I have fond childhood memories of watching midday reruns of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I recall sitting on gold shag carpet in front of the big tube TV which was encased in dark wood, eagerly anticipating where Mister Rogers would go that day. I always loved when it was to the crayon factory.
From time to time I try to recreate that piece of my childhood for my own children. I go online and pull up old Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes and play them for my kids. They are as captivated by them as I was.
As I watch along with them as an adult, I see the layers of the show that I didn’t notice before. Fred Rogers was incredibly intentional with everything he did. When I watch the show now, it’s like seeing all the episodes for the first time.
During one particular episode we were watching together, Mister Rogers fed the fish and sang them a simple, 10-word song. This song stuck with me, and later that day when I was trying to soothe my infant daughter, I started singing the song to her. “I like to take care of you, yes I do, yes I do. I like to take care of you, yes I do, yes I do.” I can’t remember the effect it had on her, but I remember the effect it had on me. It transformed my heart. No longer was I trying to get this child to stop crying because for goodness sakes I have 100 other things I’m supposed to be doing, but I stared lovingly in her eyes and reassured her that I liked to take care of her.
It’s so simple, yet so profound. I began to carry this song with me to the middle of the night wake-ups. I sang it while changing diapers. I sang it while sopping up spit-up. I even sang it during the cleanup from the dreaded diaper blowouts.
Now, let me be completely honest – during diaper blowout situations, I often started out singing it sarcastically, but by the time I had sung it through a few times and the mess was getting better, I did mean it. If I’m being honest about that, I also need to share that a few times I started the song off by singing it through clenched teeth with lots of eye rolls. But again, by the end, I did sincerely mean it.
I love using this song in the context of parenting because there are lessons for both my kids and me. For me, it puts my focus where it should be – on caring for my children. It gently reminds me that I am the adult in the room. It is MY job to take care of my kids. It also reassures my children that I like to take care of them. I don’t want them to feel like they’re a burden; I always want them to know they are a blessing to me.
When your next trial comes, try singing this song out loud. There’s something soothing and reassuring in it. It calms me and transforms my heart each time I sing it. I hope it ends up being a powerful tool for you too!