Full circle. When life comes together in this way it’s worth taking a moment to drink it in. One such moment happened when my son, Mr. Carter, discovered “Sesame Street.”
He isn’t even 2 years old yet and has already mastered the iPad. When he isn’t trying to Skype with Grandma Millie Pete, his favorite pastime is the PBS Kids Video app, where he has access to Elmo anytime he wants. Having grown up with “Sesame Street” myself, I can’t help but tear when the famous harmonica notes begin and I watch him sway to the same theme song I heard countless times when I was his age. He could care less about my favorites, Bert and Ernie or Big Bird, but how fulfilling it is to have a television program last long enough to be generational.
The program that comes a close second on Mr. Carter’s favorites list is another familiar show, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” Familiar because it takes place in the Land of Make Believe from its inspiration, “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” All the creatures we got to know as kids like Daniel Striped Tiger, X the Owl, and Henrietta Pussycat are now grown with their own children, and those kids are the focus of this modern animated series. Its theme song is based on Mr. Roger’s original, and another tune that choked me up when Mr. Carter began to obsessively repeat it.
I can’t help but think of what other shows Mr. Carter might pick up from Mom. There’s the original “Electric Company,” highlighting the talents of Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno and responsible for the choice of Spiderman as my favorite superhero. Then there’s Bugs Bunny, a staple of Saturday mornings in my house and the one cartoon that can bring back memories of my father’s bellowing laugh at the antics of Wile E. Coyote and Foghorn Leghorn. Just reminiscing about them has inspired me to purchase these classics and place them in toddler-eye view, in case someone makes the choice to view them himself. Just saying.
I have come to understand that part of our basic human condition is the need for acceptance, to be part of something or someone, and the acceptance by a child of the things his or her parents loved can be the ultimate fulfillment for that adult. Being able to already share the same experience of my first television shows with my son is incredibly satisfying, and I can’t help but feel like a little kid again when watching him learn these lessons for the first time. His first words in Spanish, the letter of the day, and reciting numbers with The Count to name a few.
He isn’t old enough to realize, however, the most important lesson about life can be found in that very nostalgic song, since as an adult it’s way too easy to allow fear to separate yourself from the world.