Mom asked me if I had heard the news. Of course I had heard the
news. I was just hoping that she hadn't heard the news, because I
really didn't want to talk about it.
In case you haven't
heard: Season One and Two of "Sesame Street," which aired in the early
70s, is now available on DVD – except, it's been deemed unacceptable
for preschool children. That's right: Adults only Muppets.
the censors had second thoughts about exposing toddlers to
misanthropes, over-eaters with weird junky-like tendencies, closeted
couples and 7-foot-tall talking birds who hallucinate about hairy,
earless elephants. Go figure.
Today's "Sesame Street," of which
I'm a regular viewer, stands in sharp contrast to the dingy, chaotic
(and infinitely more interesting) 'hood of my youth. I'm fairly strict
about TV viewing in my home, and so Zev only sees the new, improved
show about once a month. As for the "Seasame Street" I grew up on,
he'll have to wait until he's old enough to watch it on YouTube.
But I didn't really want to get into this with Mom.
yet, there I was. Aghast at the "Adults Only" rating on the old
episodes, Mom wanted to know my opinion. And she was not going to stop
asking until I gave it to her.
"They don't want kids to watch it because Cookie Monster eats cookies? How stupid is that?" Mom asked.
Pretty stupid, I guess. But that's not really what she wanted to know.
discomfort grandparents face in the light of that censors' sticker has
nothing to do with nostalgia or their loyalty to children's
programming. It's about them. And all the ways they profoundly mess us
Because, let's face it, it's not just that our parents
exposed us to one guy who ate cookies all day and another who lived in
a trashcan. It's that these guys – monsters by their own admission –
were called upon to babysit the vast majority of us in those glorious
latchkey times. And now, with our minds molded and personality
(disorders) permanently cemented, our parents are left wondering, "What
was I thinking?"
By some miracle, we have lived long enough to
have survived schoolyard taunts, teenage driving, teenage drinking,
college, early careers and – for some of us – parts of parenthood. And
now, our own parents are looking at the stressed-out, Prozac-popping,
ideologically confused lot of us, and they're trying to figure out what
they did wrong.
I went back to work too soon…. Not soon enough… I didn't pay enough attention to that detail…. I harped on this one….
kick in the gut of review-mirror parenting is a joy I have yet to
experience, but I can only image how many sleepless nights it will
So when some faceless censor tells Mom that today's
parents should know better than to hand over their kids to furry role
models with bad habits (Cookie Monster smokes – and then eats – a pipe
in one regular segment), I'm sure it has to sting a bit.
microwaving our food in melty Tupperware was probably not the best
move. Ditto, handing us Easy-Bake ovens (Ovens! As toys!). And maybe
some of our "children's shows" could have been saved for later years.
(Bambi's mom dies. That was the only thing I remember about my first
movie. Man, that was harsh.)
But if it's any consolation to Mom
and the other grandparents out there, I'm sure all that pales in
comparison to the myriad ways in which we are certainly messing up our
The evidence is already starting to mount: When
Aqua Dots were pulled off the shelf last month, we learned we were
lacing our kids with date rape drugs in their tainted toys. Take that,
Our kids are fatter and
more socially awkward than yours were. They are also more entitled and
less critical. Oh, and their parents spend countless hours (and
newspaper column inches) describing all of their current and predicted
shortcomings. So, really, it'll be a wonder if any of them make it to
adulthood without being virtually arrested for carpet bombing Second
Life cities or joining Chinese Lead Paint cults.
But, to answer
your question, Mom. Yes, I heard the news. And, yes, it makes sense to
me to keep Zev and his pals off the pre-Elmo "Seasame Street." But, no,
you weren't a bad mom. You done great. See? I made it. With nary a
single Easy Bake oven burn scar to show for it.
This column was brought to you today by the letters "O," and "K."