Friday, May 2, 2008

Everything I need to know I learned from Captain Kangaroo

By Lonnie Cruse

I confess, I'm one of those pathetic parents who continued to watch Captain Kangaroo daily, even AFTER my youngest child went happily off to school. I couldn't bear the quietness of the house and we didn't have cable back then, so the Captain and Mr. Green Jeans kept me company while I mopped and dusted and tried not to miss the three charming little fellas who'd been whisked away in the big yellow bus for the day. A lot of famous people popped up on the screen to wish the Captain a good morning, making it even more interesting to watch. And I always thought Cosmo Alegretti was kinda cute.

Sometimes the Captain would have an attack of the giggles over something another character did on the show, which, of course, set me to giggling as well. He entertained, but he educated at the same time, and the show ran continuously for over twenty-nine years, so they must have been doing something right.

Along with the rest of the world, I learned about Kinkajous and prehensile tails. Stuff every parent needs to know, right? And I watched and snickered as the characters played tricks on one another, like Mr. Moose using knock-knock jokes to trick the Captain into saying the words that triggered the zillion ping-pong balls dumped on his head. Or Mr. Bunny managing to snag carrots from the unsuspecting Captain.

Way back then, the Captain worried (off-camera, of course) about the amount of time children spent in front of the TV before they were old enough to go off to school. Imagine how much that viewing time has increased by now! There are a lot more quality programs for children these days, but there is also a lot more trash. And I read somewhere that babies can't differentiate between the live humans in the room with them and the humans on television. They see faces, so they assume that person is actually right there, and that what they are watching is reality. Interesting. Possibly scary.

Yesterday my youngest child turned the BIG FOUR-OH, which set me to reminising about children and childhood and my "friend" Captain Kangroo. We sent our son a really nice birthday gift. We also sent black balloons because unfortunately I couldn't figure out a way to dump ping-pong balls on him from this distance. And we called and sang off-key to his voice mail several days in a row. I can't imagine why, but he's threatening to move to a different state (without leaving a forwarding address) and change his name. I asked what his new name would be, but we raised him too well, and he's far to smart to fall for that one.

More than anything, I've learned how fast the time flies, particularly when you're having fun. How quickly children grow up, leaving mom behind to watch their favorite show all by herself, and fight the tears, and wonder where the time went.

Have you hugged your kids today? Better yet, do you have access to a zillion ping-pong balls? Just a thought.

(Moose clipart from


Sharon Wildwind said...

I loved Captain Kangaroo, and I might have just had the slightest crush on Mr. Green Jeans. I mean, he could grow things, which I thought was SO COOL.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Hehe, as I said, my crush was on Cosmo. Sigh.

Julia Buckley said...

That's sweet, Lonnie. And I still love the kids' shows, too--I feel very nostalgic about them, although I miss Mr. Rogers more than Cap Kangaroo.

Congrats to your son, and thanks for reminding me to appreciate mine.