By Kylen Glassmann
If you read our last blog, written by Amanda, you have a clear image of Friday mornings at All Seasons Preschool, and the excitement that comes with “popcorn day!” Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane (for many of us, anyway). Picture yourself coming home from school, probably exhausted from the day and all its challenges. You plop down on the couch and turn on the T.V., excited to see his familiar face, his cozy sweaters, and the iconic red trolley headed to the “Neighborhood of Make-Believe.” You snuggle in and wait for another adventure as he welcomes you to the neighborhood and makes you feel safe, calm, and loved. That’s right, I’m talking about none-other than Fred Rogers and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
If you’re like me, these are among your most treasured memories from childhood – maybe it was an after school tradition or something you did when you were home from school, sick on the couch. No matter the occasion, I could not wait for the next episode. There is something so personal about “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the way it approaches childhood. It is one of the most unique shows that I have ever seen, and it has been beyond wonderful to witness our young students and beloved seniors join the “neighborhood” together, as we watch episodes as part of our Friday morning popcorn tradition.
What about this show is so extraordinary? Maybe it is its simplicity: there is nothing overstimulating or fast-paced about it. It is just a person, his neighbors, and their imaginations. They live in a space where all feel safe and learn from each other. Perhaps it’s the fact that Fred Rogers had a platform to sit in front of children (and adults!) and tell them things like, “It’s okay to feel disappointed.”
It may be all of those things, but it may also be that we recognize that we are part of such a neighborhood ourselves.It’s because Grandma Ruth, who could barely walk herself to a chair one Friday morning, saw Mr. Rogers, and came to life. “I’m going to try that!” she said excitedly, as we watched him make spaghetti using a pasta maker. It’s because Grandma Lou, who often babbles incoherently, looked at one of the aids and said, “He’s talking to me!” when Mr. Rogers sang his welcome song. It’s because all of us teachers watch, with tears in the our eyes, as the children ignore their cups full of popcorn and watch, wide-eyed, as Mr. Rogers tells them to be brave. It’s extraordinary because, as an adult, I still watch the show and feel safe, calm, and cared for. These are the reasons why “The Neighborhood of Make-Believe” continues to fill a special place in my heart – Mr. Rogers transcends time with his gentle presence and accepting messages and reaches all audiences.
So now, as you picture our Friday morning popcorn tradition, imagine children, teachers, and seniors, learning and growing together, all part of our own “neighborhood.” Any with that, I’d like to say, from the words of Fred Rogers himself…
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?