Grow Up! Don't Grow Up!

Cary McNeal
18

The other night I was flipping channels on the TV, looking in vain for some non-reality show to watch, when I heard a familiar theme song and stopped in my tracks.

In the place where we belong,
Where we'll prob'ly sing a song,
And we'll maybe dance along.



First day of kindergarten
A warm, gooey, nostalgic feeling poured over me like hot caramel over a fudge brownie. I knew the song, and I knew what was next.

We've got the whole wide world in our yard to explore
We always find things we've never seen before.
That's why every day we're back for more
With your friends, the Backyardigans.

Ah, The Backyardigans, a show on Nick, Jr. that my daughter and I watched together almost every morning for several years, starting when she was 4. There were a couple of other shows we liked, too, but nothing reminds me of her toddler years quite like the Backyardigans and that opening song. I am instantly transported back in time when I hear it, a time when she would sit in my lap for the entire 27 minutes as we watched the show, sucking her thumb as I stroked and kissed her hair before we had to get ready for school and get going.

I'll admit it -- I miss those days. I'm sure you do, too. It's a cliché, but oh so true: they grow up so fast. Too fast.

My child will be 9 in a couple of months, and now she likes junk like Hannah Montana and iCarly and The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody, and it's just not the same. The kids on these shows are hip, savvy, snarky, even world-weary at times. They look like kids but talk like adults. I don't like that, probably because I know my daughter is headed that way, too. One day I'll blink and she'll be graduating from high school, ready for adulthood.

What's funny is that I remember telling her more than once, "You need to grow up." Behave in school. Stop whining when Mom or Dad asks you to clean up your room. Use a fork, not your fingers. Don't throw a tantrum when you don't get your way. You're a big girl; act like one. Grow up.

Now I look at her and see a big girl, indeed, one who's almost as tall as her mother, who's smart and sassy and picks out her own clothes and knows all the words to all the songs on the radio. I want to scream, "Don't grow up! You're growing up too fast!" When they're born we silently vow to savor every moment of their childhood, but we don't. We can't; it's not possible. Life gets in the way too much.

I mentioned to my daughter how I came across The Backyardigans on TV, fully expecting her to have the same fond memories I had of those days. She didn't.

"Don't you remember sitting in bed and watching it? We did it every morning."

"I guess so." She was placating me so I would un-pause the DVR and let her finish Spongebob.

"How about I record some Backyardigans for us to watch again?" I asked.

She gave me the look. You know the one. Like you're an idiot.

"That show is for babies."

Maybe so. But that's why I like it.

Read More