Baby's First Swag Bag

Mister Noah's Neighborhood

Okay, look. Nick Jr. is on right now. Nick Jr. has maybe been on for awhile now. Maybe. Possibly. I don't know my life. 

I put Nick Jr. on for Ike so I could shower, write a blog post and answer some emails. (My favorite being the one someone [HI LISA] sent me at 3 a.m. to ask about getting stains off a microfiber couch and repeatedly used the phrase "COUCH PENIS." Because RELEVANT. God, I love you people.) I put Nick Jr. on because attempts to let him free range around the house had already resulted in a pants-removal incident that hereforeafter shall be referred to as COUCH POOP. Please don't email me about it. 

Noah is also here, and also watching Nick Jr. He is watching Nick Jr. with a surprising amount of intensity, given that he is now almost 8 years old and should probably know by now that nobody ever dies on Little Bear. At least not outside of Sweeps. And yet he just barrelled into my office to shriek at top volume that someone named Tonny (?) has lost his drum and it's ALMOST CHIME TIME (?), Mom! If he can't find his drum then CHIME TIME WILL NOT BE BALANCED. AND EVERYTHING WILL BE DESTROYED! CHIME TIMMMMME!!!!! AAAUUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!

He is still down there, yelling about Chime Time, quite literally CAPS LOCKing all over the place.

(Ike seems less invested in this particular plot line, but hey, he is still wearing his pants.)

I used to worry about what I could just "turn on" for them once Noah outgrew the preschool channels and moved on to...God, that next-level-up frenetic, derivative, toy-commercials-posing-as-entertainment crap. (LET ME TELL YOU HOW I REALLY FEEL, CARTOON NETWORK.)

(Lego Legends of Chima, by the way. That's where Lego officially lost me. That's how Lego BROKE ME. I went along with — and even attempted to understand — that Ninjago business but then it's like Lego was able to pinpoint the EXACT SECOND we'd finally bought enough sets to collect all the Important Minifigures Of Note and thus introduced a whole new series of...holy shit, I don't even know. Feuding tribes of lions and crocodiles and eagles fighting over mystical blue Legos while riding Sea-Doos and motorcycles. Oh, and there's this roofie flower that lets you brainwash people? Seriously, just try to read the Wikipedia page about it. I made it halfway through the character names but then my brain started crying and my eyeballs started to bleed because the English language lost all meaning.) 

(The Lego Movie looks sort of fun, though! Gaaaahhhhh those assholes here fine take all my money.)

ANYWAY. I shouldn't have worried, because Noah is not at all discriminating when it comes to television. If the big glowy glow box is on, he'll watch it. Maybe because we do restrict his screen time most of the time (IT'S SUMMER IT'S HOT OUT LAY OFF ME), but maybe because he's just a kid with terrible taste in television. (That he probably got from me. I mean, Good God, I'm still watching True Blood, y'all.)


I recently discovered that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is still on, in endless, regular repeats. (It's also available on Amazon Prime for free.) For some reason I'd always assumed that it wouldn't hold my kids' interest, what with all the hojillion other programming choices available.

(Never mind the fact that I personally watched Mister Rogers for an embarassing number of years, usually claiming that oh, I was just waiting for The Electric Company or Carmen Sandiego and this was on, so whatever, I'm not watching it or anything, SHUT UP HERE COMES THE TROLLEY YAAAAY!)

But I was feeling nostalgic a few months ago (lots of cry-inducing Internet coverage on the 10th anniversary of Fred Rogers' death will do that to you, turns out) and decided to put it on for Ike, just to see. Noah and Ezra heard the TV homing bat-signal and quickly joined him on the couch.

At some point, Noah whined that this was boring. I told him he didn't have to watch. Go play with your Legos. He told me never mind, it was okay, he'd suffer through it, somehow

So, some background here, in which I reveal why the cavalier attitude I just displayed re: television-as-babysitter is kind of a big lie of hot fat heaping guilt: Noah struggles with something we've dubbed "TV Talk," where he somewhat compulsively recites TV dialogue to himself, over and over, usually at inappropriate times and at HIGHLY inappropriate volumes. He's done it for as long as I can remember, and while he continues to make huuuuuuge strides in his social and communication skills, this particular flavor of echolalia persists, usually when he's nervous or overwhelmed.

(And yes, we've tried going really long stretches without any TV/movies/screens/etc. It doesn't help with the tic but just makes the poor kid kind of miserable, because all that stuff is fun. His teachers/therapists have all recommended working with him to more fully absorb and process media [since there's really no escaping it, unless we go Amish or something], and to find tactics to help him control the constant replay loop in his head. We let him watch TV in moderation and then try to redirect him to talk to us ABOUT what he's seen or heard, if that makes sense.) 

But with Mister Rogers, there is no TV Talk. No hurling himself around the room or shrieking about CHIME TIIIIIIIME. He'll still sigh sometimes and act like he'd rather be watching Lego lions fight with Lego crocodiles about who fucking knows, but he'll sit on the couch and watch. (SIGH!)

And the he will actually mention things he's learned on the show — even the most abstract of concepts — much later and in a perfectly appropriate context. He tripped and fell outside, and instead of exploding in anger at his feet or the sidewalk (his typical reaction), he talked about how Mister Rogers said that everybody falls down and gets hurt sometimes. 

Then another night, he came downstairs and started talking very clearly about some things he was feeling scared and anxious about. Things we've been trying to get to the bottom of for weeks. Why? Because Mister Rogers told him it was always better to tell people you love about your feelings instead of keeping them inside.



(Hmm. Suddenly a little overwhelmed myself because of all these feels.)

Oh God, I think I hear Dora coming on downstairs. I think it's time to go change the channel. I think I need to go see a man about a cardigan.

And then go outside and play some make believe.



Jennifer B

YES. We LOVE Mr Rogers over here (7 year old boy and 4.5 year old girl). In fact they wanted to go visit Mr Rogers at his house and were kind of upset that he was not, in fact, alive anymore.

Do you know about Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood? PBS cartoon version with related yet slightly different characters but same style of show. Excellent stuff.


Love the Mr. Rogers, but you're totally missing out here. The BEST tv show being made right now that you can let your kids watch is Phineas and Ferb. When I get together with parents of like aged children, we all talk about how great a show it is. (And then maybe start getting into the finer points of our favorite episodes, but you know...)

Basically, the show is creative, kind, never mean, appropriate and funny as all get out. Plus bonus! There's good music. Next time they ask for Chima, try Phineas and Ferb instead. You can thank me later.

Steph T.

Mr. Rogers *tear* filled many hours of after school time. And like you, I watched him way longer that should be admitted...because I was also waiting for 3,2,1 Contact. I might need to revisit The Land of Make-Believe for a bit myself. :)


This has strange parallels to our life right now. I'm rounding out the third and final week of solo parenting of my almost-2-year-old, whilst pulling long workdays and preparing an out-of-state move this weekend. (Jealous yet?) So of COURSE, we all (munchkin, nanny and me) came down with a nasty summer cold/flu this past weekend.

Needless to say, limits on TV and movies have gone out the window, since it keeps the cranky little sick one occupied, and allows the also-sick adult to wallow on the couch.

Said munchkin also managed to stick her hands down a freshly-filled diaper this weekend, and came up to me, hands out, with a look of complete bafflement. I'm just glad she didn't touch the microfiber couch.



Did you ever happen to read this lovely (old) profile of Mr. Rogers? Was published in Esquire forever ago (Tom Junod wrote it), and now I can only find it on some odd radio website, but I have always loved this piece. There's maybe just something special about Mr. Rogers that kids pick up on.

Angela N

I love Mister Rogers too. I know many kids who would benefit from a calm, non-visually-insane show!

I bet Noah would really like Bill Nye the Science Guy. You can watch lots of full episodes on YouTube, and check them out from your local library. If he loves them, then buying a set from Amazon could be a great investment! Have fun! :)


They have a birthday card you can buy that has Mr. Rogers on the front and when you open it it has a sound clip from Mr. Rogers telling you that you are special and unique. I want to buy it and open it every morning for my own personal affirmation.


"Rogers" as he calls it is all my 21 month old really watches. He loves it and my husband and I find it relaxing and, of course, wonderfully nostalgic. PBS kids show Daniel Tiger's neighborhood is a production of the Fred Rogers foundation and all of the characters are based on the land of make-believe! Similar songs and messages. I'm sure Ike would love it!!!


I second Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, but it might be a bit young for him - it is definitely preschool oriented. But it has the same lessons (try it again, use your words, it's almost time to stop so choose one more thing, etc). They even did one before the election about voting! I'll have to set the DVR to catch any Mr. Rogers too. So, so, SO much better than most crap on TV.


While I liked Mr. Rogers himself, though he talked entirely too slow, I thought all his character puppets were totally creepy. I couldn't stand it. Blech.

The fact that I liked Mr. Rogers confirms the fact that there is something about Presbyterian ministers that is inherently likable and trust-inducing. Not that I am Presbyterian in the least since childhood, but I can still pick out a Presbyterian minister at one hundred paces.


Oh, I am about to burst into tears. That's so wonderful. Sweetness with Noah and sweet nostalgia. I remember watching Mister Rogers during a snow day in high school once.

And THANK YOU for the heads up about Mister Rogers of Amazon Prime.

Caitlin Greene

OMG! and now come the tears, dammit Amy my hormonal ass almost made it until the end of a work day without crying! That'll teach me to read when I should be doing productive things

Brigid Keely

We love "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" for all those reasons. There's very targeted lessons about "using words," "calming down," "sharing," etc that don't feel like lessons. There's a lot of kindness and patience shown, a lot of repetition in not boring ways, etc.


We used to watch Mr. Rogers in college before dinner because it was so soothing. We paired it with a nice single malt scotch, but still. Mr. Rogers, 20 year olds.


My kids (ages 2 & 4) ADORE Mister Rogers. They watch PBS stuff that drives me insane at grandma's, but at home it's all Mister Rogers and Sesame Street, because that's what mommy can stand to listen to:) We just watched the one about telling people you love about your feelings instead of keeping them inside on Monday!


Oh, but by the way, Daniel Tiger is dead to me. My kids don't usually get the message right. Like one was how if you're playing with someone you can't make them play what you want: everyone can decide for themselves. They turned that into 'everyone can do whatever they want, whenever they want' and God forbid I try to tell them what to do. They screamed "PEOPLE CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO" back at me for weeks.


Eep. I never let my boys watch Ninjago, but finally caved because I saw you did, so whats good for the goose... Now hooked hooked I tell you on that Chima show. Buuut, watch it, the overall story the balance of chi, both good and bad use it, can't disturb the balance. Very star wars rip off, but lessons are present. Of course now they want to BUY THE SETS. Though legos are the only toys all 3 agree on. Oh, and chime time tickety tock chime time- freaks me out yo!

Elisabet M

I love Mr. Rogers! I so appreciate and still marvel at how he taught us to deal with life. Don't let that slow speech and cardigan fool you! He was ahead of his time...I firmly believe that his show - and lessons - are needed more than ever. And I still watch his show occasionally. I adore the segments about how things are made! Glad to hear that his show helps with Noah.


Mister Rogers FOREVER!

That made me tear up.


Amy! Long time reader, seldom commenter here, but I think you have hit the nail on the head here! I have recently determined that with my oldest boy, something we did "wrong" with him from the beginning was not to discuss feelings enough. We are working on changing that now and he is just younger than Noah. His younger sister is very adept at explaining exactly what she is thinking and feeling...sometimes in a bit too loud tamtrummy way, but still. We discussed lots of THINGS but never FEELINGS. I too grew up with Mister Rogers, but he was never a favourite of mine, but because we only had ever one channel (no cable TV, we suffered) I watched. TV can be educational. I am going to try this with my kids now:o) Thank you!


My two year old was singing "Wont You Be My Neighbor" one early morning at 4am (in my bed, not sleeping), and realized how great Daniel Tiger is. The wisdom of Mister Rogers lives on through shows like that. I was able to sing along with her.




I just recently started watching Mr. Rogers with my children and have been so nostalgic for him. What a wonderful man he was.


Where is Mr Rogers on all the time if we don't have Amazon Prime? Netflix?? I was thinking that I'd donate a kidney to have that show for my kids. It's the reason that i love the dentist - cuz when I was a kid Mr. Rogers talked about the dentist and the dentist examine a llama's teeth. I also love llama's.


It's raining from my eyes!


So... I'm wondering if part of the rise in PDD/Sensory Integration-type diagnoses is the insane amount of stimulation our children now receive. I find it absolutely fascinating that if you take away all of the added stimulation (which every kid's program I can think of has), and just have Fred and Daniel and Lady Elaine and the trolley, that Noah takes it all in. Without all of that extraneous stimulation to process, he gets it. It makes sense. That is just totally fasincating. Next up? Get some Little House On The Prairie on for him pronto!


My son (4 1/2) has SPD and this echolalia thing is something I've always had to explain to our friends, teachers, etc because they will hear him repeat a story about Robots That Say Cheese and think he's off his rocker while I'm like, "Duh, Backyardigans, Season 3." I'm so, SO psyched to hear about Mr. Rogers being on Amazon Prime!


Have you guys ever watched Daniel Tiger on PBS? My daughter's not really into tv yet but I love this show because of the nostalgia! It's essentially the cartoon land of make believe... Adorable!
Also... Mister Rogers is the best!

Sassy Apple

Just had to jump on the Neighborhood Nostalgia. I still remember, 41 years ago, when I had to stay at the neighbor's after school. Mr. Rogers conflicted with Gilligan's Island on local programming and the other kids (all older) made fun of me when I said, 'But it's time for Mr. Rogers!' Gilligan is okay, but he's no Mr. Rogers!


Walked downstairs to my 7-year old telling my mom "and then Bender says 'Please insert liquor!'". That's when we stopped letting the kid watch Futurama with us. What I'm saying is, it could be worse :)


There is a park near Ligonier, about 50 miles outside of Pittsburgh. They have an interactive ride through make believe on the trolley. Kids used to love going there when they were little.

lazza b

i live overseas now and my kids have been raised with all the drivel and blargh that nick jr and playhouse disney have to provide. i took them home last year to pittsburgh and got all nostalgic for fred and it still plays on pbs there. i was so amazed at how slow it moved. i was so used to all the noise/guitars/everybody screaaaaam-ness that i had to think holy hell what have we done to our kids. why cant these shows help the kids think, and feel and just slow the fuck down for a while. an aside that apparently mrs rogers was a pretty right bitch and doped up on some nice momma's helpers (my dad used to be their pharmacy delivery boy), so even mrs. rogers needed something to chill her out when kids are being kids.


I'm the oldest of 5 and what I always remembered about Mr. Rogers is that I thought I was too cool for it. My mom always claimed I loved it and said I insisted we name a cat Daniel Striped Tiger (but I always thought that was her idea).

What can I say? I was a snotty 10 year old :)

But I was brought to tears reading what he said about 'finding the helpers' in scary times. It seems that there is so much hate in the world, that it would do all of us good to listen to some Mr. Rogers every day. What a gentle, sweet man.


I love Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood growing up. He was always so calm and I think I could use calm in my life right now. That might be our go to after dinner calm down show.

I was also going to fourth Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. My 4 started talking about some of the same feeling concepts because of the show.


YAY Noah!! And God Bless Mister Rogers

Lisa Y

Another thank you for mentioning that Mr. Rogers is on Amazon Prime. I introduced my kids to it today and they were excited to see the characters from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. This is a little embarrassing, but I often find myself saying, "What does Daniel Tiger say?" and then singing one of his little songs. "When you wait, you can play, sing or imagine anything!" Or the one I need to sing to MYSELF: "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four!"


Yeah, that TV Talk thing. I have heard way too much of it since my son started talking. Now I wish I'd encouraged more of Mr. Rogers...


I love Noah...have ever since he was a baby turtle. To see him grow and change and become this big kid person is both wonderful and kinda sad....where does the time go? Who said my baby boy could be 17 and my girl could be 8 going on 30 and your kids can get all tall and not stay the babies we've adored in amalahland? I strenuously object. Sigh. But it was really nice of Noah to bequeath the toddler Owen Wilson Hair to Ike.

Lynda M O

Mr Rogers-what's left that these wise and compassionate commenters have not said. He was an amazing man and taught us so much over the years. I was doing ok reading here until I got to the comment reminding us to Find the Helpers; that's when the waterworks began. He knew what to say when we needed to hear it, and there have been so many times we have needed to recall his wisdom.


Way to go, Mr. Rogers.

And thanks for the Wikipedia link. It kind of blows my mind that someone old enough to type took the time to write this:

King Crominus and Queen Crunket later fell down into a giant sinkhole inside their tank causing Cragger to accuse the Lion tribe of being behind this and declared war upon becoming the new King of the Crocodile Tribe.


I'm not familiar with Mr Rogers, but I'm sure I'd heard the name before; clearly he was a good guy. But anyway, my throat's all tight now having just recounted this story to Mum. It's pretty wonderful.


I am also drawing the line at Chima. I require my product-placement to be a little less dumb, violent, derivative, and sexist.

Becca Lynn

*Lie down*
*Try not to cry*

*Cry a lot*

/\ Me. Right now. <3


I love Mr Rogers. What a wonderful man. There is such comfort in watching a sweet grandpa telling u that u are special just being yourself.


Good God woman take them to Idlewild! Coolest little kid themepark evah and uh THERE IS A TROLLEY YOU CAN RIDE ON TO MISTER ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD. "come along, come along to the castle HUG AND SONG!"


I too love Mr. Rogers. I also agree with the comment about Phineas and Ferb because that is a great show, and I get upset when my kids don't want to watch it. I also like the Disney channel in general because of the lack of commercials for all the toys and garbage.

My kids (now 9 and 6) wouldn't watch TV when they were little even when I wanted them to. I always wondered how parents knew about all the new toys. Then I put Nickelodeon on, and WOW.

Also, I really like Good Luck Charlie and so does my 6 year old daughter. She will watch the same episode multiple times in one day if I let her (we get an east and west Disney channel on DirectTV).


Thanks for the great tip. My daughter is very similar to Noah and I've always enjoyed reading your posts about him. I have Mr Rogers on right now. I told them I was turning on a show and they were all whiny and complaining. The minute that music started, silence and totally zoned in. You are a genius Amy!


Tried Ninjago after reading your boys like it, its ok, the commercials and product push freak me out a bit. You mentioned adventure time once, let my 8 year old watch it, whoops- that my friend is NO Mr. Rogers neighborhood! :)


Thanks for the headsup about Mister Rogers on Amazon Prime---I just put an episode on to see if I thought it would appeal to my two year old (who is actually napping right now) and my six- and eight-year olds are RIVETED. They're saying things like "He's funny!" and "I like him, and "Oh, I love the I Spy town and buildings!"

Mister Rogers is an excellent antidote to all the other ka-blam-pow programming that's out there.


I read this post yesterday, cried when I thought about Mr. Rogers, and then forced my 4 and 2 year old to watch it after dinner. My son was totally fascinated and half way through asked me "Do you think Mr. Rogers likes me?" Heart = melted. Thank you for reminding me what a perfect show that was!


My youngest daughter (now 34) used to kiss the TV screen and ask me to "comb her hair like Mr. Rogers". Yeah, big Mr. Roger's fans here.


Oh my goodness, thank you for this!
My husband and I have been arguing over how much TV (read Qubo, no cable... my take, next to none.) is appropriate for our _16 month old_.
I can deal with small doses of Mr. Rogers, especially Ye olde black & white ones she's watching right now.


I still love Mr. Rogers and I feel no need to point you elsewhere.


You inadvertenly opened my door to feelings. I like to keep it closed even though Mr. Rogers says it's ok to let people I trust inside.


i think i need to start adding Mr. Rogers to our TV time. One can only watch the same 10 episodes of Sesame Street so many times (talking about me, A doesn't seem to care one bit as long as she gets more "Ehmo Wurld?"

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