One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Hi Readers! In case you have some friends who still think you are IMAGINING a huge sea-change in our culture, a veritable tsunami of distrust in our kids, their competence and our communities, we present two Sesame Street clips. Same story line. Different era. Can you spot the difference?



65 Responses to One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

  1. Mr. Knee Pads December 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    She’s barely even noticeable, but I do agree that they probably stuck her in there as “a good example” for families to follow. Or at least as some kind of insurance against the helicopter mums who see it.

    Keep em coming, Lenore!

  2. Vinny December 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    It’s amazing how subtle it is…

    The funny thing is the kids are running around the neighborhood in the first video during, what I assume is the 70’s, when NYC was a bit more… Well… Colorful.

    Then in modern times, when things are safer, mom is right there almost the entire time.

    Amazing how we’ve let this just slip into our culture and our mindset.

  3. Stevie Taylor December 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    Hmmm. Maybe the difference (the mom’s presence) is due to the youngest sibling? The one in the stroller is maybe 3? I have 4 kids and when the youngest was 3 he sometimes got abandoned down by the garden or in the tree fort when the older ones moved on to the next thing. They simply forgot he wasn’t tagging along behind them. Not an emergency around the farm as he either caught up to them or came and found me on his own. But I wouldn’t necessarily let them haul him around the city putting up dog posters without me in case the same thing happened (he fell back to look at something or the older kids got distracted and lost track of him).

    Although sometimes a threat can be effective reminder for the older ones to be vigilant. They often took him and his tricycle with them when riding bikes up and down the farm road. They had marked beginning and ending places (the farm drive ends in a busy logging road so they had to stop their bikes a good distance before reaching that point) and I told them if I came out and found that the youngest rode past those places b/c they weren’t watching him, then everyone had to put their bikes up for the day. Perhaps if mom said the youngest was to be strapped in the stroller and not allowed out so they could keep a handle on him, then it would be fine. Although, not a very fun adventure for the youngest! 🙂

    Now I will probably be slammed for being “lazy” and forcing my older kids to “babysit” their younger siblings. But to me, it’s not “babysitting”. It’s a pointed effort to make my children understand that in a family we learn to take care of each other and watch out for one another. Hopefully, in their their adult lives, that translates into taking care of others, too, and not always just worrying about themselves.

  4. Tara December 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    I really don’t know that the two clips are that odd. There were some obvious ones, in the first clip the kids are clearly alone (and in a print shop with strange men) but in the second one they DO go to the library, use their resources and make the sign alone (and the little brother is there, as well).

    In my town we don’t do as much walking around as I’m sure they do in other parts of the country, so it was stranger to me to see a 4 year old in a stroller, but I think that’s more cultural to my area than anything else. He was smushed in there!

  5. Barb December 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Actually, Tara if you watch closely, in the second one, Mom walks with them to the library. She just isn’t helping the the sign making.

  6. Donna December 22, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    This reflects two big issues that I have with parenting today – mom was present the whole time although the older kid seems older in video 2 than video 1 and the idea that preschoolers need to be pushed around in a stroller. Anyone else notice that mom was not in the frame when the kids were talking to the woman but right there when they were talking to the man?

    @ stevie – I may agree with your assessment if the youngest played any part in the story but he was just window dressing. The little kid did nothing except sit in the stroller. He didn’t help make or hang the posters. The story could have been done without the little kid without a single change in dialogue or action.

  7. Chris December 22, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    I know it isn’t the point, but I think it is interesting that in neither version do the kids thank the person who returned their dog.

  8. gramomster December 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Ummmm…. at least the kids made their own sign? And went, I mean, got taken, to the library to do so? Ugh.
    And yes, @ Donna, I totally noticed the mom not there when they talked to the woman, and I momentarily hoped the older two had been sent to hang up the signs without mom. Alas, no.

    I was actually impressed that they went to the library to do something. Teaching college, both my husband and I have had a loads of students who have no concept of how to use the library, where on campus it is, what to do when they get there, that they can ask questions (of a STRANGER?!)… so disheartening. I loved riding my bike to the library. I went all the time. By the time I was 10 they were letting me help check books back in I was there so much. By myself.

  9. Eddie December 22, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    There are a few subtle differences. Most noticeable is that the mother is present. Another one is that in the first one they just put signs up, but in the second one, they ask for permission.

    Also, it isn’t that current because the computer at the library is very old and they didn’t include their area code. Nowadays, you almost always have to give the area code because of overlap and they probably wouldn’t put their phone number on a sign that they post around town. They’d probably put a throw away email address.

  10. maggie walkup December 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    in the first video the kids were by themselves, they were also in the middle of the road when they got the dog back. They also had to interact with a human being at the printers (which looked way cooler than the computer at the library).

    I’m a little surprised they put their PHONE NUMBER on the poster in the second one. Putting personal information out there like that – now creeps know they have a dog named Lucy AND have their phone number. That’s a kidnapping waiting to happen.

  11. kimelah December 22, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    I cried when I watched the first one. My strongest thought was how much more independent children were. I think I’m in mourning over the loss of that independence. I feel for many of the children of today who won’t/don’t get to experience that rush of “I did it!”

  12. dmd December 22, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    I’m sure they added the mom because parents complain about shows/cartoons with kids w/o parents. I hear it often online and even among people I know. Helicopter parents (or those who have just been ingrained) think that showing kids doing stuff on their own sets a bad example. I don’t find the phone # strange – using an email is not immediate enough with a lost dog. We lost our dog last year, and definitely posted our phone number. Of course, it was a cell (since we were out in the streets looking for her).

    Had an interesting exchange with my MIL. She was with my son (8) at home yesterday and when I got home she asked if I was going to be around for a while. When I said yes, she said her back was killing her and she was going to go lie down. She wouldn’t do it while she was watching after my son. And he was home, on the computer. I told her that we leave him alone at home and she said I know, very mildly disapprovingly, but then said that when she was my son’s age, she would be in charge of watching her younger brother.

  13. Robin December 22, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Did you guys not notice the printer in the first video was actually operating WHILE THE KIDS WERE RIGHT THERE! They could have had their fingers cut off, or WORSE, gotten INK on themselves! Okay, sarcasm off now 🙂

    I agree with others, there was no need for mom and the toddler to be shown. Who else noticed that the dog return happened in a public place. We wouldn’t want those strangers coming to our house, just in case they took the dog on purpose to gain access to the kids…

  14. Candice December 22, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    I actually had more problem with the first video than the second video for one reason only: The kids didn’t have permission to put the fliers up on the store windows. I know I am just knit-picking, but it is important for kids to learn to ask before doing something like this. Plus. it would foster a positive adult/child interaction.

    As far as the mother subtly being in the second video, I guess it didn’t bother me all that much. Yes, she was present, but it seemed like she was letting the kids be in charge. She was just along for the ride.

  15. Joel December 22, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    I know I was supposed to be looking for a “Free Range Kids” lesson, but all I could think was “WOW! I haven’t really been appreciating how incredibly time-and-labor-saving modern desktop publishing is!”

  16. Anna December 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Interesting to compare versions. Like Eddie, I noticed that the kids put up their own signs in the first version, but adults did it for them in the second version.

    I also thought it was interesting that in the first version, a fairly antiquated printing technology was used to make the sign (compared to the video’s era), but in the second version, contemporary technology was used. It was really neat to see how the old printing press worked. Sort of like showing a typewriter to a kid now. The old iMac and scanner, while dated, wouldn’t be nearly as foreign to today’s kids (though they probably would think so).

    That said, I don’t think the significant “free-ranging” differences in the clips are about which technology was used to make the sign. The subtle differences are more about the role the adults play in the process.

    Off topic, but I’m sure some of you have read Frank McCourt’s book, Angela’s Ashes. The stories in that book about those very young boys tending their baby brother in an old baby buggy all day, all over town, are enough to make even my hair curl a bit.

  17. Erika Evans December 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm #

    I liked that kids in the first video were interacting with, learning from, adults who are not their parents in a grownup environment. Nowadays we put kids (and their mothers, alas) in a “kid ghetto” where they’re supposed to spend all day, every day only around other kids and other mothers–it’s considered unsafe for kids and bothersome to adults for children to cross the boundaries. I think it’s a real shame as kids lose the opportunity to interact with/learn from all the adults in the community.

    I see kids all the time, even the age of my oldest (9) who have no idea how to carry on a conversation with an adult who is not their parent. Sad.

  18. pentamom December 22, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Someone said, the mom was there because the youngest child was there.

    Okay, but why weren’t the kids just out on their own? Why was the youngest child, not old enough to help, there if not just because the mom had to go along and bring the toddler?

    Legally, the kids wouldn’t be allowed in the print shop area today, I don’t think. But I do take Lenore’s point — one was about the kids taking the initiative and enlisting the help of adults who actually had services to offer, all on their own. The other was about everything happening under the eye of mom.

  19. KLY December 22, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    I showed these to my partner the other day, when they first came up, and besides noticing the hovering presence of a parent, he also noted the difference in how they approached hanging their signs.

    I hadn’t thought of it, but he’s worked retail recently and I have not.

    You aren’t allowed, now, to just hang things in windows and such like we once did. Especially since there are a lot more corporate-owned chains and less local businesses. I remember we used to be able to put up signs and notices and such all over, with a lot of places acting kind of like a community bulletin board. Now, there are “no soliciting” policies posted everywhere, with ordinances and fines mentioned where applicable, which do not allow for this sort of thing.

    I think it is one more symptom of how we have lost a sense of community. Now? I can be fined for posting a notice for something in my own apartment complex laundry room, or in the mail center.

  20. N December 23, 2010 at 12:01 am #

    The biggest difference was the technology! Kids would never be allowed by a printing press anymore.

    The mom following them in the second one obviously was the other difference.

    To the poster who was outraged that the phone number was shown in the newer one, it wans’t a real phone number. TV shows and movies commonly use numbers beginning with 555 because there are no real phone numbers with that prefix. I think that was learned after the 867-5309 Jenny fiasco.

  21. EricS December 23, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    @Stevie Taylor: I agree with the difference of the mother being there for the youngest child. She wasn’t with the other three when they were going around posting the sign. I think they just put her in there for the purpose of showing “family” doing something together. And obviously the technology. I absolutely agree with you “Now I will probably be slammed for being “lazy” and forcing my older kids to “babysit” their younger siblings. But to me, it’s not “babysitting”. It’s a pointed effort to make my children understand that in a family we learn to take care of each other and watch out for one another. Hopefully, in their their adult lives, that translates into taking care of others, too, and not always just worrying about themselves.”

    That’s how we did it when I was a kid. My sister (a year older) was in charge when our parents were at work, and we both watched our little brother (2 years younger). All of this started since I was 6. And it did teach us that family comes first, well into our adulthood. We are always there for each other.

    @maggie walkup: LOL! Seriously? Well one, that’s a fake number. All “555” numbers are for TV and Movies. Second, even in real life, why would you NOT leave a number? How else are they suppose to contact you? Are you sure your in the right place? We don’t do paranoia here. lol 😉

    @KLY: you make a valid point about freely posting in business windows, and the “lost sense of community”. It’s sad isn’t it.

  22. Carrie December 23, 2010 at 12:29 am #

    All I can say is if I were from another planet and had to pick which childhood was better, I’d choose the older clip. The kids are more independent, free, and seem to be enjoying the world. It’s strange how social norms shift and people don’t even seem to realize the things we’ve given up. I’ll take freedom and the excitement of really living over some sheltered, so-called safer protected life.

  23. Jules December 23, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who found the stroller to be odd. I usually take the advice in parenting magazines with a grain of salt, but there was one article about weaning your child off of certain objects that I liked. The particular object was the stroller, and it said (I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t have it anymore) “Unless your walk to pre-school is two miles (uphill! both ways!), there is no reason for an able-bodied child over the age of three to ride in a stroller.”
    That’s something I totally agree with. My daughter just turned three, and we pretty much stopped using the stroller this fall. I can’t remember the last time we did use it, and it’s collecting dust in our garage.

  24. LisaS December 23, 2010 at 12:47 am #

    Even in the 1970s kids weren’t allowed in press rooms unless they knew the printers well. my mom edited the newspaper (which was also the print shop), and that’s the way it worked. Officially, kids weren’t allowed, we were just back there after hours.

    I found two things striking in comparing the videos:

    One is how much more democratic things are now. Back in the 1970s, even if you knew the printer it would have cost money to have the graphic made into a plate and have flyers run. We would have handwritten/drawn all of those ourselves. In the 2000s, a couple of kids can put together a great flyer with a photo at very little cost using their public library.

    The other is how the mom in the second one stays out of the way. She’s there, and yes, it implies a loss of independence, but she’s also letting the kids do the work and handle all the interaction. She’s always in the background because society expects us parents to be there, not because our presence is really necessary.

  25. Joe December 23, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    The littlest kid was there only because the mom had to to drag him along while she supervised the older kids. There was probably another little brother in the first video but we never saw him because he was at home in the backyard eating dirt while the mom was in the house taking care of her business.

  26. Nanci December 23, 2010 at 1:02 am #

    Times have changed for sure. Last night I was watching a SNL Christmas special and thought of you Lenore. It was a bit from the 70’s where they were interviewing a guy who manufactured unsafe toys for children. He was selling things like a bag a glass and the like. The interviewer showed him some nice safe toys such as a kiddie play phone and suggested he make safe toys instead. I had to laugh when the interviewer picked up the toy phone and called it a safe toy even a baby could play with. Funny thing is it had one of those long spiral cords on it. Those things have been banned for years, yet in the 70’s they were “so safe even a baby could play with it”!

  27. Priscilla December 23, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Personally, I wasn’t bothered a bit by the mom’s presence. Who says that a mom wasn’t present in the first one? I think you are starting to read into things when you begin nitpicking about differences like these. The mother’s presence did not strike me as being helicopterish. Those little girls seemed pretty independent in creating the poster.

    I think the purpose of the video clip is to show a story about kids who lost a dog and how they were enterprising in being able to find it. Not much different than the first one after all.

  28. Melizzard December 23, 2010 at 1:16 am #

    Yes the difference is there but I think this one is a bit of nit-picking and a stretch to call out the producers on that.

    If they are going to the library to use the computer – they have to have an adult to be allowed access. At least in our town, children are not allowed on the computer at the library without adult supervision. (For the safety of the computers as much as anything else) And to clarify, yes children can come to the library and check out books with out an adult – just not use the computers. My kids go all the time – alone.

  29. Sara December 23, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    It’s subtle, but it seems they made sure to choose a photo of the DOG without KIDS in the photo……(which would actually get more people’s attention and appeal to their emotions of not wanting the kids to be sad)……BUT wouldn’t want those creepy peeps fantasizing about your kiddies……you just want their help to find your lost kitty……

  30. Another Tara December 23, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    Meh. I see the point you’re trying to make, but I think you’re overinterpreting it. There were plenty of clips from Sesame Street “back in the day” that showed families doing things together, and there are clips today that show kids doing things independently. Even Free Range parents do things with their kids sometimes, they’re not feral kids. Sesame Street shows how families really do things – together, apart, in different combinations.

    As for asking permission to hang signs: I managed a locally owned shop. We got dozens of requests to hang signs each week. It overwhelmed our window, and we couldn’t possibly hang them all. People wouldn’t have been able to see inside our store as they walked past, and foot traffic was critical to our business. So we collected all the signs people asked us to hang, decided on them individually every few days, and did not hang everything. I would have been quite peeved if someone had hung a sign without asking permission, and I would have called it defacement and ripped it down immediately even if it was something I sympathized with. Asking permission to hang a sign on someone else’s place of business is a basic courtesy. I would think that Free Range Parents would be concerned with teaching their children such courtesies to counter the public perception that children are unruly heathens who can’t be in public without handlers.

  31. Beth December 23, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    Fourth comment from the top, “Tara” says: “In a print shop with strange men”. What is that about? The men’s behavior is completely appropriate. Is it the absense of an adult female figure what automatically makes them “strange men?” It really says something about our current society if we don’t trust our men anymore and feel they need to be chaperoned by females whenever children are around.

  32. Erica December 23, 2010 at 1:47 am #

    There’s an easy explanation: older Sesame Street episodes aren’t suitable for children.

    1st & 2nd season Sesame Street DVDs contained a warning that said “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

  33. Duh December 23, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    The modern version doesn’t have white kids like the “good old days”.

  34. KarenElissa December 23, 2010 at 2:18 am #

    A couple of people have mentioned the stroller. I think that has more to do with the fact that they seem to live in an area where walking is the norm.

    Kids that age may get tired if they are out and about for long periods and are on the heavy side for carrying if it becomes a problem. He wasn’t in it that whole time and it one shot it looked like he was asleep.

    I know I’ve seen a number of “older” kids on the bus who have strollers and I don’t blame their parents, especially here which isn’t exactly public transportation friendly.

  35. Amanda H December 23, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    I loved the fact that in the second one they asked permission to hang the signs. I think it’s very free-range that they were speaking with non-parent adults (either “strangers” or adult community members who they know). We want kids and adults to be able to interact with each other as members of a community. We want them to get to know each other so that if they get a flat tire on their bike or they lose track of their backpack while out and about they know that members of their community are there to lend a hand.

  36. Priscilla December 23, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    And who’s to say that the mother doesn’t simply enjoy going to the library with her children. Perhaps she was in the picture book section with her youngest?

  37. kcs December 23, 2010 at 3:34 am #

    I’d say it’s a wash. In the old one the kids had more agency in the running around on their own bit, but in the modern one they totally created the poster on their own instead of having adults produce it for them.

  38. pentamom December 23, 2010 at 3:46 am #

    Beth — I think Tara was saying that was a contrast — “being with strange men” would be a big deal nowadays, then it wasn’t. Not that it was a bad thing.

    Duh — this is Sesame Street we’re talking about. They had plenty of non-white kids included even “back in the day.” I remember noticing it when I was a kid (and Sesame Street began exactly when I was at prime SS age) and thinking, “There are a lot of black and Spanish looking kids in this, which I’m not used to seeing. I guess that’s because in that city there are more black people than around here.” Which was exactly the situation — Sesame Street was an urban world that was different from where I grew up.

    This one didn’t have non-white kids. I hope it’s not a problem that they actually did make some spots with white kids.

    I agree it’s good they show the kids asking permission in this one, but I also wonder if it was more likely several decades ago that people (at least in some places) were free to just use public places like that, and it was understood that it was fine. Having lived through that era I wouldn’t be surprised. So the kids “back then” weren’t being rude, it was just an accepted thing to do. Dunno.

  39. Mthousemama December 23, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    Watching the 1st video I remembered all the lessons I learned during my history of Graphic design class. There was a typeface company that had all those letters in storage and when it went out of business most of the letters and thus the typeface got sold as scrape. We lost a lot of typefaces…

    Times are different, it would have been nice to see the kids in the 2nd video w/o a parent but its not like the mom did all the work, the kids did she was just there with the LO.

    I also agree with the thought that kids at a certain age have to walk. I went to the san diego zoo with a 5 yr, 3 yr and 18month old and one of my non mom friends thought I should get a stroller for the two older ones. I was like, if they get really tired they can sit in the stroller I have for a bit or we can rest. They are old enough to walk.

  40. Donna December 23, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    I agree that Sesame Street sometimes shows families doing stuff together and that is great. This skit, however, did NOT show a family doing something together. It showed 2 kids making and hanging posters while mom supervised and little brother tagged along. I don’t think anyone would have commented at all if mom was working with the kids but she was just hovering in the backgeound, not interacting with the older kids at all. It was clear that she was there to supwrvis

  41. Donna December 23, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    That should read “supervise.”

    Remember this is a tv show. In real life we could guess that maybe the mom just wanted to get out or that the kids needed mom present to use a computer at the library. But in the fictional world of Sesame Street, the mother and brother were purposely put in the skit because the writers and producers wanted them there doing just what they were doing. Characters on tv have no purpose other than what is seen and kids on tv don’t need parents permission to make fake posters on fake computers at the library. The writers and producers specifically wanted to show the mother supervising the kids or she wouldn’t have been there doing what she was doing.

  42. Jane December 23, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    The best thing about these 2 clips is the impact that Apple has had on how we desktop publish now. The iMac was released around late 90s but before this with the MacClassic in 84 was the first time you could desktop publish with fonts change the sizes and print yourself. This was incredibly revolutionary and started changes in how we communicate. Loved seeing the old printing press but realistically not many kids back then would have used a printer.
    But on the other side it’s obvious that pre computer printing we definitely made more things ourselves-birthday cards posters etc plus we actually wrote letters and decorated envelopes. I was always trying to get my kids to actually paint draw or collage a card when they were younger…definite loss in hands-on-creativity now. I’ve seen this as an art high school teacher.

  43. pentamom December 23, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    “Remember this is a tv show. In real life we could guess that maybe the mom just wanted to get out or that the kids needed mom present to use a computer at the library. But in the fictional world of Sesame Street, the mother and brother were purposely put in the skit because the writers and producers wanted them there doing just what they were doing.”

    Brilliantly put, Donna! Characters in a skit aren’t there because they have their own needs, they’re there because they are representing something that the writer wants to be seen. In this case, the writers wanted the kids to be seen being escorted by their mom. What was the initiative of two kids 40 years ago, is now a family project.

  44. Dawn Ryan December 23, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    The thing i noticed in both videos was the lack of courtesy, as mentioned in earlier comments. Courtesy in asking to hang the posters in the first one, and in thanking the women who returned the dogs — most notably in the second one, as the first one ended more abruptly. I at least expected to see the mom’s legs walk over to the returning woman’s legs, since she’d obviously go to thank her, but no.

  45. Erin December 23, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    @maggie walkup — I think everyone missed your massive sarcasm on the kidnapping comment!! 😉

    I miss the old Sesame Streets — they were way better than what is on now! I recently rewatched the first ever Sesame Street (including the silly “this is for adults” disclaimer) and the only thing I found issue with was the fact that the kids were playing follow the leader through a construction site that didn’t necessarily look that safe, but other than that it was fine!!

  46. pentamom December 23, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    I don’t think it’s necessary to conclude in either case that they didn’t thank the lady who returned the dog. They just showed 5-10 seconds of the kids’ joyful reunion with the dog — it doesn’t show an end of an interaction WITHOUT the thanks being given. Granted (per Donna’s point above) they could have shown it to make the point, but there are time constraints. It might have been better to show the thanking, but you can’t conclude an absence of thanking because the thing ends right after they first meet up with the dog.

    I do agree it’s fairly plain in the first one that they didn’t ask permission to post the sign — they just walk down the street until they come to the window and attach the sign.

  47. Jen Connelly December 23, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    I just wanted to say that the first clip is one of my all time favorites from Sesame Street. I remember watching that one with great interest…about the printing press. Such good memories.

    My kids don’t even watch Sesame Street any more. I find today’s version to be beyond annoying. I don’t even have PBS programed into their list of stations because all the shows annoy me.

  48. KLY December 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    Heh… at one point, I thought the fact that I found all of the modern shows to be annoying was a sign that I was getting old or something…

    Right up until my daughter (still quite young at the time) happened to sit down and watch some “old school” stuff with me and asked “Mum, how come kids shows and cartoons weren’t stupid when you were a kid?”

  49. bmj2k December 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Much ado about nothing. Granted there is a mother in the second clip, but she is really negligible. I like the second clip better because the kids actually made the signs themselves.

  50. Myriam December 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    What is it with this sniffy attitude towards strollers? I used to get comments about my 3-year-old in one, once from someone in a car! Why is it OK for you to drive your child places but not me to push my child places in a stroller? No one in my household could drive then and I used to spend hours walking every day rain sun or snow. There’s no logic to it, it’s merely the latest arbitrary thing for some parents to feel superior to others over.

  51. Mrs Embers December 23, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    I was waiting for a big “WHAT?!” moment when I watched the second clip, and didn’t have one. I didn’t see it as being that different. Yes, their mom is there, but given the number of parents who would have complained if she *wasn’t* there, I think they did a good job of showing kids taking charge of a project, using their own ideas and carrying out their plans themselves, even if the mom had to be there in the background to make it OK for helicopter parents. It does show a change in the expectations people have about what’s shown to kids on TV (though Dora still seems to do alright on her own), but I thought it was going to be about kids letting parents do everything for them, so I was pleasantly surprised.

    It was great to see the old clip- I remember that so well from when I was a kid! I love how the printer says “dog.” I’m impressed that the woman could recognize the dog from the poster. 🙂

  52. Kim December 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm #

    I think the second clip is just fine. The mom didn’t hover over them, didn’t get involved in making the sign or hanging it up. I don’t think there is anything at all wrong with her accompanying them. I don’t think free range parenting means that your kids have to be alone all the time. Perhaps they were sharing a family moment. I can imagine in the first clip, the mother hanging out at the house puffing on a cigarette while her kids were out looking for their dog. I think this is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  53. Robin December 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    I have to wonder if in the first video they didn’t show the kids asking the store owners if it was okay to hang the posters because it was assumed that they would, but now they need to tell them to…

  54. Beth December 23, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    Myriam, amen. I’ve never understood stroller-hate either.

  55. Erika Evans December 23, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    Duh–No way. Old Sesame Street is VERY multiethnic, presenting kids and adults of all races going about their business without comment or smug back-patting. One of the things I love about it.

  56. Brooke December 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    I get the sentiment but the second clip wasn’t that terrible. The kids did create the poster on their own and the mom wasn’t hovering over them. They also spoke to the shop owners instead of their mother doing it for them. When I worked at an ice cream shop a few years ago, I found lots of children that were completely incapable of telling me that they want a scoop of chocolate on a cone so I did appreciate that.

    Mom wasn’t Free Range but she also wasn’t a helicopter either.

  57. Donna December 24, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    Saying that the second clip is okay because the mom wasn’t hovering is the same argument that helicopter parents use about refusing to let kids go to the park by themselves – they don’t need to go by themselves because I don’t hover. It kinda misses the point that kids don’t need an adult present within sight at all times.

    And I guess you all have a different idea of “family moment.” I consider it a “family moment” if I’m actually interacting with my child – playing with her, talking to her, teaching her something or enjoying an activity together. I don’t define taking my child to the library and letting do her own thing while I look on as a “family moment.” If the writers had wanted to show a “family moment,” mom would’ve been interacting with the kids. They could have easily wrote this as a skit of the whole family actively working to find the lost family dog. They didn’t. They intentionally chose to show kids doing stuff but only under the supervision of an adult.

  58. KLY December 24, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    I have to agree with Donna on the “family moment” thing.

    As someone else pointed out, in a video clip like this, nothing is there if not for a reason. The directors/producers of the segment put it together with all the details you see, on purpose. Chances are they did not even consciously think about the presence of the mother all that deeply. That is why it is a detail worth noting. No, it may not be a huge point of Outrage, but it shows the subtle shift in the “norm”. The mother is there because that is what is expected now.

    And that expectation is also what is holding a lot of people back from allowing their kids to venture out of their sight. Now, a mother is expected to pack up any younger siblings, take time away from anything she might need to be doing around the house if she’s a SAHM, and automatically accompany her kids wherever they need or want to go. For those who want to say “Well, maybe it is just something they are all doing together,” you could “imagine” in the other direction, too, if you wanted to assign motivations beyond what they were directed to do on camera. Maybe she had a mountain of laundry needing to be done, a dinner she needed to prepare, some freelance work she needed to email about and a small child who gets really cranky when his normal nap schedule is disrupted; only she also had two young kids who missed their dog and wanted to Do Something Right Now and she felt there was no way she could allow them to go anywhere without her watching them. Assigning motivations could lead to all sorts of “maybes”.

    One way or another, it shows a shift in how what is “normal” is purposely portrayed, which was the point here.

    Oh, and the stroller thing. Really? My child, when small, was a kamikaze traffic dart. I have friends who have some that make my little run-for-the-hills daredevil look sedate. We’ve all faced the veiled (or not) disapproving comments and looks from people who are Anti-Stroller. I just laughed. When walking with the child in an area where traffic was an issue and she was still too young to totally know better… she got strapped in.
    I also took it along for when things I needed to do interrupted nap time. I’d rather push a sleeping child than deal with Overtired Nighttime Horror.

    Actually, I horrified everyone I knew, because I actually used one of the Kid Leashes, for overly crowded places and insane parking lots. This, apparently, made me some kind of monster. The kiddo, however, just knew that I would let her walk so we didn’t have to have the usual display of toddler Stubborn Independence, and then once we were out of areas where she could get hit by large moving vehicles I would unsnap it.

    After mine was just about past stroller age anyways, someone told me that one of the big objections to strollers is that “kids face away from you, causing them to feel too alone and abandoned.”

    I laughed ’til I cried at that one. (Anytime we were out, my daughter made it clear from infancy that she was bored with my face and wanted a change of scenery. She hated not seeing what was going on.)

  59. Myrna December 24, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    Yes, in the first clip the kids were doing it all on their own, but I see that as how the attitude toward animals have changed.
    When I grew up in the ’70s, the pets lived outside, and they were there for the amusement of the children. Back then, if a pet got lost or sick, parents did not take heroic measures to save them.
    Today, pets live indoors and are part of the family. When my old dog (who I have had before having children) got lost, I was very worried for her (because unlike kids, she does not know how to cross a street safely) and the whole family went out to look for her.

  60. pentamom December 24, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    “After mine was just about past stroller age anyways, someone told me that one of the big objections to strollers is that “kids face away from you, causing them to feel too alone and abandoned.”

    It is to laugh. One of my chief complaints about walking with my kids is that I wind up walking all alone as they run ahead as much as possible, causing the whole affair to become rather irritating and boring to me. So walking for walking’s sake isn’t something we do much as a family (though that’s not to say we don’t do active things together.)

  61. Teri December 24, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I agree with Beth. The print shop guys aren’t “strange men.” They may be men who happen to also be strangers, but I don’t think so. The man setting the type seemed to have a nice relationship with the little girl. Maybe mom or dad has visited the print shop a time or two before with the kids and the guys know the family. Maybe (gasp) they’re just nice people!

  62. Matt L. December 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    You know, watching these reminds me of how much the ideal childhood rests outside of the child’s own home. when I was growing up in the 80s I watched Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow and plenty of other shows that had a more urban setting. This created a kind of cognative dissonance because unlike these characters I did not walk anywhere. I did not look for outside resources to do things (we were really lucky to have computers before many friends). As a lone exception, at 12 it was decided I was old enough to walk to a local convenience store (which was on a very stark dividing line between public housing and a wealthy neighborhood)for random errands but that was it.

    The mother (or caregiver) accompanied them on the trip but what I applaud is that she did not say a word. The kids had to ask to hang signs (a good move) and the whole thing is ostensibly their idea. The stroller thing does not bother me. I have not gotten to the 3 yr old stage yet so I can only guess that it is unreasonable to ask a 3 yr old to walk the significant distances and take the time it would to do this type of job right. For example, I would probably cover an area that is around a 5 block radius to my building, this means hitting every coffeee shop and other bulletin board type place around. I did something similar last week, I walked a total of 40 city blocks and spent 3 hours. I would probably bring a stroller for a 3 yr old even if it was just to save time.

  63. Matt L. December 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    but, yes, I agree that it was unnecessary for the little brother and mom to be along. They didn’t do anything! what a waste of money on actors…

  64. Aimee December 29, 2010 at 2:43 am #

    Despite the obnoxious marketing of all things Sesame Street (Tickle Me Elmo), the show itself is part of a non-profit organization, and is aired on a non-profit television station. So, it’s unlikely that any of the people on camera got paid anything at all to participate in the video shoot (I am a television producer). They just did it cause it’s fun. And that’s okay, because it IS fun.

    We might guess, though, that the mother insisted she be in the shot with the kids, rather than just hanging out behind camera with the 3-yr-old. Or worse yet, that the 3-yr-old whined that he wasn’t being included, and mom refused to wheel him off far enough away that he wasn’t destroying the work (because that would mean her children were alone with shady TV types she just met that morning – like me, a mom to a 9-yr-old), so they chucked Mom and Stroller Kid in to appease everyone. Especially Stroller Kid.

    This stuff is way less “hidden agenda” and way more “let’s get this done, TODAY, because I have one day with a videographer, everyone showed up, and it’s not raining.” I’ve shot this type of thing and gotten to post-production editing, seen the b-roll shots I’ve gotten, and said, “Aw crap, I didn’t shoot one single shot without mom in the GD picture. What was I thinking? Well, I gotta use what I’ve got, cause I’ve got no budget or time for a re-shoot.”

    What I noticed in the opening shot of the 2nd film was that the older kids seemed to be practically clinging to the sides of mom/stroller. They have this wide shot, but everyone is all squished together. Are they too frightened to walk down this friendly neighborhood street unless they are in physical contact with their mom?

    Lastly, it is sad that we’ve eliminated highly-skilled, artful, decent-paying professions like printing (yeah, the “strange men”) and instead have a society of desktop publishing. At least the printers knew how to set stuff up, spelled correctly, spaced correctly, without having dumb-it-down tools.


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