Yes! We’ll Be Your Neighbor (Also: Someone Needs to Fill Mr. Rogers’ Shoes — Like, NOW)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A few months ago, we introduced our son to the magic of television. And by magic I mean Sesame Street. The Youngster didn’t start watching TV until shortly after his third birthday. Partly because the kid didn’t show any interest in that box (when it was on, anyway <—DON”T EVEN TAKE ME BACK TO THIS MADNESS!) and partly because of all that we had read about exposing kids under the age of 2 to TV.

Our fist misstep was going with movies. DVDs. He’s such a car/truck fan, we figured letting him watch the latest animated car flick was a good move. It was … for about a two weeks. Then we thought we’d get jiggy and add some animated insects to the mix. Wrong, wrong, wrong. These cuddly (if ants can be that) bugs were talking about “killing this” and “squashing that one’s head” and all brands of grown-folk themes.

So that DVD went missing. Mysteriously, of course. And soon the kid stopped asking to watch it.  Then one day after lunch, I wanted to check something about the weather. OK, fine. I wanted to set the DVR to record Grey’s Anatomy. Judge me! Anyway, the telly was on PBS and Sesame Street was already under way. The Youngster knew some of the show’s main muppets (Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster) from his books. We decided to watch.

And like that, we were hooked.

Photo credit: AP

Watching this show that I adored as a kid with my own kid was one of those great moments. Everything felt warm and familiar about it. There were quite a few new characters, and many from the old gang remain. Mind you, Gordon has got to be part vampire. The man is 68 and hasn’t aged. He’s been on the Street for 39 years!

It got me thinking about some of the other must-see TV shows of my childhood. There was Captain Kangaroo and The Electric Company. The one with Morgan “The Narrator” Freeman. Oh, and  Mr. Dress Up (<—showing my Canadian roots there). Plus, we can’t forget Zoom.

“Write Zoom.  Box 3-5-0, Boston, Mass Oh-2-1-3-fouurrrrr. Send it to Zoom!” 

That ditty is stained on my brain. Clearly.

Then there was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Wasn’t it just wonderful? I was reminded of how magical Fred Rogers and his show were after this video that PBS Digital Studios created went viral over the last two days. (It’s five percent trippy and 95 percent inspirational.)

The “Garden of Your Mind” video made me think about another clip from Fred Rogers. One that despite being 15 years old is brimming with love and fresh genius. He is accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 24th Annual Daytime Emmys.

The moment that will make you clutch your chest is when Fred Rogers, humble and true, says this:

“All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are.”

After watching the three-minute video above, I felt hugged. I also felt the pressing need for another Mister Rogers to come along and move into our neighborhoods. Soonest.

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