My daughter and I were watching Sesame Street together today. This show, after 40 years, remains far and away my favorite kids show. I loved it when I was a kid, and I actually enjoy watching it with my daughter now.
My strongest memory from the Street as a kid was when the grownups finally saw Snuffy. I felt so bad for Big Bird for years as no one took him seriously. He knew that snuffleupagus was real. I knew he was real, and I felt Big Bird’s pain when no one believed him. Today my daughter and I watched as Big Bird decided he was going to migrate to the rain forest. As he was walking down the street, he started saying goodbye to everyone. All of his friends were shocked that he was leaving, but he decided that the rain forest would be the perfect place for him to live. As the “goodbyes” continued, I felt myself getting a little sad. Saying goodbye to Big Bird is like saying goodbye to a longtime friend. Wondering if this was effecting Ellie like it was effecting me, I called her name. She turned around, and the tears were streaked down her face. I called her to me, and she crawled up on my lap. “Are you sad?” I asked her. “No,” she said through her tears. “It will be okay,” she said and forced out a chuckle that sounded a lot like a sob.In the end Big Bird decided to stay. He decided that the rain forest would be a neat place to visit, but he hadn’t realized that moving there would mean he couldn’t have playdates with Elmo, or have Cream of Birdseed soup at Hoopers whenever he wanted. When he announced that he would stay, Ellie burried her head in my chest and gave me a huge hug. Her hug left a wet spot on my shirt. I doubt that episode will be Ellie’s lasting memory of Sesame Street, but so many have one (the death of Mr. Hooper, the marriage of Luis and Maria are a couple – I’d love to hear yours). For forty years Sesame Street has educated kids about numbers, letters, friendship, vocabulary, shapes, and many other things while never talking down to them. It has been entertaining and, with the possible exception of Elmo’s World, never annoying. It is a show I loved when I was little, and a show I continue to love as an adult. Happy Birthday Sesame Street. Share with me your memories – favorite characters – favorite sketches – favorite songs.