If Childhood Were Perfect We Wouldn't Need Mister Rogers

Growing up can be rough. I remember it quite clearly. And if I ever forget, I have a child whose experiences remind me. 

One tough thing about being a kid is parents. They have bad days. They make mistakes. And for many of them—many of us—it's simply not okay to be seen as less than perfect by our children.

For a brief while, our kids think we have all the answers. We like to think that too. So we play along, adopting the stance of omniscient omnipotence. Then reality whomps us upside the head.

Some things are simply beyond the scope of parents to fix, or even to explain. Parenting is hard because life is hard.

When I was young and feeling confused (I might just say "when I was young") I sought refuge in the magical world of television. Yes, there was escapism, but there was also this guy:  

Fred Rogers was a TV producer, a songwriter and musician, and most important, he was a friend to children. He tackled the tough issues that trouble us all, young and old. 

I'm tempted to say he didn't sugar-coat the truth, but in fact I think that's what he did best. He took unpleasant facts about divorce, disease, anger and uncertainty and he wrapped them up in sweet words, soothing songs and an open, honest smile.

Here's one of his truths:

"Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we aren't perfect."

I'm not arrogant enough to put Readeez in a class with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Maybe twenty years from now that kind of assessment will be possible. I can say that with Readeez I'm aiming for the kind of comforting presence Fred McFeely Rogers brought into my home.

I'll close with one more quotation from Mister Rogers, then a couple of Readeez.

"It's not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It's the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff."

By the way, when I sing "I believe in you, little song," what I'm really saying is "I believe in myself, my work and my ability to get the job done."