Friday, 17 February 2012

A Pointless obsession

Photo credit - LegendsWeb
Monkey is a bit of an obsessive. He throws himself wholeheartedly into new interests and wants to know everything about it. He loves his facts, so he'll be asking questions constantly  - like, with football, he'll want to know where a player for a particular team signed from, what country they play for, and probably what they had for breakfast. I would suggest it is quite a male thing but I remember learning the capital cities of all countries, something Monkey has been doing since we bought him a world atlas, and bolstered by our recent purchase of the brilliant app, Stack the Countries, which teaches children (and grown ups!) all sorts about the countries of the world.

But over the last few months, he has developed a growing obsession that has shaped our family routines in the late afternoon and early evening and has sucked in the rest of the family. Well, apart from Missy Woo, who normally wanders off somewhere else in the house to do something else.



His new obsession is Pointless. Notice the capital letter. I am not denigrating his new obsession as pointless, I mean Pointless.

Most of you probably know what it is, but it's a quiz show that is on BBC1 at 5.15pm on weekdays and it's a kind of reverse Family Fortunes. The questions have been asked of 100 people and the aim of the game is to find the answers that they didn't know. The holy grail is to find "pointless answers" - one that no-one had given when asked.

Monkey's day are built around 5.15 every day. We used to have tea at 5pm but this is a bit late for him and he risks missing the beginning, something he gets very stressed about. We have actually worked out that the first five minutes is introducing the pairs of contestants so it doesn't matter if we're not done by then but he still gets antsy. We record every programme for him so that if we're not done, we can watch it on delay but still it bothers him. As a result, I try to get tea ready early. On Thursdays, Monkey has football until 5pm and   we have to assure him we'll get him home in time for the first question.

Being 6, Monkey doesn't know most of the answers and looks to us for killer answers or to confirm before they start to count down the score whether it's right or not. However, there are some categories that he likes, because he can do them. One is words, there is of course football, but another is flags.

If a category is words, he'll randomly make up words and shout them out as they occur to him. They are not always right and he does get very creative but he does come up with a few good ones.

And then, flags. They are in the atlas mentioned previously, and he has a chart on his wall with all the flags of the world listed. I realised when we bought Stack the Countries just how many he knows off by heart. It is a revelation which makes me wonder just how early he wakes in the mornings as he must lie there scrutinising his chart for hours. Show him a flag and he'll rattle off the country casually in a blink of an eye, even the more obscure countries on this earth.

Recently, he has become disgruntled. As soon as Pointless starts, he gets out his treasured, but now dog-eared atlas "just in case flags are on today". Every time a category is announced and it's not remotely related to flags or geography, he expresses his huffy disgust that it is not to his liking. He's appeased and gets very excited if it's word or football related, but still it's not flags.

The other day, I somewhat misguidedly and rather jokily offered to tweet Alexander Armstrong to ask if they can have flags more often. Monkey thought this was a good idea. So I did.


The following morning, when I was out at my Body Pump class, I got a mention, looked at it on my phone, and found this:

I excitedly showed this to Monkey when I got home and he was over the moon as this is his equivalent of getting a tweet from a top celebrity. Alas, I fear he might have taken it rather literally. For that evening, he displayed that form of huffy disappointment that only he can do when he discovered that the closest they came to flags was American Geography in the final. We could at least use the atlas for that. "Where are the flags they promised me?" he grumbled. He obviously thought it was a live programme so we had to explain about how they make most programmes in advance, recording them and then putting them together later, which means that you see programmes weeks after it happened. We cheered him up a bit but he was a bit grumpy.

So, Alexander, if you're reading this, please make sure you're good to your word. My son is watching you. Every. Single. Day. Sitting there, with his atlas and hoping for a flag question and getting cross when there is none. It will be like Christmas and his birthday combined when one crops up. His birthday is on 9th March, in case you're wondering. (Long shot!)
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