Monday, July 23, 2007

A Reprieve for Mr. Rogers?

On the continuing saga of Mr. Rogers...

Jeff Zaslow, columnist at the Wall Street Journal, said he, "got slammed with e-mails", for trashing Mr. Rogers last week. So he decided to look again at Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Zaslow and Emily Meehan, Act One Columnist at WSJ, discuss the situation...

Ms. Meehan (age 27) argues that: "Mr. Rogers was invented by baby boomers for their own children who, when they meet other boomers just like themselves, they don't like each other." (no mystery there...)

Says Zaslow, "These kids want to start at the top, obviously. I've heard that a lot from employers, saying they want to start at the top - these kids come in and they never want to start at low-level entry jobs".

[So, does everybody in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood want to be the hero, never accepting a supporting role? If pee wee soccer, baseball parents are any indication, it is more likely the parents, rather than the children who want that for their kids.]

Zaslow asks, "So do we blame Mr. Rogers?"

Says Meehan, "Poor Mr. Rogers. I think he had such good intentions..." So she gives a thumbs-up for Mr. Rogers.

Zaslow comments that: When the TV's turned off, the parents continue to tell their kids, 'You're so special, Honey'. Which is what I suggested in my post. It's the parents who got sucked into the "oh, you're so special, my little darling". I guess maybe the boomer parents were listening to 'The Neighborhood' a little too closely. [Good intentions strike again.]

Looking at the bigger picture, I suspect that the hidden force at play here is simply, What Is Mine, 'my child', to the exclusion of all other children. "MY CHILD IS AN HONOR STUDENT AT BLAH, BLAH SCHOOL' - Yea. When you look at all children as your own, that claim disappears. Children are not 'mine', anyway. They are born to you, are nurtured, sojourn with you for awhile, learn from you what they can, then they move on out to take their rightful place in the world, as a child of God. They belong to God, not you.

So, does poor Mr Rogers, who "had such good intentions", get a reprieve? If so, was it was the parents who did the actual false inflating of egos? Which goes back to my original statement: kids know when they win and when they fail. The "you're all winners" meme is just so much sop to them. They know better, but when their own permissive parents coddle them, protect them from the harsh reality of life, and continue to give in to their whims, then yeah, they probably will turn out to be unrealistically expectant of the real world. Not doing them any favors, either.

Am I going to apologize to Mr. Rogers? No. He's dead, anyway. Although one could argue that he was simply the product of the permissive era of the "Meet my son Tony, 'Mr. Wonderful'" mentality. It is wrong-headed ideas that do the damage. Good intentions often go wrong.

This is not news. But it does suggest we had better be very careful about what ideas, and images, we expose our children to. What is happening today in our schools is a recipe for disaster. Mr. Roger's influence will seem very mild by comparison.

And that concludes the Mr. Rogers 'controversy'. I promise. I'm sick of it already. We have a whole world tilting, and the boomer kids (all grown up now) can kiss my ass.