I’m not often a fan of writing prompts and memes. It’s not that I’m too good for them (yeah, Mom101 you beyatch), it’s just that I just have too much crazy schizophrenic chatter inside my head at all times that needs to come out or else; let alone taking the time to write on someone else’s crazy schizophrenic chatter. My head would surely explode into tiny bits, and what with Nate doing all the cleaning these days, that just wouldn’t be fair to him.
But when the Lovely Mrs. Davis asked her loyal, pop culture-savvy readers:
What television, music, movie or book from your childhood are you excited about sharing with your own children?
I had to heed the call. Hey, it’s in honor of the anniversary of Sesame Street. Sesame Street! If you can’t honor the place where the air is sweet and everything’s A-okay, you have no soul.
The first thing that came to mind was the soundtrack to Free to Be You and Me, hands down. It was the first CD I bought when I was pregnant, and then, when it somehow disappeared, I went and bought it again. I wanted to make sure I had it on hand the first time I turned on the stereo for my first child. Before Mozart, before Brahams, even before They Might Be Giants.
Even before Journey.
The one downside is that I cannot play it for Thalia without my eyes welling up with tears, that nostalgic am I for the 70s-era post-feminist lessons the album teaches. Surely it helped shape my own values: that boys can play with dolls, girls can grow up to be firefighters, the princess doesn’t have to marry the prince, and that it’s alright to cry, especially when the Rams’ defensive lineman Rosie Grier tells you so.
Of course there is that bit of weirdness in hearing Michael Jackson sing about how when he grows up, he doesn’t want to change at all.
Where the Sidewalk Ends is the single greatest children’s book of all time, anywhere, ever, even in parallel universes and time warps and planets that have yet to be invented and I don’t know where else–and I just dare you to disagree.
On second thought, no, I don’t dare you. I pity you, all you Ann of Green Gables lovers, you Little House on the Prarie fan club members. Not because those aren’t wonderful books. But because you just don’t get as much mileage at cocktail parties quoting sappy Laura Ingalls lines about Ma and Pa as you do quoting Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who would not take the garbage out.
When I was in fifth grade, there was social currency in being able to memorize the entirety of Sick, an opus to hypochondria and preadolescent truancy.
I still remember the first few lines:
I cannot go to school today
Said Little Peggy-Ann McKay
I have the measles and the mumps
A gash a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet my throat is dry
I’m going blind in my right eye…
Of course Thalia is a little too young to sit still for much more than Brown Bear Brown Bear these days. So when the nephew came to stay with us last month–the Game Boy-addicted nephew–I forced a few readings from Sidewalk on him.
“But I haaaaaate poetry,” he whined. “Poems are lame.”
May I now present to you: Brodie, a kid who likes poetry.
Each morning he woke up eager to tell us about his new favorite part: The king who ate all the peanut butter sandwiches. The stupid kid who trades a dollar for four quarters because four is more than one. The dirtiest man in the world. Captain Hook who must remember not to pick his nose.
What’s not to like, I ask you with a thick Yiddish accent? Nose picking–that’s good stuff.
Edited to add:
There seems to be some discussion about whether or not Michael Jackson was in Free to Be. From what I can tell, he doesn’t perform on the CD, Diana Ross assumes that role–but he is in the original cast on the DVD according to IMDB. So apparently the Diana-Michael morphing started way earlier than anyone was even aware.