Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Cerrie At CBeebies

A few months back, Cerrie Burnell was appointed as a presenter with the BBC’s channel for small children, CBeebies. She was born with one arm and doesn’t try to disguise the fact. This led to a small number of parents complaining to the BBC. They claimed their children were scared of her. They feared it might give their children nightmares. They didn’t know how to explain why she only had one arm. They felt the BBC were only doing it to be politically correct, even at the expense of their children.

My feeling was that the complaints reflected more on the parents’ fears, their own inability to cope with difference, their own discomfort with disability, their own lack of communication skills. I don’t think children tend to be bothered in the slightest by this kind of thing.

However, I wondered about my own daughter. She is autistic – very intelligent and high-functioning, but nonetheless, she likes things to be ‘correct.’ She’s not the biggest fan of incompleteness and I wondered how she would react. Well, she didn’t seem to notice at all at first, although she perhaps did and never said anything. The months went by and nothing was ever mentioned.

A few nights ago, we were watching CBeebies together and she said to me, completely out of the blue, “Cerrie’s only got one arm.” I asked her if she minded that. “No,” she replied. There was a pause of about a minute. She then said, “I wish I only had one arm too.”

So, worried parents who are afraid your children might have nightmares – there’s your answer…

4 comments:

Sorlil said...

I think she's a great presenter and I think all the complaints say more about the parents than the kids.

Jim Murdoch said...

I can fully understand your daughter's comment. What I would take from that is not that she wishes she only had one arm but that she could experience having only one arm. Hell, even I'm curious about how she does things and what it must feel like. I think that's a perfectly natural response. Kids are far more open that we adults. And a lot less shockable too. They accept the world as it comes not as it ought to be. I've seen Cerrie interviewed and was quite taken by her.

Rob said...

That could be it, Jim. I think also that she just likes Cerrie and wants to be like her.

tinks said...

i think cerrie is a great presenter and she shows that she doesnt let her disability get in the way! my partners dad lost his arm in the faulklands war and even at 15 months my daughter knows somethings different an walks aronud him in circles when she tries to give him things, as if she was looking for his other arm. but she soon gives up and settles for the other arm and a cuddle! i think its only natural children should be brought up knowing about different disabilities! and for parents who think cerrie scare children, i personally thinks its the parents who are scared of facing the questions which are only natural about something which is becoming more common knowledge to children!