Mr. Rogers did it and WE do too!
As a child, I loved Mr. Rogers and learned many valuable lessons from a 30-minute television program 5 days per week. It dawned on me that through a virtual screen, I established a relationship with a person, whom I never even came in contact, but felt that he was someone endearing to me. Amazing.
As I work each day in front of a “camera,” at times, I catch a glimpse of a larger screen in which you view me. Isn’t that ironic? I never thought of myself as reaching out to my audience so to speak through a screen, but in fact, I am. We are connected, maybe even more so. With the PBS show, the likelihood of actually meeting Mr. Rogers was rare. We have the opportunity to be present with each other, to play and to experiences the realities of the challenge’s families face together.
Unlike Mr. Rogers, I am lucky to actually “see” you as I coach, share messages and we discover things together. My beloved on-screen teacher of years ago laid foundations of how this is done; perhaps to provide a heartfelt connection across space is somehow engrained in my memory.
We share smiles, warm hellos and meaningful departures.
We learn about “feelings” and uncover scary words like COVID-19 viruses and still see the world as safe with the love of family. We address odd sounding phrases like “social distancing” which leave children to believe the we must be apart, but we focus on being together. I encourage and coach moms and dads to persist even when the days are long and arduous.
Our time together is well spent and appreciated. The children see special visitors as they meet friendly colorful puppets, not “X the Owl” or “Daniel Tiger”, but bright orange smiling Hockey the Hippo or soft and snuggly Pajamas the Panda. We don’t have “Trolley” but we have a crimson Thomas Caboose. We enter the world of “Make Believe” across a virtual reality still filled with magic. There are lovely fairies that take flight dressed in peach chiffon gowns, knights who bravely battle with silvery swords and shields, princesses who search and go on a quest for evil doers with their golden illuminated scepters. There are transformations into polar bears, elephants exploring and tall giraffes eating leaves off the tops of trees during charades. Full -service meals are served from start to finish with clunky wooden food in remembrance of a family dinner at an “Eat N’ Park restaurant” and teenage dollies who are fearful when a loved one unexpectedly catches a virus and then, with great relief recovers.
We sketch pictures of cherished furry friends, play Pictionary or Hang Man with silly scribbles or words, and color abstract art on chalkboards of vibrant colors. We find each other playing hide n’ seek, searching in cabinets and closets and soft safe places. We gather ingredients, sample a taste of batter and we bake gigantic chocolate chip cookies in golden sunshiny kitchens. We work through upsets when the ice-cream truck drives down the street playing melodic tones beckoning for youngsters and well, “It’s not time for popsicles.” We sing joyful jingles and familiar tunes like “The More We Get Together” and “Shake My Sillies Out.” We swing and slide on outdoor swing sets, play-hop scotch and soccer. We construct whatever your hearts imagine. A brown cardboard box becomes a “box car” for an amusing ride or a time-machine to travel into the future with robots or the past as we encounter T-rex. Our adventures carry on.
In some ways, we even have “Picture, Picture” as we discover, on my small iPhone screen or yours, about the latest trends in space exploration and rocket ships, how to dance on an elevator, construct dirt bike trails out of bricks and read and giggle at antics in comic books.
YOU are creative! How rich our time is together!
Our ETC neighborhood is not so different. In tele-health while separated in space, we are making the connection much like Mr. Rogers did with me years ago. Lessons are imparted and reflected upon, a sense of accomplishment and joy is experienced and most of all, relationships continue to grow.
“Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Author: Stacy Sue Rosello, MA, OTR/L
Founder, Embrace the Child, ® Ltd.
Editor: Grace Rosello, BA
Copyright © 2020 Stacy Sue Rosello