I can still remember the view from my favorite spot on the green carpet in front of our family television.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” would come out of its speakers as I settled into my beanbag underneath my blanket with a bowl of snacks on the coffee table beside me — my mom in the kitchen reading the newspaper.
I didn’t know back then why I loved watching Mr. Rogers so much, but I always kept coming back. Maybe it was because I wanted to know where the trolley would take us that day. Maybe I wanted to know what Mr. McFeely would deliver or what King Friday was going to sing.
But as I watched the trailer for the new movie coming out in November starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, my 36-year-old heart was transported back to that beanbag too.
And I got it.
There was a calmness I felt while watching the show. No bells and whistles and loud characters. Just simplicity.
There was a feeling like he was talking directly to me with his positive messages — almost as if he wasn’t in my TV but actually in my living room with me. I felt him imprinting kindness on my heart. I believed he wanted the world to be a better place, and inspired me to want to be a part in that too.
Mr. Rogers cared. And he made me care, too.
My kids are at the age now that I was when Mr. Rogers was a major part of my life. And while some of the shows they watch incorporate messages of kindness and being strong and being a good friend — it’s just… different. It’s not so simple. Messages are lost in the bright colors flying across the screen and the busyness of the commercials in between. There is grid upon grid of options that they can switch to when they get bored of one option and want another.
Me? I only needed Mr. Rogers in his red sweater talking his messages of positivity and inclusion into me from that screen. That was enough.
But our world’s not simple.
It’s messy. Loud. Busy. Overwhelming.
It’s why I hope one day we can get back to the days of Mr. Rogers… not just for my kids, but for all of us raising them.
Back to the simple. Back to calmness. Back to what’s important. Back to talking to our neighbors and not complaining about them on the community Facebook group. Back to having a conversation with the mailman instead of not even knowing his name. Back to using our imagination instead of our tablets. Back to embracing each other for our differences and not getting into social media battles over them.
Back to finding gratitude and appreciation in a simple, beautiful day in the neighborhood.
Back to kindness.