What is pain to a child? It is foreign and unknown. It is unpleasant, uncomfortable and most of all Not Right. Children know hurt and when that hurt is foreign and unknown what does a child’s brain do with unknown foreign hurt; it buries it. Our brains are very much like computers the information is there, but the connection is lost because the material (information) was unknown.
As we grow so too does our brains gathering information second by second day by day. What we put in as food (information/material) is as important as how it’s processed. If the information can’t be processed at the time of ingestion, then it’s stored or buried for later retrieval. Having said all that.
I watched a docuseries on HBO the other day regarding Fred Rogers. If you’re unfamiliar with Fred Rogers perhaps you knew the name of his long running public television series, “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. Growing up I was one of many children that watched his program because it spoke to me. As an adult I understand why his program spoke to me when other children’s programs didn’t. Or on rare occasions when spending time with other children my age our choice of programs differed to a degree that it was understood by me as a child. A childhood friend enjoyed the antics of Pink Panther cartoon. Pink Panther never appealed to me because it was silent. The actions in the cartoon offered little to no explanation to the actions that occurred therefore leaving it confusing for me to enjoy. It took me longer to process the humor. Pianos falling and slap stick were lost on me, I didn’t understand why it was funny.
Fred Rogers was a tall, thin and not what some would consider good looking or handsome man. He rather reminded me of Ichabod Crane in physical description. But I took the time to describe him because he was mocked a lot for his soft-spoken nature and appearance but to children who were different or stood out at recess in school we could relate and understand him because he understood children.
The world has never been safe for children, children are an after thought in this society and a program like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was a soft, quiet place to be in a world that can forget about its new computers/children. His program offered a safe visual place, along with an adult that didn’t talk to children like idiots. Fred Rogers offered explanations that we understood. From war, race relations to Superman he provided a place of answers to real questions.
Fred Rogers was an ordained minister, but his show didn’t push religion instead he reached millions of viewers with care and patients. He was who he was whether talking to a five-year-old or 65-year-old. There was no pretense with Mr. Rogers what you saw is what you got and to a child who couldn’t read people he was appreciated. Were you a Neighborhood kid? What educational programs are there now that could compare?
I’d be interested to know some of your favorite childhood programs and why. Let me know in the comment section.