Shows and movies made for kids typically come with an overarching theme or lesson. I remember watching family sitcoms when I was younger like ‘Full House’, ‘Family Matters’, ‘Who’s the Boss’, ‘Saved by the Bell’ and what was that one with Kirk Cameron? One sec … oh yeah, ‘Growing Pains’ (thank you, Google).
Life lessons were baked into these thirty-minute shows that both children and parents could learn from. Lessons like be respectful to your parents. Don’t lie. Be kind to others. Don’t cheat on a test. Don’t discriminate. The nerdy kid next door may be annoying, but he has feelings. Men can be great housekeepers too. In addition, the phrase “How Rude” can be effective when applied correctly.
When my girls were little, I just didn’t understand some shows. Depending on the age of your kids (grandkids or even your own memory), you may recall shows like ‘The Teletubbies’, “Barney & Friends’, ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’, ‘The Wiggles’ and ‘Handy Mandy’. Some of these shows tried to provide an underlying lesson, but as someone who stupidly purchased every single “Barney & Friends” VHS tape for their child, I can tell you that they were more annoying than anything was. Yes, my daughter was entertained, learned the days of the week and sang, “I love you, you love me” in the sweetest way, but it was nonstop in my home for a very long time.
Despite my feelings towards a specific purple dinosaur, some great shows did an amazing job of explaining life to our little ones in a way that makes sense to them. And not just the easy things like the importance of sharing, being nice to your brother or sister, or cleaning your room. I love the idea that these shows and movies were able to tap into some basics of life. Things everyone should learn, know, and carry with him or her through life.
Last week, while attending the New York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) annual meeting I had the opportunity to attend an event at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown. I have never been inside this museum before, and it was such a great experience! I am a history buff and love a good museum, so I can’t believe this was my first experience at this particular venue and I was not disappointed.
I really enjoyed the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, American Folk Art and the Keith Haring exhibit. Finally, as I made it to the 3rd floor, another exhibit caught my attention and that was the exhibit about the ‘Arthur Adventures’ and its creator, Marc Brown.
As I wandered through the gallery reading the history surrounding this famous children’s series, I noticed that each of the ‘Arthur’ stories held some significant lesson that the main character and his friends were subliminally learning. Responsibility. Kindness. To take chances. This series was not one that my children read or watched, so this was a new experience for me.
At the end of the exhibit, right before leaving the gallery there was a sign on the wall that read: “What I Learned from Arthur”. It caught my attention and as I read the sign, it really struck me. Before I get into this, I am going to share these lessons with you.
Here we go … “What I learned from Arthur” (written by author, Marc Brown)
1. Expect detours.
2. Be assertive.
3. Be nice.
4. Accept help and offer it, too.
5. Know your business; know who you are.
6. Always tell the truth.
7. Life is a process.
8. No matter how hard we plan, destiny takes over.
9. True success is doing what you love.
I loved everything about this! I read the list, read it again, and then took a picture of it so I could share with others (and now you). It is so basic … so simple, and so obvious! Arthur is not just for children my friends; the lessons he teaches are for everyone.
As adults, we easily fall into patterns, and the hustle and bustle of our lives, that we forget about the simple things. The basics that we learned as children. I’m not saying that we forget to be nice, or tell the truth, or try to be happy in our chosen lives and paths. But can you honestly say that you take the nine lessons presented by Marc Brown listed above, and use them as you make your daily choices?
I was a member of the Rotary Club of Sidney for a long time, and there are ‘Four Basic Truths’ or principles that a Rotarian lives by. Those are:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
I haven’t been an official Rotarian in a while, but I have always remembered these principles and try to make sure my answers are incorporated into any important decisions that I make.
Whether you follow the ‘Four Way Test’ of a Rotarian, learn through the lessons taught by ‘Arthur’ or still follow the teachings of Shari Lewis and her ‘Lamb Chop’s Play Along’ gang, the important thing is to make sure that you are authentic and true to yourself. Follow any of these lessons or principles; and you can be assured that you will make most decisions with a clear conscience, and a sense of knowing that you did what is right for you.
In ending, if you have a chance to visit the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown this fall, please do so. You won’t regret it, and I guarantee it will definitely be worth your time.
Be well, Chenango.