What do President Obama and the average toddler have in common?
They both love Cookie Monster. And they both watched him during their childhoods.
Yup, at forty-seven (forty-eight in August), our president is the first ever to have grown up with Sesame Street. As the show is celebrating its fortieth anniversary, he was one of its older watchers (he was seven when it launched), but with a younger sister in the house, there’s no way he missed it.
The show’s creator, Joan Ganz Cooney, told TIME Magazine she was expecting to hear all about how much Sasha and Malia loved the show. She was willing to bet a million bucks on it. Instead, she heard about his own memories of the Street. So much cooler than being the first president to admit to smoking pot (OK, to trying it but not inhaling Mr. Clinton). Not to mention something I can actually tell my four-year-old!
Come to think of it, it’s time I tell my four-year-old about Mommy’s Sesame Street watching childhood. Without a TV in the home as a child, it was a special treat to see the street at my grandmother’s house. My watching is more akin to Obama’s – with a younger brother, I did most of my watching as an older elementary schooler, on videos that my parents bought after they bought their first TV/VCR (still no TV reception) sometime around his birth. A chunk of our family’s inside jokes and private references circle right back to those videos, by the way, from the Beatles-esque “Letter B” to the fact that it just ain’t easy bein’ green.
Because Sesame Street sticks with you. And that’s exactly what the folks over at TIME are hoping for President Obama: “The Obama presidency is a wholly American fusion of optimism, enterprise and earnestness — rather like the far-fetched proposal of 40 years ago to create a TV show that would prove that educational television need not be an oxymoron.”
As part of the generation of parents who are sharing a show they watched as kids with their own kids, what are the take-away lessons you retain from the Street?