This is a photo of my girls enjoying a “movie afternoon” watching their new favourite TV show: Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. It’s fair to say the six year old is late to the party on this one, but better late than never and all that. Baby Girl has turned into a mini dictator when it comes to the remote control (honestly – if there’s one person who could whip Donald Trump into line it’s my smallest daughter), so apart from Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly is pretty much all we’re allowed to watch at the moment.
Anyway, watching Ben and Holly with them (what? Don’t judge – it’s a great show!) got me thinking there are a few lessons the newly inaugurated Executive Order happy US president could learn from this sweet kids’ cartoon.
1. How to be friends with people who aren’t like you
In case you’ve dodged the Ben and Holly bullet, here’s a recap: Ben is an elf and he’s very proud of that fact. Holly is a fairy and equally proud of her fairy status. Elves and fairies are very different. Fairies like magic and have a generally more laid back attitude to life, while elves are solid grafters and will always prefer the satisfaction of doing a job by hand than resorting to magic. However, despite their obvious differences, Ben and Holly are best friends. In fact, the elves and fairies rub along very nicely together (although there is often conflict between the Wise Old Elf and Nanny Plum, but you could argue that’s elf-fairy sexual tension…).
2. Difference can be a good thing
What the elves lack in fun, the fairies make up for. And what the fairies lack in practical nouse, the elves make up for. Together, they manage to solve problems (like going to the moon, for example) without too much elf-fairy fracas. In fact, they often learn things from one another and use their differences to make the Little Kingdom a better, more interesting and fun place.
3. It’s important to look after the environment
I don’t think either Ben or Holly would take a very kind view to Donald Trump’s “climate change does not exist” approach. Both the elves and the fairies are committed to looking after their Little Kingdom and often discuss ways to care for the animals around them, or do their bit for recycling. Take note, Donald.
4. Choose respect over fear and hate
So I mentioned Nanny Plum (a fairy) and the Wise Old Elf just now. Both are deeply committed to their respective fairy and elf status and are often at odds with each other’s approach to doing things. Nanny Plum likes to be in charge, but the Wise Old Elf generally thinks his is the best way of doing things and so, tension is borne. But rather than throw their toys out of the pram and refuse to speak to each other (apart from the occasional spell to turn the elf into a frog), they opt for a grudging respect which reaps huge rewards for the Little Kingdom as a whole.
5. You can be in charge and not know everything
King Thistle (Holly’s dad) is a bit of an idiotic Daddy Pig character. He thinks he knows it all but often ends up with egg on his face. The thing that sets him apart and, in my opinion makes him a far greater leader than Donald Trump (yes, I just went there) is that he has the ability to admit when he’s wrong. He doesn’t always concede defeat gracefully or immediately, but he’s willing to hear the other side of the argument and often be steered in that direction. Listening, Donald?
6. Generosity pays
In the mythical world of Little Kingdom, the fairies and elves face much the same challenges as us humans, albeit on a far tinier (like, literally, miniscule – they’re the size of ants) scale. One theme that comes up regularly is the idea of generosity and how, if you’re kind and generous, you’ll be a happier person (or elf, or fairy).
7. Women are equal to men
Finally, and possibly most importantly, Ben and Holly live in a world (or “Little Kingdom”) where boys and girls, men and women are considered equally important. In fact, you could argue the person really running the show is Nanny Plum. She has an answer for everything and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, even if it means upsetting the Wise Old Elf. Holly and Ben enjoy the same kid things as any other children, despite one being a girl (and fairy) and one being a boy (and elf). Yes, it would be even better in terms of gender stereotypes if Holly was an elf and Ben was a fairy, but I guess that’s a show for another time.