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Monday, July 20, 2009

Life Lessons in Blue's Clues



These past several days have been chalk full of skinned knees, dress-up's, s'mores and--of course--the infamous child's show with Steve and his female companion. No, not any over-animated woman in matching stripes to ease his senile solitude, but his gender-confused canine, Blue.

My parents purchased two Blue's Clues VHS tapes at a yard sale for the entertainment of their grandchildren. Just how much entertainment those two some-odd hours of games and guesswork would strain and stretch, I doubt any of us anticipated. These five children, even the oldest at six who scoffs at the foolish antics of Nick Jr., have plastered their searching eyes on the screen, anticipating that short space of time of interaction when Steve will allow for them to enter his world by encouraging excited outbursts such as, "Notebook!" or "Thinking chair!" or "Leotard!"

In recovery from my recent surgery, I've spent the most of my days of late sleeping in my room, a thin and hollow door the only barricade between me and my wasted childhood repeating with great similitude in the youth of today. I hear the musings of a lonely man who's spent the better part of his early adulthood in the same green striped shirt, developing a slight combover and interacting with nothing but a green screen several hours a day. Steve now plays in an indie rock band, Steve Burns and the Struggle, I follow up on him considering I used to have a mad crush on him when I was little, but all of that's besides the issue at hand. Perhaps for another post on another day.

Well, I have this useless storage space in my brain that hoards movie quotes and scenes that no one else remembers. Useless, yet highly entertaining. And in hearing the same two episodes of Blue's Clues over and over and over and over and over, I've stored away so many subtle nuances and traditions of the show that I could regurgitate almost the entire performance from memory.

In the backyard today, I was engulfed in sticky toddlers sitting together on the grass eating hot dogs or marshmallows or dirt or whatever toddlers eat. We were all laughing, having a gay old time when the youngest girl, Ryleigh, pointed to something and shouted, "A clue! A clue!" I immediately followed her lead and said, "What? I need to tie my shoe?" And Emma, without missing a beat, chimed in, "No. A clue!" It occurred to me that we had entered an improvised game of Blue's Clues. With all the children on board, I proceeded to go through the first and second clues, mail time, and even a little skadoo session, and then ended the third clue on our thinking chair with the handy dandy notebook. At one point, I made a comment that these kids watch too much Blue's Clues. Then Ben put me in my place and said, "No, Aunt Whitney, you watch too much Blue's Clues." Touché, Benjamin. So we put all three clues together and then we played it out on the lawn, everyone laughing and feeling alive because they lived, for one small moment, in a simulated television show.

Well I already knew I could recreate hours and hours of movies, music and television from my noggin, so the event itself didn't surprise me. But it was the engaged playtime I spent with all six of these children that made me realize, "I think I can be good with children!" I've always considered myself to be a potentially wonderful mother...when my children reach middle school. I think I connect well with young adults who are facing the world and making decisions the best they can with the tools they've developed. That's why I want to write young adult fiction. But children? I've always written that off as a skill I won't have until child number four comes along. Well, hey, I think there's a little child in all of us who can learn to love that stage of life, work with it, and thrive.

So I say a little thanks to Blue's Clues for letting me know that I'm not lost to womanhood, motherhood nor humanity when it comes to that little voice that women often quote, resonating deep within their fertile wombs, "I love children!" I too enjoy the little runts, every now and then.

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