Amok Mama: The Irish flute

What do parents in Germany get if they let their kids watch too much television? A guilty conscience mixed with an inferiority complex. But a holiday in Britain showed Jacinta Nandi just how educational TV for children can be.

We just got back from England, where Rico watched a lot of television. And when I say a lot of television, what I actually mean is a “LO-OH-HORT “of television, and you should try to say “LO-OH-HORT,” if you can, in an American accent whilst bulging your eyes manically.

It’s no fun letting your kid watch too much telly here in Krautland. You get a guilty conscience, coz nobody else does it, apart from you and people who have feral kids called Kevin with translucent skin and little black stumps of rotten mash where their teeth are meant to go. Everybody else sniffs disapprovingly while telling you about their old friend slash neighbour slash ex-wife who, when the kid wakes up, puts Kika on and then slopes back into bed for another couple of hours’ shut-eye.

“I mean, Jacinta, can you believe a human being would be physically capable of such sluttish behaviour?” This is a direct quote, by the way. “I mean, you know, they are basically using the television as a substitute babysitter.” Noooooooooooo… not when Mongolian aupairs are going so cheap! “Have you ever heard of anything more horrific, hideous and/or heinous in your entire life?” Well, I might’ve done, but it did involve two girls and a cup.

Actually, I must admit I’ve been a bit unfair on the old Germans, the past five years of my life. What I noticed was that as soon as Sandman was over, Punkt Sieben, they’d be whacking on the gritty social realism and the murder mysteries aimed at tweens and teens like there was no tomorrow. Those bloody German TV execs, I always said to myself, as I switched off the TV, they’re just trying to punish all the Rabenmüttis in a most subtle and yet surprisingly effective manner. But you know me. When I’m wrong I’ll say I’m wrong. I’m like the dad in Dirty Dancing. And over on the monkey-island, well, it may be another country, but they don’t do everything differently over there. Punkt Sieben, and CBeebies and CBBC are all over, Red Rover. That’s your lot, I’m afraid, mate. Ciao ciao, for now. They don’t even whack on any gritty social realism or murder mysteries aimed at tweens and teens. Nope. There’s just a sign up saying: “CBeebies will be back tomorrow at six, and, by the way, if you’re watching this, your mother is a slut.”

Still, British kids’ TV is amazing. It’s fantastic. It’s so educational. They teach them how to draw, how to do sign language, how to make nice picture frames for their friends as a birthday pressie. At one point, Rico was watching a show which I took to be a really boring nature programme.

“Isn’t this too boring for you?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, his eyes not even flickering from the screen for a millionth of a second. “It’s Forschung, actually.”

Afterwards he came up to me:

“So, I watched that show about the Irish flute.”

“The Irish flute.”


“Oh right.”

“Yeah, there’s a flute in Ireland. You know?”

“No, I don’t know.”

“Actually, not Ireland. That other land.”


“Not that land. Do you know any lands where they got flutes?”

“Erm. Wales?”

“Not Wales!”

“I don’t know so much about flute music, Rico.”

“Not music! Where the water came.”

“Where the water came?”

“It’s the land where yesterday Ben gaved them the money in a bucket, he gaved them all the big money he had.”

The day before my boyfriend had accidentally given his last tenner to some kids collecting money for Pakistani flood victims. I mean, not totally accidentally, but a little bit, you know. He meant to give a fiver. And a tenner came out. Doh!

“Oh, you mean Pakistan.”

“Yeah, the flute in Pakistan.”

“Oh, you mean the flood in Pakistan.”

Rico nodded gravely. “I found out all about the flute in Pakistan, Mum. And you know what I noticed? I noticed that it is really good that Ben gaved them all that big money because these poor people need that money more than we need it because they need to help their selves, Mum. That is what I noticed.”

AND he learnt how to say ‘sitting-room’ and ‘kitchen’ in sign language. All in all, we had a hugely successful holiday, I’m sure you’ll agree.