“I LIKE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE”
I love a lot about Mr. Rogers, but those words might be my favorites. To tell a young person (or an old one…) that the way “they are” right now is not only “good” but that they don’t have to change a single thing…is the epitome in positive reinforcement. And it doesn’t matter if your little or big, young or old…you’re good.
A couple of weeks ago I went by myself to see the wonderful documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” It was the middle of a week day afternoon and there were only a hand full of people in the movie theatre. The film lasted about an hour and a half and I loved every minute of it.
At the beginning I became very nostalgic, (and yes, there were tears…) remembering that it was only a “moment” ago that our daughters, Kate and Abigail were little girls and our watching “Mr. Rogers” was a weekly ritual.
Fred Rogers made everything seem good. I loved how he opened every show with, “It’s such good feeling just being alive…a good feeling just smiling inside… such a good feeling, A very good feeling, The feeling you know You’re alive. It’s such a good feeling To know you’re in tune. It’s such a happy feeling To find you’re in bloom. And when you wake up ready to say “I think I’ll make a snappy new day,” It’s such a good feeling, A very good feeling, The feeling you know that we’re friends.”
And saying words like, “I’m proud of you,” made everybody (not only the kids but their parents…) feel really good.
Mr. Rogers was always totally predictable in what has become a stunningly unpredictable world. You could count on him to do and say the same things every day. At the beginning of the show when he walked in, he took off his jacket and put on a cardigan. Then he took off his loafers and put on sneakers. Interestingly, his tie stayed knotted which gave him an aura of grown up but gentle “formality.”
His rituals made all of us who were watching feel happy and safe.
Mr. Rogers told us to “Be honest; to always tell the truth, to say what you mean.” He also told his young followers that the most important thing you can do is…help.
“How can I help?” were four words he encouraged his kids to use often.
Rogers believed love was at the root of everything. He told his young audience that he was proud of them, that they were loved – and that they could be loving, too…”
You could count on Mr. Rogers, the world’s most beloved neighbor, “to be there” for you, loving you unwaveringly, every single day, in the same way.
No matter what.
I wish I could be his neighbor.
Here’s Mr. Rogers singing “It’s Such a Good Feeling.” Take a listen. And maybe sing along. I promise it’ll make you feel, well, really good.