12/1/22

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

Moments come from everywhere.

Last Saturday, Michael, Olivia, and my middle son, Andy, and I took a drive through an outdoor Christmas light show. We had a nice dinner out at a Wisconsin supper club, which was having a crab leg special. All around us, there were the cracking sounds of crabs having their joints broken so the meat could be found.

That was definitely not my Moment. I cringed every time.

But then we went home, sat around the television, and watched…

…the new Blue’s Clues movie. Blue’s Big City Adventure.

Yep. An almost 58-year old man, a firmly 62-year old woman, a 36-year old man, and a 22-year old woman. Blue’s Clues. A children’s show. Which we loved. And we sat there and just howled with laughter.

Blue’s Clues wasn’t around yet when my big kids were little. But it was definitely around when Livvy was a baby, toddler, and little girl. The show debuted in 1996, four years before she was born. The big kids, Christopher, Andy, and Katie, were 16, 14, and 13 respectively when Olivia arrived. Because we lived in a small house, and because the kids were such a huge help with this little girl, we all watched what Olivia watched. And Blue’s Clues was #1 in all of our books.

The first Blue’s Clues movie, Blue’s Big Musical Movie, came out on video the same year Olivia was born. Yes, video. VHS. For Olivia’s snack before bed, I would set up her high chair in the living room, put the movie into the VCR, and she would watch, mesmerized, as I spooned cereal into her mouth. It was one of the few ways I could get her to eat. Very often, while she watched and ate, everyone appeared from wherever they were, sat in the living room, and watched as Steve, played by Steve Burns, the blue dog’s “owner”, managed to find his very first clue on his own.

While we watched the new movie on Saturday, Michael said, “I still tear up when I think of Steve finding his first clue.”

And yes, we still own the video.

I was totally caught up in Steve. He was clueless (ha!) and so funny. And gentle. And encouraging. He was everything you wanted your children to be influenced by. And as a harried mother of three teenagers, a challenging baby, and then my adding grad school to my already stuffed schedule, and then starting my own business, sometimes Steve was just what I needed too. When he looked out of the tv screen and told “you” that you were special, that “you” could do it, that everything would be okay, I would think, That’s just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

Years earlier, when I was a much younger harried mother, with three children born over a 4-year period (Christopher and Andy are 26 months apart; Andy and Katie are 13 months apart), there was another tv show that caught the kids’, and my, attention. It was Today’s Special. This was a Canadian children’s show, set in a department store. At night, while a woman named Jody set up the displays for the next day, Jeff, a mannequin played by Jeff Hyslop, would come to life. Like Steve, he was clueless and funny, due to a lack of life experiences outside the store, but he also sang and danced up a storm. He also looked out of the tv screen and told this mother, who wondered if she was doing anything right with these three incredible children, so different from each other, that it was all going to be okay. That it was all right to make mistakes. He said “you” could do it too. And so I did.

And yes, I still have those videos too, that I actually bought years after my kids stopped watching the show, but I would watch them on my own sometimes.

It’s amazing, really, where we get our encouragement from. Where we seek help. I know full well that these two men, Steve Burns and Jeff Hyslop, have absolutely no idea who I am. And yet, on those afternoons and evenings when I was exhausted, when something happened with a child that I had no clue (clueless!) how to handle, when I wondered if I’d totally ruined the little life that I was trying to raise with absolutely no sense of how to be a good mom, they told me I could do it. Just when that was exactly what I needed to hear.

And for the most part, I think I did do it. Now that my kids are 38, 36, 35, and 22, I look at them with the greatest of love and admiration. But I also still feel a lot of doubt from time to time. Should I have done this? Should I have done that? Are they okay?

They’re okay.

After the movie, I watched a video on YouTube with Steve Burns talking about his role as Steve, and what Blue’s Clues meant to him. He talked about how the show was quietly modeled after Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. And I thought, Of course it was!

There was another man, who looked out of the tv screen and told everyone watching that “you” are special. “You” could do it. Everything would be okay.

Watching the new Blue’s Clues movie on Saturday night, with two out of four of my kids, the 2nd and the 4th, all I could think was how much I’d like to say thank you to Steve. And to Jeff. And even to Mr. Rogers, though only Christopher watched him regularly, every day while he had lunch as a toddler. They must have helped so many kids with the growing-up process. And they helped so many moms too, I bet.

At least this twenty-something mom with three kids, and then an older, but still scared forty-something mom with three teenagers and one wild baby.

Thanks, guys.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Baby Christopher.
Adult Christopher, with wife Amber and Grandbaby Maya Mae.
Baby Andy.
Adult Andy.
Baby Katie.
Adult Katie.
All three big kids.
Baby Olivia.
Adult Olivia.

Leave a Reply

%d