Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the seeds we plant

The Sunday New York Times featured Sesame Street; it's turning 40 today. At this time, 40 years ago, I was a late second trimester lump, as yet to have emerged. And, as the Times pointed out, the issues of the day in late 1969 (rainbow Muppet's showing how we are all the same on the inside, and can get along in urban settings) have moved on. But does the show remain dedicated to social change? I think they who make it, would say yes. And, if so, who better to show change ("CHANGE" was the slogan after all) than Michelle Obama--today's guest.

Yes, I tuned in. I'm about to turn 40 too. Maybe Grover would help me cope?

First Lady Obama's message was, as promised by the Times, healthy eating. A kind of toddler locovore advocacy. Plant seeds in kids, so they'll plant seeds and eat healthily. Message received.

My children, Tom 5 and Ivy 3, watched along. But the show, over all, didn't hold them. It was too frenetic. Big bird thinking of leaving the Street at the beginning was grossly unearned sentiment. Then, the segments kept changing and not returning to the actual Street. Ivy walked away during Abby Caddaby's flying school sequence. I'm thinking not a good sign. Tom hung in there, but only because he could tell I was actually watching the TV with him, as opposed to snuggling with him while mostly reading a book or newspaper off to the side. There was a letter of the day for a split second: "H". And the number, obviously, was 40. A vexing, or abstract, one for everyone in my living room. As it ended, I was left with a feeling disjointedness and mild confusion. There was no overarching story arc. I guess I know why, although I grew up on it, my kids don't ask to watch it.

Maybe our world is a more tolerant place 40 years on. But, if Sesame Street feels it must act as if it has ADHA to compete and be "relevant" no wonder too many of our children are obese--and are facing diabetes diagnosis. No wonder they eat, and are being fed, so much, and badly. Sweet and fattening food, sensual and tactile, a piece of personal comfort to offset our distorting and alienating world. Okay, Michelle made it; but we've lost something too. Slowness, for a start. So, as a tonic, after 40 years, the answer is to tell our kids to go plant seeds? I wonder what Kermit would have sung for us, what feelings of self-worth, safety, connection, predictability, and love he'd have offered to help? He planted some deep seeds back in his day.

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