10-21-2014 06:00 am

Say it Ain't So, Snuffy!

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Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? Today the children’s Television Workshop announced the launch of a new episode of Sesame Street that- 44 years after the beloved PBS staple’s premiere- addresses the subject of divorce. WHAT, you say, aghast, they haven’t done that yet? Weren’t all of our parents divorced in the 70s when we were glued to the screen, gleefully reeling off our numbers with the Count, and hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Snuffleupagus, wondering if he was but a paranoid figment of Big Bird’s neurotic imagination? Wait, you may ask, didn’t Sesame Street address catastrophes such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, showing Big Bird’s storm-tossed nest, soothing the fears of a nation’s worried children? Yes, Sesame Street did- with great sensitivity- handle those issues, along with the death of old Mr. Hooper, the cranky but kindly neighborhood grocer, in 1982, when the actor who played him died. Recently, we've even discussed giving Bert and Ernie the right to get married- not that there's anything wrong with that! But until now, Sesame Street has not taken on divorce, despite the fact that 50% of children live in so-called “broken” homes or single-parent homes. Is divorce still so scary and taboo that even Sesame Street can’t bear to talk about it? They tried once, in 1992, screening an episode about the breakup of Mr. & Mrs. Snuffleupagus’s marriage on a test audience of children who went completely berserk at the thought. The prospect of Snuffy’s father moving out- to “some cave across town”- freaked kids out so badly that the CTW kiboshed the episode. And now, to much fanfare, Sesame Street has filmed an episode in which the character Abby Cadabby’s parents are splitting up. This anecdote speaks to our worst fears as mothers about what will happen to our children if we get divorced. Children freaking out badly is exactly what I was afraid of when I was considering divorcing the husband who made my life hell. I looked at my then two-year old son and thought, how can I ever do this to him? How can I put him- and his sister- in the position I, as a Prince Valiant-coiffed child of the 70s- suffered through? Growing up as a child of divorce, though I was far from alone, defined my identity in ways I still am far from over, even today, as an adult. Normalizing the experience would have made me feel better, and what could have made it more normal than it happening on Sesame Street? If Sesame Street is afraid to even talk about it, how can I actually DO it? Oh my God, it will positively ruin my children’s lives, BLUBBITY BLUBBITY BLUBBITY *strumming lip* Is divorce really so terrifying to children that it- literally- is a fate worse than death, terrorist attack, or natural disaster? And, if it is, how do we ever go through with it, no matter how miserable we are? Let’s hope poor Abby Cadabby doesn’t get knocked up at the age of 15, or get an inappropriate navel piercing from a sketchy, unlicensed guy with an unclean stall in St. Mark’s Place, or require twice-weekly shrink appointments that preclude the possibility of her playing soccer at the only school out of the nine she applied to, because her SSAT scores were low because she was preoccupied by anxiety and ADD, probably caused by the divorce!!!!!

  • children, sesame street, divorce
  • Category: Kids

Martin Capeletto, kyle, Zoe Migel and 1 other commented on this Post