JONATHAN SACCONE-JOLY: HOW I WAS RAISED
The superstar family vlogger talks about his sad childhood and how he's making it different for his own children...
Jonathan Saccone-Joly is a superstar family vlogger, with nearly two million subscribers to his family’s YouTube channel. He and his American wife Anna, and their children Emilia, Eduardo and Alessia, live in Surrey and broadcast every day. Jonathan has just written his first children’s book, called The SACCONEJOLYs and The Great Cat-Nap
I didn’t have the happiest of childhoods. I was born in Dublin in 1980. We didn’t have a phone, a TV or the internet. My world existed of a rock in the garden and eight other kids in my street.
My parents were very unhappy, but divorce wasn’t something that was legal. And we had no money, so that was fun.
I was a little boy who was very interested in reading poetry and dancing, and living in my imagination and being expressive, in a time when that was not really how boys acted. So either you hid how you felt about things or you got beaten up at school. I now look at my son Eduardo, and he’s allowed to wear dresses around the house and he can be creative and emotional, and that’s ok.
My earliest memory is being squashed in the backseat of our car. It was before car seats were a thing, and we would all pile into the back. I was child number three so never got a window, and was constantly being squashed when we went around corners.
My siblings and I never used to fight. We banded together because our parents were the enemy.
I had an imaginary friend, a lamb called Domby, who I used to talk to out loud. It’s kind of what I’m doing now on my channel: talking out loud to Domby.
My father is called John. And his father, and it goes back forever. My father said I was to be called John, and my mum said, ‘No way, we’re putting an end to it,’ so they eventually compromised with Jonathan.
Fortunately my parents couldn’t film me being born. My daughter Emilia has a video of her birth, and, because of that, she tells me she remembers being born.
We were all breastfed babies until we were a year old. My mother kept it going, and none of us had a dummy, and we were shouted if we sucked our thumbs.
My dad got me the Agent Arthur books when I was a kid. They were amazing, and interactive, and you could read one 100 times and it will would still be different. That magic definitely influenced me to write a children’s book.
I remember the first day of school very well. My mum was one of those people who would find the child most likely to succeed in the world, the one who was going to be a doctor, and she would talk to their mum and make us be friends. She did that to me on my first day, she introduced me to another boy, and said, ‘This is my son Jonathan’, and when I said hello I peed in the chair I was sitting in. So that friendship did not start.
I have lived in about 30 different places and been through so many relationships, and every time you move on, you lose more stuff. So I have a small box of memories at Anna’s mom’s house, and that’s it, those are the remnants of my past. My kids have their blankys and their toys, and I want to preserve their past for them. I’d like them always to be able to come back and sleep in their beds.
My early passion was performance and creativity. I’d draw cartoons, and act in plays. I was a nightclub dancer at university. The book I’ve written is a way of me doing something cool for my kids.
:: The SACCONEJOLYs and The Great Cat-Nap publishes Oct 19 (available to pre-order) in all good bookshops and online (Egmont).