Fluffy Gardens – what should we be telling children?
When I first created Fluffy Gardens, I’ve got to admit, this question is something I didn’t fully consider. Hey, I was too busy stumbling around blindly at the time, desperately trying to make it look like I knew what I was doing.
What I knew straight off, however, was that I wanted Fluffy Gardens to be safe, and positive.
Specific messages came later and often just evolved naturally from the characters. Paolo the Cat, for example ‘ it’s okay to be who you are. Acceptance of self and others became a common theme.
Friendship, helping and being helped became familiar elements in the show. A sense of community (friendly neighbourhood type of community, not ‘scary cult gathering guns’ community – that would have been wrong for the show, though if anyone is looking for show ideas, by all means feel free to go with it).
But once the blind stumbling around was out of the way and I had a grip on things, the question consumed me ‘ what should we be telling children?
That everything is wonderful? Everyone can be great to each other? As a father, the question becomes even more personal. There is more at stake in my own life, as there is with yours if you have children.
One of the messages I didn’t tell children is this: life can be tough.
Really tough sometimes.
I dread teaching my girls that one. Or them finding out for themselves.
But, as it happens, knowing that big life lesson and being aware of it actually guided some of the messages that I chose to tell children with Fluffy Gardens. I hope when my own girls come to learn that one big lesson I never touched on that, on some level, they remember the good things. That they’re okay, they can still grow and they can help and be helped. That they aren’t alone.
Some messages shouldn’t be learned from television. But the good stuff? We can reinforce that, build on it and help parents where we can. Television is much more than entertainment.
It’s important for parents to remember that. And even more important that programme-makers remember it.