missing the magical end-titles. I want to go to bed then myself and fly away into a childhood dreamland. Its makers say it is a "magical picture book place that exists between waking and sleeping". It’s that alright. I don’t think there’s anything that more successfully conveys what it is to be a child.

My daughter waves her hands, conducting the opening theme and we have conversations like:

“Look, Makka Pakka!”

“No, it’s Igglepiggle!”

“That’s the Pinky Ponk!”

“It’s the Ninky Nonk!”

“No it’s the Pinky Ponk.!”

“Shhhhhhh!”

“I like this bit.”

“No, daddy, this is my favourite programme. If you want to watch something, you have to watch a grown up programme.”

“Can’t it can be both our favourites?”

“No daddy. Oh! It’s finishing already. It’s so short!”

My daughter is slap-bang in the middle pages of the magical picture book. She is still open and trusting and lacking in artifice. She assumes everyone’s motivation is pure. I was telling her about how they put the road back after roadworks. “You mean so everyone can go on the pavement again and have a nice walk?” she replied. Everything works out for the best in her world.

She whispers confidentially to me about absolutely nothing. “Daddy I love Coco Pops Mega Munchers”. Other times she tickles my ear with an indecipherable “Whissoowissoowiss….”

She says “Oh God!” and then puts her hand to her mouth in shocked yet smiling embarrassment.

She breaks her food in half unasked and gives me a piece for myself.

It’s a lovely world and if alarming strangeness like In the Night Garden can help me enter it for a few minutes, then I am grateful.

39 comments:

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It's strange how kids bring out the child in us. I'm addicted to Sponge Bob.

Stay at home dad said...

I haven't seen much of Sponge Bob, but gather he lives in Bikini Bottom!

The Good Woman said...

YES! Someone else who watches In the Night Garden. Vaguely hallucinogenic, don't you think?

Elsie Button said...

Ninky who? I have no idea, but i can't wait to enter this whole new world - if Betty will let me!

Omega Mum said...

It sounds lovely and addictive. Can't afford to get too lost in attractive parallel worlds at the moment - might not be able to leave.

Stay at home dad said...

Vaguely? TGW. Vaguely?!

Elsie you have a fine time ahead of you. It's for 1-4 year olds so I'm sure she'll be ready soon...

No, OM. I know what you mean. Mind you, being trapped in the Night Garden would be extremely disturbing.

alice c said...

Just be grateful that she is growing up in the era of ITNG and not...shudder...The Teletubbies. I think that I am scarred for life by over-exposure to La-La. It was the stuff of nightmares not sweet dreams.

Lucy Diamond said...

God, I love the Night Garden music too - so soothing, even though I haven't got a clue what's going on in the programme. I like the Pontypines best, I think...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

It's lovely that you sit down and watch telly with her, mine are always asking me to watch with them. Is in the Night Garden the one with weird wooden spoons with faces, that sing? I glimpsed one of mine playing that on the website the other day. In fact, perhaps all the cbeebies producers have taken one tab too many? Or are we all a bit behind with the latest educational theories? (My word verification thingy is 'dwekar', maybe it has been for a walk in the night garden?)

Stay at home dad said...

Yes Alice, the teletubbies were a bit of an effort I agree. Same team behind ITNG of course but very different result.

Glad I'm not the only one Lucy. The pontypines are my daughter's personal favourites...

Pig, I don't think the spoons are ITNG. There are a few odd ones around. Number Jacks is another one... With one child it's easy to sit down with them.

Drunk Mummy said...

Dear SAHD - children's TV (like children's books) only start to make sense with the addition of a little alcohol. In fact, I was totally engrossed by the dramatic pull of the opening lines of your post.
Your description of toddler whispers really made me laugh!

lady macleod said...

lovely, lovely, lovely. I love how you love your child.

I remember when Q was wee, my best friend Carol and I thought the PBS television program "Mr. Rodgers" was so horrid. Six months later it was our favourite. Nine a.m. every week day, never missed it. the puppets were different proportions, the train ran on wishes, and the humans talked to the puppets...it was brilliant. Ten milligrams of valium without the danger to your liver.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you DM. On the book front the best example of that must be Maisy's Rainbow Dream, which you can't help but read in a stoned hippy (Dylan from Magic Roundabout) voice!

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you your ladyship. Yes, obviously times haven't changed much: if a TV show can calm a child then an adult must be easy...

DJ Kirkby said...

I was just getting to like Night Garden when number 1 and 2 sons introduced number 3 son to the cartoon netwook! Grrrr! He is only 4 1/2!

Stay at home dad said...

My finger glides easily over the Cartoon Network button, DJK...

DevonLife said...

OK, you got me interested. I'll let the children have a late bath and we'll watch this first. LSD via TV. Leary would be proud of this generation.

Stay at home dad said...

That's a late bath?! My you're organized.

Yes, turn on and tune in!

Elsie Button said...

i just followed your link, and tried to play the 'in the night garden' game. totally beyond me. i might get p**sed and try again later.

Stay at home dad said...

Never tried the game, but if it's anything like the show... I think Devonlife must have overdosed.

merry weather said...

Yes, we are all entranced by it - I think, strangely, it's as if it is part of my childhood too - er, ahem :)

But do you ever wonder about the Wottingers? They only show up for the dance....

Scruffy Mummy said...

Lady MacLeod - I was a child of the 70's and I loved Mr. Rogers 'It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood (doo, dah, doo, dah), beautiful day in the neighbourhood! My mother reported that one of my first words was Roger!

I love watched kids tv with my sprog - him snuggled or flopped on me. It's the best!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Goodness me, this is a foreign language to we who are childfree!

Though I used to like the teletubbies, and Tinky Winky in particular...

Stay at home dad said...

You know I do wonder about the Wottingers, Merry Weather. But not as much as I wonder about the Haahoos.

Stay at home dad said...

No knowledge of Mr Rodgers, Scruffy Mummy, but yes, it's almost as good as reading stories together isn't it. Certainly less effort.

M&M, apologies. I used to hate it when people did that. However, if you liked the tubbies then you will love ITNG.

Livvy U. said...

Of course, as usual, I am late to join the conversation - but oh, yes, yes, In The Night Garden has worked a great magic upon me, too. That wonderful, beautiful music - echoes of baby mobiles, fairgrounds and half-tuned pianos. The birds who dip their beaks to sing! The ever-optimistic, oh-so-good world of IgglePiggle and Upsy Daisy. I often find myself near tears. It's like being given a path back to a child's way of thinking.

And, being of that world once upon a time, I can't help but admire the artistry that has gone into the making of the thing.

I think it is a cut above Teletubbies. It inspires a state of wistfulness - something very difficult to do. Anyone who hasn't watched - give it time to work its magic. It works in toddler, not adult, time.

Now, I'm off to catch the Ninky-Nonk.

Stay at home dad said...

Livvy, perfectly put... And I thought people would wonder what I was talking about.

Livvy U. said...

And can I just add - having watched again tonight, have you ever noticed how we never get to see the Wottingers all tucked up and ready for bed? We never hear 'Go to sleep, Wottingers!' do we? A definite bias towards the Pontypines, methinks - Or perhaps I'm really getting a bit sad.

And, thank you for the link on your front page so to speak. Honoured.
Livvy

Stay at home dad said...

I think you might have something there Livvy. I'll have to watch more closely!

Stay at home dad said...

I think you might have something there Livvy. I'll have to watch more closely!

Katy said...

What a lovely, well written post...thank you for that. i watch Night Garden with my two sons, the eldest is two and a half, the youngest 10 months. They both love it! Ben, my youngest, gets into fits of giggles over Macca Pacca's trumpet and Tom, my eldest is just totally absorbed from start to finish. I must admit that when it first started i wasn't keen but I have since been drawn in and have now been overtaken by the pure innocence of it all. How lovely.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Katy. It's definitely a grower. It's the only children's programme I miss seeing if we're out.

Working Mum said...

My husband (another stay-at-home-Dad) and son are also addicted to In the Night Garden, and whisper conspiratorially to one another about it. It is indubitably brilliant, even though I have absolutely no idea what is going on when I manage to catch it. When the last series ended we had just one episode recorded and had to play it over and over again until the new series started.

Stay at home dad said...

Good to hear about a fellow sahd... one episode on loop - that must have been testing!

Sparx said...

Oooh, we love the Night Garden too!!! I think I may like it slightly more than the spud however as he really only likes the Pontypines and Upsy Daisy, which make him giggle a lot, which is ultimately worth watching for every time....

Stay at home dad said...

It's a very giggly show isn't it. Whoever said TV isn't interactive.

Suki said...

This post seriously made me feel weird. At 18, you never really know whether you're child or adult and you really, really want to stay the innocent baby a part of you still is... but as a lit student, Spongebob, Babe, or Roald Dahl don't really make you smile because they mean so damn much.

Heck, I want to be that trusting, loving, innocent and protected kid again!

Sarah said...

I love the night garden and want to share my theory that Igglepiggle is dreaming the whole thing and in real life actually has no friends just bobs around in his boat on the sea so he goes there in his dreams so when he sails away in the closing sequence I always feel like crying because he has no one any one feel like psychoanalysing that!?

Glowmay said...

The proportions really drive me mad.