The Church of Daniel Tiger

Little Miss Sunshine has a new show she follows. It’s called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Those who are old, like me, may remember Daniel Tiger from the children’s classic TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He was a rather ugly tiger puppet in a red hoodie who chit-chatted with the big guy on occasion, usually just before Trolley arrived (“ching-ching!”) to head off into the imagination land area. There was a cat puppet, too, Katarina (“what are we doing today, meow meow?”).

Now Daniel and Katarina and many of the other people from the show (but not Fred Rodgers himself, because this isn’t a show about zombies) have their own animated cartoon on PBS and it’s really, really adorable. I was never a fan of the original Mr. Rogers, and I realize that is TOTAL SACRILEGE, but I found his show slow, and boring, and the way he talked directly into the camera kind of freaked me out, to be frank. My older sister would watch it occasionally and I would go off and read a Nancy Drew book and sniff at how uncivilized and uncultured she was.

Anyway! The new show is cute, and features Trolley prominently, and even though I hated the original show I always kind of choke up when Trolley goes “ching-ching” because that sound, I don’t know, it is so ingrained in my head as being tied to my youth, my really really young youth, it puts some sort of nostalgic glow over the whole earth and brings a tear to my eye. I know, it makes no sense, but there you have it.

My real point here is that the new show has these little Life Lesson Songs in each episode. These Life Lesson Songs are meant to teach kids a single important lesson. And they are like crack to the Little Miss – they have become her mantras, her bible, her go-to phrases for every conceivable situation.

For example, if I thank her for doing something helpful, she might break out with, “Friends help each other, yes they do, it’s true.” Or when I tell the kids they have to take turns, there’s this little ditty: “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” Or, any time she is making one of a thousand coloring pages she makes every day, “Making something is one way to say ‘I love you’.” (Thanks for that one, Daniel Tiger – our walls are collapsing under the weight of artwork, eek.)

(You can listen to a clip of that last one here, and now I have just learned that MP3s of these tunes can be purchased, so it’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, INDEED.)

(Not a sponsored link, by the way. I’m way too lazy to figure that crap out.)

I personally love this one, for new situations – “When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do.”

This one is popular with all the kids, especially the Captain, because 10-years-old is definitely for sure not too old for potty humour. He busts it out every time he’s off to the bathroom.

Despite pulling out a Daniel-Tigerism for most situations, the Little Miss does get pretty peeved when we bust out this one at dinnertime (“You gotta try a new food ’cause it might taste good!”). It’s apparently one part of the cannon that she chooses to take as merely a suggestion. Sorry, Daniel.

We could definitely do way, way worse than to have a kid that lives her life According to Daniel Tiger (ooh, new blog idea: What Would Daniel Tiger Do?). So I’m happy to embrace the new mantras – ching-ching.

5 thoughts on “The Church of Daniel Tiger

  1. This is such a good reminder of how much kids LISTEN (even though sometimes we think they don’t) and how much stuff around them influences them. I think my kids listen to WAY too much CBC radio and I often wince when certain stories come on the news. Then again, they do know who the Governor General, Leader of the Opposition, etc. are and can name more than one Senator. I suspect many adults can’t do the same.

    Re: the food thing. When my older son was six she told him he had to try a new food every week and HE DID IT. I was so surprised. She didn’t say it in a magical or persuasive way – just said it – and he did it … why? Maybe because she’s a doctor? Or maybe just because she wasn’t me?

    It’s amazing what kids will do when people other than their parents tell them to do it!

  2. CapnPlanet

    OK, a few things:

    – I loved the post, and the little mantras are awesome. Then (begin rant) I listened to one of the clips, and realized that they’re set to music — really crappy music. I won’t pretend to hide the fact that I’m a music snob, and that extends to kids’ music too. So many people who write kids music seem to believe that it’s somehow easier than writing for adults, but they’re wrong, and then I have to listen to crap they write – bleah. (end rant) As an antidote, for example, take a listen to any of the music the Sherman brothers did for Disney – classic stuff that kids can relate to, but still musically wonderful.
    – Ahem, did Daniel go to the bathroom and then leave the seat up? That is not acceptable in our household. I’m beginning to be worried about the message this show is sending.
    – Seriously? A recording of the show playing on a TV? What am I, a farmer?

    OK, after all that negativity, I’ll reiterate that I really love the mantras and I would be charmed to death if I heard my own kids saying them. Bravo Little Miss! (And, I can totally see a 10-year-old singing “sitting on the potty, sitting on the potty”. Hilarious!)

  3. V just started watching that show (after Cat in the Hat, then Sid the Science Kid, then Busytown) and I hate to admit it, but I cannot stand the songs on that show. I have never seen it although others have complained of it on other shows that she’s watched, but that half hour? Like nails on a chalkboard…good thing its not for me I guess *g*

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