There are few things as timeless as Sesame Street. Few things we can say, “We grew up watching this and now we get to watch it with you too” some 44 years later with our 5 year olds. The Old School Sesame Street shows are a trip. You think you have forgotten certain things about your childhood and then BAM it all comes right back and you know the faces and the songs and the messages because they are in your heart. We 1970s kids had it going on, man.
I have soft spots. Almost all of me is soft at this point, really, but that’s another story. One of my soft spots is children’s programming, in particular PBS. And while Sesame Street is now on HBO, it still airs reruns on PBS and it did for decades before moving over to a paid cable channel.
What I love about PBS kids is you can turn it on in the morning, and literally leave it on all damn day (NOT THAT I WOULD EVER DO THAT GRACIOUS NO) and never ever worry that anything is inappropriate. No obnoxious commercials, no luring, no ulterior motives other than educational children’s television.
Their grandma got them some of these SS figures when they were wee babes and they’ve hung around far longer than I thought they would. They now sit in the windowsill of their bedroom keeping kind watch over them and the neighborhood.
Last week at Target my boy found a set of them that had a few characters they didn’t already have – Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover. He of course asked to get it and both my husband and I brushed it off because they don’t really still want Sesame Street toys do they? At five years old? I thought they were into Star Wars and LOL dolls and all kinds of other weird stuff that I’m just starting to learn about. But Sesame Street? Well that’s a wonderful surprise.
Yesterday my boy was sick and stayed home from school with me and he looked at me with those sad, sick, beautiful big brown eyes and said, “I want my sesame street characters” and so we got them down and he quietly played as his sister was off at school learning about penguins and wondering about what we were doing at home without her.
As we ran to Target on our weekly trip, he quietly asked again from his pitiful state in the backseat, almost asleep from the sick and tireds, “Mama can we maybe look for those other Sesame Street characters and see how expensive they are and maybe get them?”
As any lovesick fool of a mother would do, we walked out of the store with them in hand and they’ve been played with and talked about for a solid day now and we also watched a bunch of SS this morning and made up shows with Elmo and Abby and the Count and Rosita and the new to us crew joined right in.
You would think they might be too old for some things by now, and they are, but when they connect with something so unabashedly as they do with Sesame Street, it makes my heart swell.
My boy has been doing this thing lately where he will saying something and then say, “but promise not to tell anybody” because he is kind of embarrassed about liking something that he thinks might not be cool or that maybe other kids don’t like so much and I promise not to tell anybody but in my heart I am holding on to this sweetness and light. This pure and unfiltered love for all things that they just like upon liking. Simple.
Remember when we were allowed to just like what we like instead of now where any time you say you like something people want to stone you for it? I’m old enough to not give a rip and settle into what I like without a care, but I mean we still watch and enjoy Caillou for gobs sake and I’ll bet a handful of you will report me for even having the audacity to say that.
Children’s programming and Sesame Street in particular gives me great hope. Great courage. It’s been a balm in these times of divisiveness and extremism of sides and tearing each other apart. I see the simple beauty of the messages shared with our kids and I want them to stay in PBS land forever. Hell, I’m 44 and I live in PBS land adult programming quite a bit for the same reasons. Call the Midwife is my favorite – all I want to do is watch that show.
These kids are growing up and it’s a trip to watch who they are becoming and how many of their core messages we try our best to lead with are reinforced each day by television shows. No shame, no guilt, no regrets. Sesame Street can help raise my kids any damn day. Have you watched it lately? It’s kind and gentle and funny and smart and while not the same SS we grew up with, it’s kept at it’s core that we can all be kind to one another and look beyond the surface to discover what’s really going on. Empathy. To learn from one another.
I’m grateful for any port in the storm of this world, of this parenting gig, of this being a human being. And if my kids want more Sesame Street characters, well, dammit I’m going to get them. Even if my husband thinks I’m a sucker. Sesame Street forever.
Five Year Old Twins
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