After one Christmas which he spent entirely asleep or feeding (2012), a Christmas of climbing into cardboard boxes and flinging paper everywhere (2013) and a Christmas of wheedling as much chocolate as he possibly could out of overly-generous grandparents (2014), my son has finally figured out that Christmas has something to do with presents.
I blame Tiny Pop. A far cry from the safe and friendly CBeebies world, the Tiny Pop channel is all lurid cartoons, loud noises and relentless ad breaks. Which of course, to a three-year-old, is wildly exciting.
For those of you who don’t have a toddler, you may think Christmas advertising is all about Iceland’s cut-price desserts, Boots’ flogging of perfume via a raft of attractive women in red dresses, or John Lewis’ annual tear-jerker.
But how wrong you would be. In my Tiny Pop-dominated world, Christmas is about Hungry Hippos (which hasn’t changed much since the ’80s); a frankly-sexist game called Don’t Wake Dad, which involves trying to tiptoe over a sleeping plastic bloke without causing him to jolt upwards, and a bizarre bubble maker which attaches to the side of the bath to create shampoo-tasting “ice cream.”
My toddler is frighteningly indiscriminate. It doesn’t matter what the advert is for, it will be met with an “I want that, Mummy.” To try to prevent the broken record, I attempt to switch the channel, but naturally this is easier said than done, given his tendency to hide the remote.
What is for sure, though, is that his demands fall on entirely deaf ears. Not just because, as a parent, it’s my job to teach him that he can’t have everything he wants, but because I’m acutely aware that his Christmas list is going to get more and more outrageous as the years go on. If I cave in to demands now, what will I be caving in to in a decade? A computer console that doesn’t even exist yet, and Marty McFly-esque self-fastening trainers? Then what? A car?
I can see a dystopian future in which a fatter and greyer me is standing in Meadowhall, a teenage boy towering over me, insisting that he “needs” some thousand-pound device from the Apple shop.
No chance. For as long as I can possibly get away with it, this Scrooge of a mother is saying no, keeping firm and staying resolute.
So all I need to do now is find the remote and make sure I can get Tiny Pop switched off – before I’m worn down in this war of attrition, and find myself handing over a credit card in return for Hungry Hippos.