Raised on PBS and Little Debbie . . . Part 2
For most of my children’s lives, we didn’t have cable. Instead, we had the $8.99 special. We could receive local stations, PBS, and a few superstations. That was it – period. No, Disney. No, Cartoon Network. No, Animal Planet. No, Nickelodeon. We didn’t feel deprived or missing anything. As stated yesterday, we were raising a second generation of American kiddos who learned their ABC’s and numbers with educational programming.
Our love of educational programming continued even when we visited completely “caffeinated” television hot-spots like hotels or Grandma’s house. The viewing mantra became, “If it ain’t PBS, you ain’t watching it.” The “ain’t was used for emphasis and humor, but our kids got it. That mantra became our family’s viewing guide.
The decision not to pursue cable had more to do with our desire to shield our children from unsuitable viewing and less to do with the financial savings of avoiding “bundling”. I will admit that viewing any television was pretty slim pickings during the Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008 with our limited channel options. But at least, PBS was still going strong.
It was during this same period of limited viewing that my first encounter with questioning PBS content occurred. (My heart did flitter-flutters as my mind was reciting, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”) That particular year we had a 7th grader and a 3 year old. On one cold late start morning, we were watching our beloved Sesame Street.
To give the setting, a few weeks prior our 7th grader had a spelling packet with plurals of words like sisters-in-law and sergeants-at-arms. Again, it was not to my liking as Elmo stole most of the show, when on came Mr. Noodle and the other Mr. Noodle, (Mr. Noodle’s brother). As Elmo was trying to convince the brothers of some thing or another, he kept referring to them as Mr. Noodles. Did my ears perceive that small, but ever so slight incorrect placement of plurals? I immediately pointed out the inaccuracy (it should be the Misters Noodle) to my 7th grade scholar. I just dropped a knowledge bomb up in here that was received with nothing more than a shoulder shrug and an eye-roll.
Oh no! My childhood favorite is giving incorrect grammar to millions of children. Whatever shall we do? In reality, we did nothing . . . except my pointing it out every two years when that same spelling packet came home with the next two children in line in our household. Again, the morsel of knowledge was met with uncharacteristic nonchalance by my other scholars, followed by an emphatic, “No!! I am not going to tell my Language Arts teacher about this, and neither are you!”
Well, I have one more student that may take up the crusade, but I have a few more years to drum up some support among my brood. But in reality, she will probably fall in ranks with the others – proclaiming, “Let it go, Mom, because it is still a sunny day on Sesame Street”.
And thank goodness, they are right!