When our daughter took piano lessons with Nancy, I would sit and wait in the living room of her big old house, along with our young son. We had an hour together. An hour that didn’t have the distraction of home; laundry, homework, and preparing dinner. Nancy’s house was full of turn-of-the-century furniture and artifacts, including a harp. It was a wonder, especially to the eyes of a six year old boy.
Nancy had a television, and we were allowed to turn it on. During those piano lessons, Mister Rogers Neighborhood was on TV. This was different, because we weren’t watching it at home with distractions. We were a captive audience. Watching Mister Rogers was like being at the movie theater. Really. We did this every week, together, for two years.
He certainly made an impact. Every show was familiar, yet new and exciting. This became our favorite TV show to watch together. That was over thirty years ago. Today, I know Mister Rogers made a difference. He profoundly influenced my teaching. And, our son is a kind father with a big heart and positive attitude.
Piano lessons were an hour long. After a thirty minute Mister Rogers Neighborhood on TV, we read books. My strongest memory is reading aloud The Velveteen Rabbit. I had never read this book as a child, so reading the story to my son was a shared experience. It was wonderful.
When a classic book is still popular, there’s a good reason. I discovered that. This book has all the elements that really mean what is most important; childhood fear, worry, friendship, struggle, bravery, understanding, acceptance, and love. I’m a teacher who reads aloud every day, and I can attest that few books reach the depths of the most human experiences. The Velveteen Rabbit does. We worried and cried and cheered together. We asked a hundred questions.
We were captivated, together.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept.”
–The Velveteen Rabbit–
Being in Nancy’s big old house for two years was far more than piano lessons. Sharing Mister Rogers and many good books was the pinnacle.