I just read an interview with Tom Hanks who plays Fred Rogers in the movie, it was just a joy to read. Tom talks about the moment that made him “ball his eyes out”. Tom was not a Mr. Rogers fan growing up, he says he was too busy watching Rocky and Bullwinkle. A friend sent him a video tape of the show where Fred is talking with a young boy in a wheelchair named Jeffrey Erlanger.
Tom remarks – “Fred is just so wonderfully gentle and present with someone who normally would make most people feel uncomfortable, what do you say to someone who will spend their life in a wheelchair?”. In that interview Fred asks Jeffrey “do you ever have days when you are feeling sad?” Jeff responds “well sure Mister Rogers. Some days…but not today!” After talking for awhile Fred commended Jeffrey for his ability to discuss his condition and help other people do the same. After that they both sang “Its you I like” and this is what brought Tom to tears (me too). If you would like to watch the clip I put it at the end of the blog.
Fred was looking into the child’s eyes and totally focused of him. That is my goal as a child therapist; to look into the child’s eyes and have them know that I honor who they are and take pleasure in them. In those moments as a child feels safe they often whisper little bits of information like “ I listen at my parents door when they fight at night” or “Billy says if I tell he will kill my parents”. They can trust me with their secrets. Then of course I help them and their parents with solutions.
Fred is such a role model, here are some of my favorite quotes from Mister Rogers:
“In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinkling’s are what eternity is made of — moments when we human beings can say ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m proud of you,’ ‘I forgive you,’ ‘I’m grateful for you”.
“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
“It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.”
“It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are. Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true: What we are ultimately determines what we do!”
I watched the PBS program with Mr. Rogers clips but I have not seen the Tom Hanks movie yet. I plan to take our family, and then discuss it around the table. There are lots of lessons yet to be learned. Thanks Mr. Rogers!