Thursday, 26 August 2010

On repeat

Kids love repetition. They really, really, do. It's most obvious in the books for little'uns like That's not my kitten/ dragon/ princess but older children respond well to series like Malory Towers, where a lot of satisfaction is derived from the repetitive set pieces like New Girls Visit The Head; Midnight Feast; and Lacrosse Match.

So I should have realised when HackneyChild demanded a "story about shapes" (?) that this would not be a one-off. Au contraire, we have stumbled across a winning and not-to-be-deviated-from formula, which I shall now provide for you in the hopes that I can spread the pain. We have had this "story" ten times today alone.

Once upon a time there was a little XY (where X is colour, and Y is shape - eg blue rectangle). The little XY lived in the land of X2Y2 (another colour, another shape). He was quite happy but one day he started to feel a little lonely, and began to wish he had someone to talk to about Xness and Yness, instead of having to go on about X2ness and Y2ness all the time. So he decided to try to find the land of XYs.

At this point the X2Y2s can be dismissive or encouraging, it doesn't matter, as soon the little XY is packing a bag filled with an array of random food and drink and setting out on a mode of transport (car, helicopter, street cleaner) to find the XYs. First he discovers the land of [new colour/ shape combo] whose inhabitants are unfortunately unaware of the location of the XYs, but suggest he try the [yet another shape/ colour combo]s who live by the Prominent Geographical Feature over there. This can go on until your brain rots and the little XY is finally reunited with other XYs like himself. He can then live with them forever or live with them for a bit but then go back to the X2Y2s who have been so kind to him (or both, if HackneyChild is telling the story).

Shakespeare this is not. I remember in What Katy Did Next the eponymous Katy is forced to relate the incredibly dull adventures of two little girls called Violet and Emma to the little girl Amy she is travelling around Europe with. "Now, Violet and Emma, if the truth is to be told, had grown to be the bane of Katy's existence. She had rung the changes on their uneventful adventures, and racked her brains to invent more and more details, till her imagination felt like a dry sponge from which every possible drop of moisture had been squeezed." So she kills them off, to the distress of her young charge. I really feel for Katy at this point.

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