Response Post #3: The Child Inside Us

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

This is going to end up being a strange hybrid response-personal post, as it will likely transcend its original intended scope (trés typique, Koza).

Cathy‘s personal post spotlighting Cookie Monster’s attempt to have a viral video hit inspired a great deal of passion inside of me. I love Cookie Monster. If I had been a boy, I likely would have aspired to be Cookie Monster, professionally speaking. As it was, I aspired to be Snuffleupagus, whom I found to be maddeningly androgynous when I was five. Was Snuffy a girl or a boy? I chose to think of it as a she, as the only other overt she (Oh, the phonetic irony…) was Zoe, who was overtly lame (and looked as if she were a  bit more familiar with Percocet than a Muppet should be). I later found out (thanks to Wikipedia), that the gentle woolly mammoth is indeed a boy whose proper name is Aloysius Snuffleupagus. God knows, if any name ever screamed “Monday night football! Beer! I am man!” it is Aloysius. What a fool I was. But I digress (Told you!)…

Cookie monster is a hero of mine because of his childlike enthusiasm. I posted this YouTube video of Cookie’s appearance on Martha (Hallowed Ruler of All That Is Good Despite a Brief and Heretofore Never-to-be-Mentioned Stint in Federal Confinement) earlier in the semester, and do so again now, if only because it is indeed my most-viewed YouTube video ever and the repetition is therefore appropriate:

One of the reasons I so adore Cookie Monster, and Sesame Street in general (Except Zoe!) is that it is a welcome reminder to all of us of our childhoods. I am childhood’s Number One Fan. If Childhood had a content in which whoever kept their hand on its rear axle longest would win a lifetime supply of it, I would totally win. As it is, no such contest has yet been held, and I am forced to rely on my own recreative ingenuity in attempting to turn back the clock.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be five again. Well, that’s a lie. I do. But I am quite content acting like I’m five instead. And I don’t mean wailing in the cereal aisle when my mom refuses to buy me Lucky Charms because of the sugar content. I mean swings. My dad and I visited the swings in my parents’ Florida neighborhood just last night. Swings are awesome. So is ding-dong ditch (known in some circles as Knock, Knock, Ginger, which sounds completely ridiculous). Have you ever played? I highly recommend it. My friends and I spent a good amount of the summer of 2008 figuring out which L.A. neighborhood was most conducive to successful execution of ding-dong ditching (Pacific Palisades, if you care to replicate the results). Such behavior would have been grounds for corporal punishment during actual childhood, and at 23, it is likely an even greater offense. But the benefit of playing such a game at 23 is a heightened capacity for STRATEGY and SPEED (critical to a successful getaway sans pesky police involvement).

It makes me sad that so few adults value the brilliance of children. And I don’t mean IQs and gifted programs. I mean kids’ abilities to recognize obvious truths and derive whimsical enjoyment from life. Kids inherently understand that just living in the world is a pretty great position to be in. There are great things about being an adult (freedom being chief amongst these), but there is no reason why we shouldn’t incorporate more childlike wonder into our adult lives, lives that often teeter perilously on the bring of blandness and disenchantment.

The success of the Harry Potter books (Shout out to Tara!) were encouraging to me for this very reason — it indicates that more adults have a taste for childhood than I had previously imagined. Admittedly, I began reading these books when I was Harry’s age in the first book, but at the same time, college kids were picking them up, and my own parents were snatching them from my tiny paws the moment I hit the last page. That adults even retained the ability suspend their disbelief long enough to wander Diagon Alley is one of their greatest triumphs in the last twenty years. Yes, they may simultaneously have been embezzling, offshore accounting, sub-prime mortgaging, and a variety of other offenses that make ding-dong ditching look like child’s play (Oh wait! It is!), but as long as they can find it in themselves to love Harry Potter, I fail to believe that all hope is lost. There is still something in those adults that is good. Even if it’s Slytherin good. In a world in which it’s becoming increasingly hard to find people who will humor me with a go-round through the kids’ section of Barnes & Noble every once in a while, I’ll take what I can get.

Think of all the things we don’t have in our bedrooms any more: Lincoln Logs. Polly Pocket (when she still fit in your pocket). Legos. Talk-boys. Skip-its. Floam. American Girl Dolls. GI Joes. Lite-Brites. Operation. Marble chutes. Pogs.

Good stuff, right? I bet I made you nostalgic just thinking about it all. And I didn’t even mention the soundtrack!

Well, here’s the secret: It’s not just for kids. Modern Polly Pocket may look like a lady of the night, and you may have some trouble finding a Talk-Boy á la Kevin McCallister, but you can swing. Or play Knock, Knock, Ginger. Or read Harry Potter (…and Goosebumps if you really want to go rogue from adulthood). Or just support Cookie Monster’s attempt to go viral.

Because the bottom line is this: We all ditched childhood way too soon in favor of something that seemed more fun. And now it’s up to us to make sure that it is.

*Image: http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/beacon/spring07images/spring07images/20-mercogliano-childhood/childhood.jpg

  1. Um, simply hilarious. Is it odd that Cookie Monster is eerily reminiscent of my cousin, and it’s the first time I’m noticing it? Seriously, the whole time I was watching that video, all I could think is, “Why are his voice and mannerisms so familiar?”

    Other highlights:
    – Snuffleupagus’ androgyny – so vexing, right?!
    – The fact that Martha totally wanted to bust a cap in Cookie’s a$$ during that whole segment.
    – I’ve been missing childhood as of late, and your insight was spot on. God life was so much easier then.
    – Agreed, HP is the only reason I have faith in adults and humanity as a whole.
    – Talk-boy! Skip-it! You better believe my Christmas wish list just got longer by two.
    – Oh no you didn’t just link to “You Get What You Give” — just ripping pages out of my diary.

    Made my night as per usual!

  2. And “just”…instituting daily vocab quizzes back into my life starting tomorrow.

  3. […] is a response not directly to but rather inspired by both Kate and Erika. Kate reminded me how much I’ve missed childhood lately, and Erika talked about her […]

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