Last night as I was walking out of a restaurant with my husband, I looked at the “Now Showing” poster at our local movie theater and stopped dead in my tracks. In fact, I may have screamed loud enough to startle the sweet couple that was passing by. My childhood hero Mr. Rogers, was staring back at me beckoning me to drop everything to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Knowing what a huge fan I was of Fred Rogers, my sweet husband says without hestitation, "it starts in 20 minutes, let's watch it!" It didn't take more than the opening segment for the tears to start rolling, and for the memories to come flooding back. You see, Mr. Rogers was a huge part of my childhood. Over the years I've tried to articulate to people why and I've never been able to adequately put into words the difference this public television show made on my life. When I sat in front of the television each day as a child, it was as if Mr. Rogers stepped through the screen and spoke directly to my highly sensitive Tisha heart making me understand that my feelings mattered and that I was special, just as I was. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t face to face with his television audience, his genuine love for children was evident; he was the ultimate “kid connector”. The topics he discussed were real and difficult, and delivered in a way that children could process them, and feel normal and valued for the feelings that they were experiencing. He understood the emotions of a child and the importance of curiosity, play, and make-believe in a child's development.
My mom loved Mr. Rogers too, and would often sing songs from the show to me at night. The one song that holds special value to me is "It's You I Like".
It's you I like
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair,
but it's you I like.
The way you are right now.
The way down deep inside you,
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys, they're just beside you.
But it's you I like, every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself, it's you,
I’m fortunate I came from a home where those words were sung and spoken to me often, yet so many live in homes where they don’t know that their feelings matter or that they are special just the way they are. There are a multitude of lessons I’ve learned from Mr. Rogers that I’ve carried into adulthood, but the lesson that stands out above all else is….love people. Whether you lead kids or adults, help them feel valued and that their feelings matter. Take time to build relationships. Listen...really listen. Show gratitude and appreciation. Be kind. We all want to be liked and to feel loved.
This connected world we live in is amazing, but sometimes we get lost. We compare and think that who we are isn’t good enough, or special enough. Watching the story of Mr. Rogers was a beautiful reminder to love each other and recognize the unique and special qualities in the people we care for. Thank you Mr. Rogers for making a difference in this little girl’s life and so many others from around the world. You left an incredible legacy and I will be forever grateful.
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning magical for students. Love to gamify!