Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I was raised by Muppets

I learned about life by watching Sesame Street. So many life lessons were learned on the street: Making friends, compromising, and counting in Spanish. Gordon was the first black man I'd ever encountered. Kermit the roving reporter inspired me to become a journalist.

We lived in the country. After my brother hopped on the bus, I would eat breakfast and Mom and I would head outside to do chores or other tasks of farm life. But mostly, I played with the sheep and chased the cats.

By 11:30 we'd be back inside and my mother would let me turn on the television. South Dakota Public Television was one of three channels that came in clearly. The first notes of the theme and seeing the kids and Big Bird walking through the grass would send me running to my mother urging her to start the water for macaroni and cheese.

As the water boiled and the noodles cooked I watched Kermit, Grover, Oscar and Cookie Monster learned about a world that seemed so foreign to a preschooler living in rural western South Dakota. I admit "Monster Piece Theatre" scared me, and I giggled madly when they decided they needed to count all thieves from "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves."

The life events that happened on Sesame Street seemed to mirror what was happening in my own life. Maria and Louis had Gabby about the same time my little brother was born. Mr. Hooper died shortly before my grandmother did. Seeing how the Muppets coped with life somehow made it OK for me to be worried if my parents would have time for me after the baby was born and to be sad about Grandma Edie dying.

As I've grown up I realized the skits, parodies and events at 123 Sesame Street mirrored pop culture, great literature and world events. Looking back, I think the combination of Sesame Street and my parents' influence played a critical role in developing my love of literature and learning.

I'm now the parent of 3-year-old twins. As cliche as it sounds as much as things change, they stay the same. I still live in the country. It's western Iowa instead of South Dakota. We get four television channels over the air and one of them happens to be Iowa Public Broadcasting. Sesame Street is a big part of my children's lives.

The format has changed a bit. The theme has a hip-hop bend. The Muppets are still there, so are the lessons. Interestingly enough I find the show draws me in much like it did when I was a child. Perhaps not quite to the extent of E-minion and I-minion are. They are exploring their world via the same street I did. Unfortunately the worlds are completely different. I am comforted that the kind words of Maria and the rest of the Muppets (including one of my favorites, Grover) are there to guide my babies as they grow up.

Today marks the premier of the 40th Season of Sesame Street. The Minions and I will be watching at 5:30 p.m., when it airs on IPTV. So in honor of the anniversary I am providing a couple of videos marking some of the best of the best. One old school clip -- Kermit the Frog, roving reporter -- and one that the minions and I both love -- Murray Had a Little Lamb.

1 comment:

Not Jenny said...

Kermit the roving reporter is the best! When I think back to my favourite parts of Sesame Street, it is so, so hard to narrow it down. Heck, Buffy St Marie even taught Big Bird about breastfeeding!

Canadian SS was a bit different--we learned French instead of Spanish and there were bits about Aboriginal culture sprinkled in too.

It is a testament to the quality of the writing that it is still here today, 40 years later and still loved by those who watch it.