Thursday, January 22, 2009
He liked you just the way you are.
Some of you already know how I feel concerning the late childrens television host, Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mister Rogers. If not, please see this piece.
I believe that another story about Fred Rogers is instructive concerning how great an impact he might have on a child. From my dear blogging friend, John-Michael, came this, in response to my piece:
I was shaving one morning, in preparation for the commencement of the day's 'stuff', and heard Matt (my son who has cerebral palsy) talking with someone. Now, Jim, you should understand that I had run the gauntlet of specialists, therapists, teachers, and doctors in an attempt to discover a way to open Matt to expression of himself so that I could 'plug in' to him 'where he was' in mental ability and cognitive awareness. No luck!
So, on this occasion, I was intrigued as to what or who was evoking such deliberate and direct conversation from Matt (inasmuch as it was just him and me at home.) So, around the corner I peeked. And there Matt sat ... inches away from the TV ... listening to Mister Rogers' questions (in that slow, patient, deliberate, gentle way of his) ... and having been given the time to process each question ... and being looked directly at with eyes that bespoke respect and interest in just him out of all of the whole wide world ... Matt responded.
From that moment on, I was the only person in Matt's world with whom he was comfortable communicating on an intimate, vulnerable and sensitive level.
I have loved Fred Rogers since (and am adding his image to my blog's "Gallery of Significants.)
A few months back, my local PBS station stopped running episodes of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I wrote to them, asking that they resume airing the show. They did not.
At that time, I thought that the decision was strictly local. Now, I have learned - perhaps a bit late - that PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service in America) had decided to take the show completely off of it's national syndication schedule. It is still offered to local stations, for airing in open local time slots, but these are often available during times when children will not be likely to see it. Many stations that DO still air the show have reduced the show's place on the schedule to once a week, usually very early on a Saturday or Sunday morning; perhaps 5 or 6 AM.
I learned all of this at a website, begun by a Pittsburgh native (hometown of WQED, where Fred first worked in public television), that gives me (and you?) an outlet for my (our?) dissatisfaction concerning PBS's decision to not offer the show on national syndication.
Save Mister Rogers Neighborhood!
If Mister Rogers was a positive force in your life, as he was in mine - or if he is a trusted television friend to your children - would you please visit that website? And would you please do me a personal favor, by doing one of the things suggested there? If you do, you'll have my karmic I.O.U., and I'll gladly return the favor someday for a cause you care about deeply.
Thank you, neighbor.