Big Bird is Saved!

As I was looking around my child care room today I noticed exactly how many ways PBS is part of my life – literally on a daily basis.

Miss S got me started. She picked up my Oscar toy and asked what it was for. I said, “When those men were running for President, one of them said he would get rid of ‘Sesame Street.’ But he didn’t win, so I put Oscar out to celebrate.”

She said she knew, and started speaking quite eloquently about it. I’ve had her since she was two – I forget she’s in second grade now and can comprehend things.

She told me that a boy in her class talked about it because his mother works for PBS. I said, “He must have been afraid that his mother might lose her job.”

She nodded, very serious. Then she asked, “No PBSKids?” Which is one of her favorite things to play on the computer, and it’s one of the ways I entertain her when the littles are napping.

I said yes. Then Younger Son asked, “There’d be no Wild Kratts?” and I was actually a bit stricken.

Through their shows, the Kratt brothers have stoked my son’s love for everything wild. He is obsessed with nature and all its creatures and how to preserve it. In fact one of the things he wants to be when he grows up is someone who “travels the world and helps animals.”

So with this conversation in my mind, I began to pick out all the things I see every day that came from PBS.

This poster came with my “Mr. Rogers Plan and Play” curriculum book. Most of the time I forget it’s there, like everything that eventually blends into the walls, but whenever I do notice it I get a smile.

I made this t-shirt for my sister but she’s not sure she can wear it in public without offending people. It’s a nightshirt now. (For those of you who don’t remember, it was “The Electric Company” teaching us about tolerance. What nonsense PBS fills kids’ heads with!)

I found this gem in a library book sale and as soon as I opened the book I remembered the pictures from reading them as a child. It was a visceral reaction.

OK I’ll just say it. I was screaming at the book sale and embarrassing my children.

On Monday of this week we listened to “Songs From the Street” while we were using Play-Doh. I used the Frontline website to research an education article the other day, and recommended a Nova documentary about doctor-assisted suicide to a friend. The list is practically endless.

I don’t know if the President even has the ability to eliminate PBS. But I’m just so glad we don’t have to find out.

By the way. Best children’s book ever?

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The Peanut Butter’s OK, but the Jelly’s Feeling a Little Depressed

You go places with kids that you never expected to go. Today it was discussing the feelings of all the inanimate objects at the lunch table.

Everything we present to kids in a formal setting is happy. Happy TV shows, happy posters, happy songs, happy movies, happy books… When you can find the rare story or show that deals with kids on another level – without lecturing –┬áit’s a beautiful thing. Like Dr. Seuss’s “My Many Colored Days” (written when he was a child, natch) or Arthur. I love that neurotic little aardvark.

Not only do kids not talk about emotions like adults do, they pretty much can’t. Their brains don’t have the capacity for self-examination (doesn’t that explain so, so much?). We have to be aware that they’re feeling a lot more than just “Fine!”

Well, of course, that may be stating the obvious.

And we must be very, very sneaky in getting the truth out of them. My boys are always one step ahead of me, so any advice on 10- and 8-year-old boys would be just great.

A couple of my kids are going through a rough patch so at lunch I made a point of talking about how we were feeling. Miss R said, “I’m feeling tired, but giggly.” We laughed about that and noticed that every face on the Sesame Street ABC poster on the wall was smiling. Except for the two where Elmo was stuffing his face. I said, “Hey, where’s Oscar? We need some grouchiness here.”

Even Oscar was smiling, but he was holding a T for Tomato, so I said, “Maybe he’s only happy because he’s going to throw that tomato at us!”

That’s when they started asking me about how everything was feeling. All of a sudden I realized I had them. I just let loose, telling them about the Jelly’s friend who kept taking all her toys, and it just made her so sad that she couldn’t make herself feel better.

I don’t know if they get it, or they just like to make me look like a lunatic.

Either way, I was happy to notice that Miss D reached over and hugged Miss C, who’d been melting down all morning and making us plug our ears from the crying. Small miracles.

If you want to intentionally make this happen, try a puppet. Kids will spill their guts to a puppet, I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because they really want to tell you what’s going on, and it’s just easier when they can tell it to a weird fuzzy talking thing on the end of your arm.