I live in a child’s world, know all members of Paw Patrol and the words to Let it Go

Kevin Power: I catch myself singing ‘Yes, yes, bedtime’s good for you’. All day. All week

If I say the word “CoComelon” to you, you will likely respond in one of two ways: either it will mean nothing, or you will wince in pained recognition.

Does CoComelon feature in your life? Do its twinkly melodies haunt your sleep? No? I infer, then, that either you do not currently have small children, or that you have not yet sacrificed the small children you do have to the CoComelon cult. But if you haven’t, I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time.

What is CoComelon? It began as a popular YouTube channel in 2018, and has since migrated to streaming TV. It offers a harmless-sounding distraction for toddlers: nursery rhymes and kids’ songs acted out by a computer-animated American family and their entourage of anthropomorphic animal friends.

The family consists of Daddy (huge jaw, affable as a Scientologist), Mommy (smiling, dead-eyed), JJ (aged two, bald except for a cute blond forelock), YoYo (girl, otherwise no discernible characteristics), and TomTom (boy, otherwise no discernible characteristics).


In various combinations, and joined by assorted hangers-on, eg JJ’s playgroup pals, these characters sing and perform songs like The Wheels on the Bus and Row, Row, Row Your Boat, as well as original numbers like Sorry, Excuse Me and Yes Yes Bedtime Song.

In Matt Groening’s Futurama there is a TV show that consists entirely of an alien toad beaming hypnotic rays into your brain, rendering you slack-jawed and inert. This is the effect that CoComelon has on toddlers.

“Wanna watch CoComelon!” our daughter says, when TV time arrives. CoComelon is duly activated. Now our daughter is beyond reach. A hand waved in front of her face produces no reaction: not a blink. She is under the sway of the HypnoToad.

There is a sense in which CoComelon is an extremely useful parenting tool. It buys us half an hour of quiet in which to cook dinner, for example. And it broadcasts unadulterated pro-parent propaganda. Your Mommy and Daddy love you! Brushing your teeth is fun! Wearing sunscreen is fun! Useful stuff, this.

But there is also a sense in which CoComelon is streamed directly from the fiery pits of hell. The songs, for instance. The songs that enter your mind and settle there, like the larvae of some suppurating parasite. Children’s songs are simple; they are also catchy. That’s why children like them. It’s also why they are so difficult to dislodge from the parental brain.

Wheels on the Bus I can deal with. If You’re Happy and You Know It has its charms. More to the point, these songs are so familiar to me that I can dismiss them without effort from my inner soundscape; I have built up, over decades, an adult immunity to these childhood tunes.

But when it comes to CoComelon’s original numbers, this is not the case. Exposed to Yes Yes Bedtime Song on a daily basis, my melodic immune system collapses.

Walking around the house, I catch myself singing, “Yes, yes, bedtime’s good for you…” I realise I have been doing it all day. I realise I have been doing it all week. Composing a work email, I sit and think – what to say next? But the only thing in my head is “Yes Yes Bedtime Song”. Yay yay yay, I like it, ooh!

In revolt, I change the words. I make the song about what it means to be a parent. “Toil, toil, a life of endless toil...” But the tune is still in there. I try again. “Live, live, I’ve lost the will to live...” There is no escape.

Having small children means living in a small child’s world. It means knowing the names and catchphrases of every extant member of Paw Patrol. It means knowing all the words to Let it Go, and which dress belongs to which Disney princess. And it means listening to nursery songs.

But you have to do all of this with your adult mind, with its learned habits of irony and scepticism. Which are of no help to you, really, when you’re spending time with your child. Your child doesn’t want you to point out how irritating it is that the kid who sings Baby Shark can’t pronounce the word shark and sings baby shirk instead. She has no use for your caustic rewrites of Yes Yes Bedtime Song.

These things are useful only to you, the parent, in those scant off-hours when you wonder about gathering the remnants of your obliterated personality. Most of the time, the cultural stuff that obsesses your children is fascinating to you, too, because, since all parents suffer of necessity from advanced Stockholm Syndrome, everything about your kids is fascinating – even Yes Yes Bedtime Song. See, see, Daddy likes the song!

In a few years there will be no more CoComelon in my life. Its successor, of course, could easily be worse. But I’m up for it. I’m ready. See the Jonestown gleam in my sleep-deprived eyes? All hail the HypnoToad!