My first encounter with the PBS Kids‘ show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood was this past fall when the TV show aired. I was so excited when I heard the theme song start and I recognized the tune from the beloved Mr. Rogers Neighborhood of my childhood. My four-and-a-half year old son loved the show from that first episode and we have been avid Daniel Tiger watchers since. I, however, have a bone to pick with Mr. Tiger, and perhaps you do too.
It all started out innocently; Brennan, my son, came dashing into the kitchen excitedly. “Mom! Mom! Can we make banana squirrel?” he asked. Maybe you’re thinking the same thing that I was thinking, “What on God’s green Earth is banana squirrel?” I asked him what he was talking about and this brought on an entire litany of actions and descriptions; the only thing that I could really make out of it was that he had seen this banana squirrel thing on Daniel Tiger. My answer was easy as we had just run out of bananas that morning. I had hoped that he would forget about it the next day but you know the saying about an elephant never forgetting anything? The same can be said of a four year old child. On and on the banana squirrel mystery began to haunt me, day in and day out. “Let’s make banana squirrel Mommy! It’s easy, you should take a banana and do this,” he would gesture making a circle, “and then you eat it.” Oh sure, it’s easy. I just could not figure out why this thing my child wanted to eat was called banana squirrel!
Frustrated I headed to good old Google. Turns out that I wasn’t the only baffled parent trying to figure out how to appease their child’s banana squirrel obsession. I learned from my research that what Brennan was actually asking for was a concoction called “banana swirl.”
My second encounter with Mr. Tiger is what I prefer to call the Valentine’s Tantrum of 2013. We were enjoying Valentine’s Day quietly, munching on chocolate and talking about ways to show people that we loved them. Quiet time came around and I was really looking forward to putting my feet up and drinking some afternoon coffee. The quietness broke just after 1:30pm when, you guessed it, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood ended. “Mommy! We have to make banana bread! That’s how you show people you love them,” Brennan informed me. The gesture was sweet and would have been wonderful to do, however, I hadn’t been to the grocery store and we were fresh out of eggs. I explained this to Brennan and then Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Arms flailing, yelling in frustration, my determined son ranted and raged about my lack of preparation. How could I have known that today, of all days, Daniel would learn that “making something is one way to say, ‘I love you?'” Why had I not gone out to the store in anticipation of this valuable lesson from my favorite little tiger?
I didn’t have the manual. Simply put, while I love the lessons, songs, and ideas that this little tiger’s TV show brings into my home I often feel like I need an instruction manual to go along with it. Never fear, Mama, before you “feel so mad that you want to roar” just take a deep breath and head on over to the PBS website. Why? Well, the smart folks over at Daniel Tiger have created a handy dandy parents’ guide website full of ideas as well as the lyrics to the songs and games that are played during every episode. Don’t let your little one get frustrated while you stupidly (okay the stupid part is really only pertaining to me since I’m certain you’ve probably figured this out already) try to figure out what squirrels have to do with bananas; go straight to the instruction manual. Then you won’t have to count to four. (Any of you who are avid Daniel Tiger watchers will get that reference!)