Our ‘How We Roll’ campaign was centred around modern families. Charlie Condou, Coronation Street actor and television personality is in a same sex relationship with two children and gives us a personal account of a few of his experiences being in a modern yet wonderful family.
I guess we always knew we’d get to this point, I just didn’t think we’d get here so soon. Georgia is starting to become aware that her family is not like other families. I should start by explaining that Georgia’s name for Cam is Wawa. Before she was born we’d decided that, like a lot of gay couples, we’d be Daddy and Papa. That was fine until Georgia started to talk. ‘Daddy’ she could manage, but ‘Papa’ mutated into ‘Wawa’. Cam liked it, so it stuck.
So, we reached this family milestone. It started at the mother and baby yoga class that she takes with Catherine, her mum. One of the positions, The Snake, involves lying on the floor and curling into bigger or smaller coils. First the class do the Mummy Snake, a medium sized coil. Then comes the Baby Snake, a tight little coil. Finally, they do the Daddy Snake which is the biggest coil. As the class started to move on to the next exercised, Georgia looked at Catherine and asked “What about the Wawa Snake?” Wawa is as integral a part of her family as Mummy or Daddy and she couldn’t understand why he didn’t get his own snake exercise. So, of course, Catherine got down on the floor with her and they made a Wawa Snake.
The next incident happened a few days later, presumably prompted, at least in part, by the yoga experience. I was in a cafe with Georgia having a babyccino (what, you thought the baby yoga was a middle-class as it gets?) and, sitting at a table on the other side of the cafe, was another little girl and a man. Georgia’s at that nosy age, where she wants to know who everyone is and what they’re doing (like I have this information about every random stranger we happen across). So she spots a couple that look a bit like us she’s intrigued. “Look” she said “There’s a little girl”. And then, pointing at the man “Who’s that?” I told her that I didn’t know exactly, but that it was probably her daddy or her Wawa. At this she looked at me with a serious little face. “No” She replied. “Only Georgia has a Wawa”.
Of course she’s noticed, she’s a smart kid. In fact, I’m incredibly proud of how smart she is, after all she’s not even two-and-a-half yet, she’s clearly a genius. So she’s noticed that Peppa Pig has a Mummy Pig and a Daddy Pig, but she doesn’t have a Wawa Pig. She’s noticed that nobody on Cbeebies has a Wawa and nobody in her story books has a Wawa. Why would they? Georgia’s family may not be entirely unique, but it is certainly unusual and kids’ telly, not surprisingly, caters to the mainstream. While I don’t expect to see gay families popping up all over the place, it’d certainly be nice to see some differently-shaped families being represented. After all, Georgia is far from the only child growing up in a non-stereotypical family. What about children being raised by grandparents or step-parents, what about those with half-siblings or separated parents? Children’s television is remarkably narrow in its definition of family and I can’t help but think that must leave an awful lot of kids feeling marginalised.
With Georgia we said we’d cross this bridge when we got to it, and that’s what we’re trying to do. In the cafe that day I told Georgia that some other children do have a Wawa, but that no, most don’t. And the next time Catherine went to yoga, her thoughtful yoga teacher included a Wawa snake exercise for everyone. As Georgia gets older she will gain clarity over how her family works and what makes it unusual. At the moment she simply feels blessed, lucky to have a Wawa when her poor friends don’t get one. Her little friends call Cam Wawa too, and he seems to like that. He’s called Wawa by all of them, but Georgia knows that he belongs to her. There’s only one Wawa, and he’s hers.