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Can you tell me how to get, how to get far from Sesame Street?

June 18, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Do children ever get to just be children anymore?

I’m not lamenting the undeniable absence of kids riding bicycles or throwing footballs or playing in sandboxes because video systems keep them indoors and away from strangers/germs/dirt/flesh-eating spiders. That’s a topic for another time.

I’m talking about that time in front of the TV they get to spend while Mom or Dad cooks dinner and cleans up after bringing Junior home from daycare. Hopefully, that time is not spent watching what were adult, after 10 p.m. shows when first run that now air as cable marathons in the after school time slot. (Yes, I’m referring to “SVU” and its ilk. What does a six-year-old need unfettered access to ripped from the headlines sex crime drama anyway? And I know every word of most SVU episodes.) I’m referring specifically to, “Sesame Street,” the show with those darling Muppets that teach the alphabet and math and reading and phonics and maybe toss in a lesson or two about how to share and be nice. My kids watched a bit of it in their little-folks days.

People apparently want social programming on “Sesame Street” and the Children’s Television Workshop (which must employ Charlie Rose because only a child would buy the Obama-NSA interview) is giving it to them.

Let’s see. There was a petition a few years ago that wanted Ernie and Bert to come out of the Muppet closet and tie the knot. (I never, EVER, wasted a moment thinking about those two being gay until that came up. They’re Muppets, fer cryin’ out loud!)

There was the whole issue of Snuffy’s parents getting divorced. (Again, Muppets! Fer cryin' out loud!)

And now, we have new Muppet Alex with his dad doing time in Rikers Island. Maybe if he breaks out, he’ll ask someone to tell him how to get, how to get to Sesame Street. At least the new Muppet is only on-line, so parents have some control over whether they want their child to tackle this meaty topic.

I get it. I get that it’s a tough thing for a kid with parents in jail, though I wonder how tough in a world where shame was relegated to the back of the discount shelf about the time Bill Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky, and half of all kids have what were called "broken homes" in my so politically incorrect youth.

I do think kindergartners and first graders and the Sesame Street age group ought to be able to have an hour a day without dealing with the adult world for awhile. Maybe that’s best for the kid with the parent in jail. Maybe it’s not. Maybe parents acting right and not ending up in jail is the really best answer, but I dream too big.

Or go all the way and turn Cookie Monster into a meth-head, and he’s upset because Alex’s daddy was his supplier and now Cookie needs a fix. And have Cookie go looking for a couple rocks that were thrown into Oscar’s garbage can by Big Bird as he was running from the cops one night on Sesame Street and he needed to ditch the evidence.

Or just turn off the damned TV and computer and get them outside in that sandbox.


And spend time with them and pay attention to them around other kids and make sure they’re being nice and sharing. And start singing the darned alphabet song to them when they’re in the womb.

That way, you really control the socialization.


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