Yearning for childhood lost

I am a tad bit sentimental and I admit, I probably over-romanticize things at times, too.

Maybe that’s why I often like to remember the antics and tales of my childhood so much.

For the most part, it was a time of awe and wonder nestled between Twinkie clouds and Hostess cupcake dreams.

And there’s parts of our childhood that make us who we are and influence the adults we become, even if we don’t realize it at the time.

Mine was watching Mister Rogers.

Every evening as Granny made dinner, she usually sat me in front of the televisions with a snack of some kind. Sometimes, it was peanut butter and crackers; others, it was a bag of Bugles she had saved me from her lunch break.

She turned on Mister Rogers and hoped I would stay entertained long enough to not bother her while she cooked.

And it was enough to keep me in rapt entertainment, at least for that half hour.

I was pulled into this world where kindness mattered, where respect for everyone was given.

Where people spoke with gentle words and softer tones.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was sinking into the fabric of my soul.

The show was even enough to sooth the edges on my often loud, usually hot-tempered grandfather.

“PawPaw, who’s your favorite character?” I asked one day.

My grandfather looked at the screen thoughtfully. “I reckon I like that little tiger one the best. He seems like a neat little cat.”

My grandfather, this larger than life man, who worked in construction as a roofer and often came home covered in tar and when angered, could probably frighten the underworld, liked the shy, slightly fearful tiger. It was quite a contrast.

“Who’s your favorite?” he asked me.

“I like them all,” I said. “But I hope one day when I grow up, I marry someone like Mister Rogers. He seems to be nice to everyone.”
And to a little girl, that was very important.

See, I was a chubby kid, my mother was divorced – something that was not that common back then, and my father, who I never saw or talked to, was Iranian. There were a lot of little things that made me ‘different’ and not necessarily in a good way.

But I had the sanctity and safety of childhood.

Of being surrounded by people who loved me and having friends that cared about me regardless of the fact I made a horrible choice for dodgeball or any other team sport in the gym.

I grew up and somehow, the lessons I had learned from watching Mister Roger’s Neighborhood faded into the background.

It wasn’t until several years, when working in radio, my friend and morning show host mentioned it was the day that Fred Rogers had passed away.

“He died?” I asked.

I somehow had missed it a few years before and was saddened at the news.

“Yeah,” my friend said. “It hit me hard. Fred Rogers was a pretty cool guy.”

A cool guy.

I had never thought of Mister Rogers in that light before; to me, he had been soothing and comfort, a magical escape from a world that sometimes may not be quite as nice.

“You really should check out some of the stories on him,” my friend said. “Cole would really love him. There’s a book too that will really tell you how amazing of a person he was.”

“I will check it out,” I promised.

I didn’t have to. A few days later, in my mailbox was the book, I’m Proud of You, by Tim Madigan, and a few DVDs of Mister Rogers Neighborhood for Cole to watch.

I started the book that evening and was profoundly amazed at how the Fred Rogers on the show was exactly the way Fred Rogers was in real life.

Compassion, kindness, and empathy truly were his superpowers.

No wonder as a child I hid his lessons deep in my heart.

Over the years, especially the last few, I have been even more drawn to his wisdom. One of his quotes has been shared quite frequently: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I find myself looking for the helpers a lot lately. Wondering where they are, the people who somehow find ways to help those around them and give comfort, even when they are experiencing pain and trauma themselves.

But sometimes, that’s what we are supposed to do. Come together and help one another, simply because we are ‘neighbors’ and need each other.

I think of how his simple wisdom is more profound now and how in so many ways, my childhood was idyllic. I lived in a world where I didn’t understand fear, I didn’t have worries or concerns because life and the world I grew up in felt safe and secure.

Now, there’s children who will never know what that feels like.

Re-reading Fred Rogers’ words makes me see how timeless they were. And how we need them, desperately need them now.

Mister Rogers passed away 15 years ago on February 27, but thankfully, his kind, compassionate wisdom has left behind some gentle echoes.

The Grey’s Anatomy Effect (5/13/2015)

Let me start by warning you, there are a few spoilers in here in case you DVR’d “Grey’s Anatomy” this season and haven’t watched the episode from a few weeks ago yet.

Now that you’ve had a spoiler alert, let me tell you: McDreamy has been killed off.

I know. I am heartbroken, angry at Shonda Rimes, and wondering how Meredith will go on, too.

I am also wondering if they are going to pay Patrick Dempsey for the remainder of his contract-I think he had two years left.

I just started watching it on Netflix a few weeks ago, thinking it would be good background noise in the evening.

Normally, I don’t like hospital shows. But, my Netflix flavor profile is not exactly one of discerning tastes.

If anything, I am sure Netflix thinks I am a 14-year-old girl with my list ranging from anything with Sandra Bullock to the original “Star Trek.”

So there I was, thinking I wouldn’t get sucked in to “Grey’s.”

Boy, was I wrong.

I was all in and sitting in my chair, sobbing.

And McDreamy was still alive and adorable in these episodes.

“Why do you watch something you know is gonna make you do that?” Lamar asked, watching me as I wiped my nose on my sleeve.

A guy friend posed a similar question to me recently on Facebook.

Why do women bring that drama in their lives each week with a T.V. show?

We say we don’t want drama, then we grab a glass or two of wine and watch a show that delivers a solid hour of it.

And it’s usually something husbands have zero interest in watching because of the drama.

“It’s the Grey’s Anatomy effect,” my friend called it.

It’s completely unrealistic.

I mean, come on – even I admit that some things are a tad bit unrealistic.

The plane crash, for one. If that much stuff happened to the same staff after a while, I think people would go work at another hospital and someone would condemn the hospital for bad juju.

We see doctors marrying, divorcing, having affairs, having babies, being in car wrecks, and, then, when you think the season is safe- someone dies.

A character we love and think the show can’t go on without dies in a big blaze of dramatic glory.

“This is too sad,” Lamar commented after two minutes.

I sniffled and shushed him.

“Why do you watch this?”


Maybe there is something about seeing situations being resolved in a 60 minute program, where everything works out OK in the end.

Perhaps we like to see someone do something terrible to their arch nemesis and get away with it (I can think of a few I would like revenge on, but am scared it would backfire on me in real life).

Or maybe it is seeing people look pretty, even after they cried off their makeup; they still have on lipstick and look cute.

It’s neat, and nice and wrapped up around commercial breaks. And our own lives are not so neat and pretty sometimes.

Life is messy.

Real life drama can drag on for what feels like an eternity, and usually doesn’t have the happy outcomes television can offer. We know no matter how bleak it may look during May sweeps, something better will happen.

T.V. is scripted, so everyone says the right thing, to the right person, at the right time. There’s no fumbling for an appropriate comeback that displays the magnitude of your anger; it’s perfectly delivered, with no stuttering or spitting.

In real life, we are sitting there coming up with the wittiest reply only after a few days have passed.

In T.V. they may deal with crazy stuff, but you never see them waiting for someone to come fix the satellite; romance just happens and is spontaneous and well, romantic.

In real life, we don’t want the personal drama because who has time for it?

We have families, jobs, housework, pets that are more demanding than toddlers – who has time to deal with such silly stuff?

We tell folks we really don’t want to hear any gossip because we have too many of our own problems to deal with.

It does show us that everyone has problems – they may be different than our own, but they have them.

How they deal with them depends on the character; how it’s written, and how it’s played.

That part is a lot like real life. How we deal with our problems all boils down to our character and how we play our roles.

We really don’t want drama in our lives. It’s just nice to have a little escapism every now and then.

And looking at McDreamy didn’t hurt, either.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the e-published novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”