In the early days with their long-awaited baby boy Asher William, who arrived on January 2, 2021, Simon Pryce and Lauren Hannaford were captivated by his eyes blinking back at them.
“What does he see?” they wondered aloud.
“At the moment it’s black and white,” the nurses told them. “Or a shadow, it’s not super clear.”
Naturally curious, this piqued the pair’s interest.
And in the coming days and weeks they began to research just how a child’s eyesight develops.
First, they learned, it would be black and white geometric shapes. But eventually colour would come along.
“The first colours they see are red and green,” Lauren explains.
“So, he saw me first,” laughs Simon, who has been donning the Red Wiggle skivvy since 2013.
“Well, me and Dorothy the Dinosaur.”
And so Look Learn Grow was born – a boxed book set that helps children’s eye development in their first six months of life.
It’s a project that, the duo laugh, was far easier to bring to life than it’s proving to keep up with Asher now that he’s reached 17 months of age.
“He is busy,” Lauren says with a smile undimmed by underlying exhaustion. “He’s running around non-stop at The Wiggles shows, straight for the stairs trying to get on stage saying, ‘Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad’.”
“I look up and see Asher running around the auditorium,” laughs Simon, “with Lauren chasing after him.”
With Asher, The Wiggles have created a super-fan.
Not only does he have his own Red Wiggle shirt, which he wears with pride, but they recently gave him a portable speaker, which he carries around blasting his favourite tracks from his father’s band and dancing along.
“In Adelaide he was going down the corridor into everyone’s dressing room and he was grooving,” Lauren laughs.
“He just loves music. We have tried other [kid’s shows] on the TV and he’s just not interested. But as soon as there is anything that is music which is Wiggles, he just loves it.”
So, are they training up the next generation of Red Wiggle?
“Who knows?” Simon shrugs. “He loves music. He’s also pretty physical and with Lauren’s background as an elite gymnast, who knows? But gone are the days where you follow in your mother or father’s footsteps.”
Asher arrived in the height of the COVID pandemic. Given Simon’s work sees him touring eight to nine months a year, it was a blessing in disguise for the young family.
“Apparently you need to be in the same place at the same time to fall pregnant,” Simon jokes. “And now having all this time together [through lockdowns] has been a blessing. Now we’re touring again, Lauren and Asher have been coming on the road. It’s been a bit of an adventure, different hotel rooms every night and in and out of cars but it means we can be together, which is the most important thing.”
Given Simon, 50, and Lauren, 36, originally met on tour – Lauren played several characters including Dorothy, Wags the Dog and Henry the Octopus as well as back-up dancing for the band – it feels natural that this is how they are spending their early days of parenthood.
And the time together has helped them both rediscover the qualities that originally made them fall in love, before marrying in 2017.
“Everybody asks what it’s like performing for audiences,” says Simon, sentimental mist forming in his eyes.
“We get the best show because we watch parents watch the show through their children’s eyes. It’s the same now. Loz has always been the same person but now I’m watching it through Asher, her channelling it into Asher. She’s the most generous, loving person you’ll ever meet.”
“Si is the greatest person, sweet, gentle and kind,” says Lauren in response, also reaching for a tissue.
“He’s such a good teacher and so loving. All of that is enhanced and seeing that going directly down to Asher is really nice.”
By this stage the duo is laughing through happy tears, their love for each other palpable.
“We were always very emotional,” Lauren says. “We cry at ads on TV.”
For now, they say, Asher will remain an only child as they focus on giving him their full attention during these early months and years. But in the future more children are something that is definitely on their radar.
“I feel if we start focusing on that we start taking the time we have away from Asher, which is really important, so let’s just enjoy that for now,” explains Lauren.
“It would be beautiful to have a second one and maybe it’s never practical, but it doesn’t feel like the right time,” adds Simon. “But we don’t want to wait too long either or we’ll be 100!”
The Wiggles: Look Learn Grow Boxed Set by Simon Pryce and Lauren Hannaford (Are Media Books), RRP $29.99. Purchase your copy here.
You can read this story and many others in the August issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly – on sale now!