Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street!

Sesame Street turns 40 today. And I can only hope that, someday, any of my 40 years (and counting) on this planet will have been able to touch even one person as deeply as Sesame Street has touched me and our kids and so many countless others in its first 40 years (and counting) on this planet.

I remember watching Sesame Street when I was growing up, and it influenced much in my life. (In fact, Kermit the Frog is singularly responsible for the beginning of my lifelong love for and collection of frogs.) But Sesame Street had never entwined itself fully around my heart until the many days I spent watching it with both of my kiddos when they were teeny little things.

I remember Lovely Girl sitting spellbound whenever she heard or saw someone sing, I'd Like to Visit the Moon. Her toddler self shortened that title to "Moon Song." And she loved the "Moon Song" from the moment she heard it on Sesame Street. That first night, at bedtime, after we cuddled together in the rocking chair to read some of her favorite books, she snuggled down further in my lap and, with thumb firmly planted in her mouth, she demanded, "Moon Song!"

Talk about mild panic. It took some digging - and some major frustration on Lovely Girl's part - but I finally managed to figure out what she was talking about, and to remember the chorus, and that seemed to satisfy her. But when she asked for it again the next night, and the next, and the next, I realized I had better learn all the words to that song.

So I did. I went online, and I searched and searched until I found the entire lyrics. Then I printed them out, and I practiced. (Mind you, I am not a fantastic singer, nor am I a born performer, and I would not sing for you now if you paid me. But there is nothing I would not do for my kiddos.) By bedtime that night, I was ready, and I sang the "Moon Song" for her, and she wiggled contentedly until she found just the right spot to settle in. Then as soon as I finished singing, she asked for it again. And again. Over and over we did this, and each time her request was just a bit sleepier than the last, until finally her breathing deepened, and her head drooped, and her wrinkled thumb quietly slipped from her mouth. The "Moon Song" remained Lovely Girl's bedtime staple for years after that, and was the only song anyone could sing that would calm her down when she was upset.

Then along came Handsome Boy. And whatever Lovely Girl did, Handsome Boy wanted to do too, including watching Sesame Street. Though he was a busy little guy who would frequently wander away during the show to play with his toys, I remember the lightning speed he summoned as he barreled back to the TV whenever he heard the first strains of Elmo's World warble out of the speakers. Then he would plop down right in front of the TV (and I mean right in front - I was always scootching his little self back to a more respectable viewing distance), with his eyes glued to the screen. He would throw his head back and sing, "La-LA, la-LA! La-LA, la-LA! ELmo's WORRRRRLD," at the top of his tiny lungs. Not one to ever sit still for long, throughout that whole segment he would laugh and sing and dance and grab my face and point it back at the screen if I ever looked away, to be sure I saw it, too.

Learning from Lovely Girl's frustration at my lack of lyric knowledge, I paid better attention this time, and learned all the words to Elmo's World - straight from the Muppet's mouth. And just like Lovely Girl's "Moon Song," singing Elmo's World was not relegated merely to whenever we watched Sesame Street. Though it was not Handsome Boy's bedtime song of choice (that honor was reserved for Dumbo's Baby Mine), we did sing Elmo's World practically everywhere else. Loudly. We sang Elmo's World in the car. We sang Elmo's World while playing outside. We sang Elmo's World in the grocery store. We sang Elmo's World at the doctor's office. We even sang Elmo's World at the library - all the while studiously avoiding the rather annoyed gazes of the library's other patrons.

I will never forget those times with my kiddos as long as I live.

From Frogs to Moons to Furry Red Monsters...

...thank you, Sesame Street.


  1. I watched it when it was brand-new, with my little nephews, and later on with newer nieces and nephews. I haven't seen it in years, but I'm glad it's still going strong.

    The Muppet Christmas Carol is our favorite Christmas movie.

  2. Muppet Christmas Carol is our fave Christmas movie too! And we love the Muppet movie with the pirate theme (can't think of the title...)

  3. Your insights about Sesame Street are so apt. So many adults came to love Sesame Street through watching it with their kiddies.


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