‘Easily distracted, poor concentration and short attention spans’, is how a 4 year-old child has described his parents, regarding the provision of bedtime reading at their Surrey home. Pre-school nipper Jack Poulter has requested an OFSTED inspection to assess the quality of service and to determine if nanny and grandad should be appointed. Key targets had been set at the start of the year with reference to animal sound identification, parental voice lucidity and syllable recognition, but none of the underlying objectives had been fulfilled – a state of affairs he described as ‘eroding the bedrock of literacy’.
“The threat to storytelling is very real,” said Jack, after throwing a colossal temper tantrum over some pureed veggies. “I’ve told mummy and daddy to keep smartphones OUT of my bedroom, but they disobey me and then get upset when I force them to handover SIM cards. How can I possibly enjoy ‘The First Hippo on the Moon’ if daddy’s phone is beeping away every time he’s doing the hippo voice? And why does mummy constantly yawn whilst narrating ‘The Mouse who Reached the Sky?’ She seems to get the most sleep out of all of us, especially now that I have a 3 month-old sister, who is ALWAYS waking me up.”
Jack is not alone in voicing his displeasure at the gross negligence on display during night-time storytelling. In addition to OFSTED monitoring, other children are recommending mindfulness mediation to their parents, so that they can impersonate frogs ‘in the present moment’, and so that their attention is more focussed when depicting a very hungry caterpillar. This ‘enlightened state of consciousness’ is exemplified by toddlers who decide to bawl and wail relentlessly because the universe is not acceding to their demands.
"The final straw was when daddy started snoring after really butchering a lion voice," moaned Jack. "I was so upset and wanted to scream 'this is not a bloody dress rehearsal. This is the real thing!'. The only future I can see is that my Captain America themed bedroom will be going into special measures."
Jack then went to inform his mummy that he wanted ice-cream right now, otherwise he'd go batshit crazy.