A friend and I were talking about Mister Rogers recently and he asked me who was filling that role today. Specifically, he was referring to the role of a safe, father-like figure filled with wisdom, patience, and an appreciation of every human soul. I suggested that “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” was doing a nice job of filling some of the gap, but that no one in educational entertainment today came close to modeling Mister Rogers’ role.
And then my friend suggested something laughable. He said that I should fill that role.
Sadly, I am no Mister Rogers.
Lately, my eldest daughter (4 years old) has been acting out some kind of angry persona, whether she is actually angry or not. Whenever she acts angry, she becomes generally hard to deal with and abusive toward any notion of control that someone exerts over her. In any case, she had chosen to model her angry face while my wife and I were trying to get her and her sister ready to go to grandma’s house for the day. It was a rough morning.
As I carried her to the car, I informed her that I didn’t appreciate the act and that I was fairly certain that she wasn’t actually angry.
“I am very angry,” she said without a hint of emotion.
“I don’t think you are,” I said.
“I am too!” she said, a little more convincingly.
“I still don’t think so, and I don’t know why you’d want to be,” I said.
“I am angry!” she said again through clenched teeth. And then to convince me, she started clawing at my face.
“If you want to see what real anger is, I will show you!” I yelled as I grabbed the hand that was clawing at me. I deposited her in her car seat, buckled her up for safety, and walked back to the house seething to grab the rest of the stuff that we needed for the day.
It wasn’t my finest moment of parenting, and what I said to her was unfortunately true. I did show her was it was to be angry. I was definitely a role model for my daughter, but not at all the way I should have been.
And so I think I’ll have to pass the chance if PBS comes knocking at my door and asks me to be the next Mister Rogers. I still need to work on being a good Mister Mosey before I can show other kids how to be patient and kind all the time.
Can you think of any good role models for kids? Who did you want to be like when you were a kid?