Sesame Street: Danger on Steroids!

Oh Readers — Remember when this was not a subversive, watch out, don’t EVER let this happen to your children video? When kids could ride around, get lost, ask for help, talk to strangers and have adventures without anyone accusing the parents (or PBS) of being negligent, crazy, or worse? 

44 Responses

  1. Wow. Blast from the past. I forgot all about this. I bet this one doesn’t make the usual run on Sesame Street anymore, huh?

  2. Love it! And oh the familiar voices!

    Dealing with being lost is actually a current theme in our house and we have grand plans to start hunting “location clues” whenever we are downtown. Living out in the country I figure I better make a special effort to teach the kids how to navigate in a “city.” learning to be aware of your surroundings is a huge part of maturing and keeping safe in any environment. Haven’t formalized it yet, but there will be clues, challenges, prizes and eventually solo adventures.

    The less free-range of their parents needs assurance I don’t mean solo adventures TOMORROW, which I can provide. But when they’re ready, oh yeah.😀

  3. If that were to air today, some idiot parent group would be arguing that PBS and CTW are promoting acid use in children.

  4. A. That is seriously trippy! LOL!

    B. This is why my kids only watch Sesame Street Old School on DVD. Obviously more free-range, but also actually CREATIVE and funny and artistic and awesome and lots of footage of kids being out in the natural environment without adults standing over them directing their every move–as opposed to the new episodes which boil down to celebrity cameos to try to get parents’ attention and shilling for marketable characters (Elmo overload, anyone?).

  5. Wow. I remember this so vividly. Thanks for posting.

  6. Being lost in such a “Pepperland-ish” place can’t be all bad. All kids can sing so they can certainly handle any Blue Meanie that comes along.
    “All Together Now alltogethernow All Together Now alltogethernow…” OMG; did I just turn 53 yesterday or what??!!!
    And seriously, all kids can think (despite what their parents tell them) so they can handle anything else as well.

  7. We’ve got some of the Sesame Street Old School discs. What’s hilarious is that there’s a parental warning on the really early ones (from the late 60’s). Apparently, the hard core depictions of self-sufficient children is some sort of radical hippy nonsense. Or possibly just Free Range.

  8. Actually, Will, it has to do with some of the acrobatics depicted that are apparently done in an unsafe way, they don’t want kids copying them.

  9. learning to be aware of your surroundings is a huge part of maturing and keeping safe in any environment.

    I once got co-opted into going around with a friend-of-a-friend and her kid for a few days to help make her more independent. (Yes, this is an adult woman.)

    The short-term goal was to go a few places with her so she could figure out how to get there herself and feel comfortable doing so.

    It was hard going, though, when as I said to her on the bus “This is our stop!” (and I’d already explained, because she’s unused to the bus, that she can just ask the driver to let her off at the correct stop) and she asked “Well, how do you know?”

    What do I even say to that? “Well, I know because it looks like our stop, and there’s a big pile of salt out in the front, so it’s hard to confuse with anywhere else, and we’ve been on the bus long enough….”

    I mean, I have my problems with getting lost. I have some form of spatial agnosia, which roughly means that places that ought to look familiar to me often don’t. (I literally once got lost right outside of my own home. No, this isn’t “something everybody has”.) But even I couldn’t fathom “How do you know this is our stop?”

  10. This is the one that I love – we say it all of the time!
    A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter

    she let her daughter walk to the store by herself!

  11. I’ve written it before in comments, if a child is in trouble, the *BEST* thing they can do is – ask a stranger for help.

  12. Free Range or not, this sketch scared the pants off me as a child. I think it was the freaky animation more than the concept of being lost. It is still kind of bizarre!!!!

  13. Early one morning as my son and I was checking out of a hotel, I noticed a tiny little girl in jammies running around the lobby. We went to eat breakfast and after recognizing my son from the pool the day before, the child came up to our table. I got her some milk and a muffin and asked her what her parents were doing. She grinned and told me they were ‘night night’. We finished our breakfast, cleared the table and then walked the child back to her room where the door was still opened. I knocked on the door, waking her parents then sent her back in and shut the door behind her.

    I can’t imagine their terror but the fact is, she made it back and was perfectly safe. Think about what a great story the parents had after they got over the heart failure.

  14. CJ – as someone who got the heebie jeebies from the cat in Alice and Wonderland – I totally hear you. I had a very odd internal monologue during the clip something like: woah that is too trippy! Wait I don’t want my kid to be attracted to the colorful clown-like person CLOWNS ARE ALL EVIL” then I needed a drink. Anyone else have issues with clowns? Not the real kind of safety issues but for some unidentifiable reason I have a really uneasy feeling about clowns. Nearly killed my addiction to chicken mcnuggets.

  15. Deanna K,

    Thanks for posting that video. It was one of my favorites from Sesame Street when I was little.

  16. Me, too. I love “I can remember.”

  17. Coffeegod: Maybe her parents knew she was up and knew she would be safe? Why would you bring her back and wake them up if she was perfectly fine getting breakfast on her own? Not having been there I cant really tell what is going on but instead of “terror” and “heart failure” maybe they were annoyed because a busy body (admittedly one “just trying to help)” woke them up instead of letting their kid get breakfast for herself like she does every day at home.

  18. If my child had wandered out of the hotel room while my husband and I were asleep, I would be grateful to the stranger who brought her back safely. I certainly wouldn’t think of him or her as a busybody.

  19. My brother once got lost on a biking expedition around our new neighborhood shortly after we had moved. He would have been about 7 at the time. For weeks afterward he would point out places that he had been “that time I was lost”–some of them wildly unlikely as they were miles and miles away from our home. It got to be sort of a standing joke in our family. Even today, 30 years later, one of us might comment “This place looks familiar” and another of us will responsd, “Were you here that time you were lost??”

  20. Brian – I got a different take, it sounds like she was very young given that her explanation of her parents being asleep as “night night.” I’m sure you know they age – old enough “to be dangerous” meaning having the skills and ability to wander out of a hotel room but maybe not the complete awareness of surroundings. So if my kid were at that stage I would likely want to at least know they were out of the room.

    Had the child articulated to me “they know where I am and I have permission to be here” my first reaction would not be to drag them back to the room. But given the info above it sounds like it was appropriate and prudent.

  21. being lost is not this kid’s problem. his mom needs to talk to him about his drug problem, though!

  22. Far out! That segment always creeped me out– what’s with the “plastic house” with the weird face? What neighborhood is THAT??

  23. http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/12/15/after_dozens_of_deaths_drop_side_cribs_outlawed/

    The production of drop side cribs has been prohibited. They’re “deadly”. Apparently.

    Now, I don’t want to belittle the suffering of anybody who has lost a child in any way, but approximately 42 deaths in ten years, ten years during which most infants and toddlers eventually slept in a crib with drop sides, does not really sound “deadly” to me. That’s less than 5 deaths a year – and yes, more children die in car accidents every day.

  24. Loved this clip as a kid! One of my favorites! I do have to say, though, seeing it as an adult, much like seeing Fantasia as an adult, and knowing how much I loved both, (the Cheshire Cat too, by the by, was my FAVE character in Alice in Wonderland) did help me understand some of my, ahem, choices in later youth. LOL
    And oh how much more I enjoy the old-school Sesame, with its parental warnings and wandering kids.
    I’m 44. I was raised by a really old (58 when she got me… I was an infant) grandmother. She taught me by kindergarten how to cross the 4 lane main road behind our house – get across the first two lanes, wait in the middle on the double yellow if you need for the opposite direction to clear, then proceed – so that I could go to the U-Totem store on the other side for milk and bread and eggs. Before Kindergarten. I also walked to and from school every day from the first day of Kindy until the end of 6th grade. In Denver. Snow, 90 degrees… whatever. It was a mile, and I walked it from 5 on.
    But oh! The pre-Elmo Sesame. The days of Snuffy being Big Bird’s ‘invisible’ friend! My kids totally didn’t believe me about that until I rented the DVDs. Some days, I really love technology.

  25. This is much scarier than any of the Christmas specials! That guy is way creepy!

  26. Maybe I am off on this one. To explain, my read was based on the kid being old enough to wake up without waking up parents and managing to open and close the door to a strange hotel room quietly. I cant wake up and get out of a dark hotel room without waking up my wife so I figured the kid must have been a bit older. 🙂.

    Uly, I cant tell you how relieved I am that the government is banning drop side cribs. Now maybe they can get on to banning guns which kill 3,000 to 5,000 kids a year.

  27. Re the little girl in the lobby: At her apparent age, she might wander out into traffic or slip into the hotel kitchen under somebody’s elbow and get burned. So, yes, I’d be grateful if somebody brought her back.

    Re Sesame Street, the modern version annoys me so much that I only let the kids watch it when somebody is sick on the couch. The old school DVDs might be a good buy sometime though.

  28. Brian,

    She was about two, maybe two and half. The parents were still sound asleep when we got back to the room. The ‘OMG, how did you get OUT???’ from the still half-asleep mom kinda sealed the deal for me. My kid was an amazing sneak at that age. Remind me to tell you the tale of the missing salt and pepper shakers sometime.

    And as far as being a busybody, well, I’ll take the label. I was raised in a neighborhood where all the parents knew every child’s business. I’d like to see a return to that.

  29. It’s nothing new under the sun that things are made these days with inferior materials. I’m sure that also means that cribs were sturdier in the old days. And I don’t see kids dying due to crummy cribs the same as dying in car accidents. Perhaps they will come up with a safe drop rail during the ban. Sorry, I’m not into dead babies, no matter how low the number.

  30. Uly – while I often get frustrated by the idea that a few problems lead to wide recalls I am also encouraged to know that through a relatively simple fix a problem that did exist (albeit for a small number) can go away. If you have a dropside crib they have free kits provided to station the side. Or, you can do it yourself with a simple screw and drill.

    Labeling the drop sides as death traps and getting hysterical is uncalled for, simply make prudent, logical safety changes and life continues on. Kinda like bike helmets.

  31. I LOVED this Sesame Street clip when I was a kid! Thanks for posting it.

  32. @Mike – I agree completely. Wasn’t there a story a few years ago about a child lost in the woods – who HID from the rescuers calling his name because they were strangers.

    I took my niece to the bathroom at restaurant last weekend. I was still in the stall, when she was done. She was stretching to reach the soap. Another woman was there and niece asked “could you please help me get some soap?” The lady helped her and all was good.

    At the zoo, our kids (5 in the extended family 7, 6, 5, 3, 2) know how to recognize zoo employees and ask for help if we get separated. The older 2 (5 yo lives in Austin so fewer visits) can find the carousel from any point in the zoo (except the new African Exhibit because we haven’t been yet). That is our meet up point if we get lost. They love Mr. Melvin the operator, a Houston Fixture. It is a good location because it is far from the gate (there is a gate back there but the kids are unaware of it because it only opens on holidays). That way they aren’t tempted to go find the car, a solution they put forth that we nixed.

  33. Banning guns ain’t never gonna happen. Love it or loathe it, we do have that second amendment.

    But Matt, yeah – reading the article it sounded like the problem wasn’t the type of crib but (where there is a problem at all) shoddy merchandise.

  34. Yellow Submarine! Yellow Submarine! We love it at our house and my kids recognized it right away. I am guessing this clip was made about a year after YS came out. Hmmm, come to think of it, my son who has issues with watching many other movies (where bad things might happen)- never had that issue with Yellow Submarine. My Neighbor Totoro would be the only other movie that didn’t send him running from the room (because it is the cutest kid’s movie ever!)

    Kimberly, I always point out the staff for my kids too when we go places like the aquarium or other. They generally have a uniform shirt color that makes it easy to know who is who.

    When my son was younger and couldn’t talk so that anyone could understand him (he has speech issues) I would write on his arm with a sharpy “Call my mom 000-000-0000” He never did get separated from us, but I always worried that people would not be able to understand him if he should.

  35. Watch Christmas Eve on Sesame Street from the 70’s it’s awesome. Maria looks SO young🙂

  36. I’m pretty ticked about the drop-side crib ban and the movement to ban them. Ugh. They are safer in so many ways. Nobody figures that in. And every case I’ve heard of where a drop-side crib is involved in a death or injury, it’s because someone put it together wrong.

    So now if you have a climber, you either have to switch him to a toddler bed (or mattress on the floor or cosleeping etc.), or let him fall on his head from the top of the stationary crib side.

    Next thing you know, they will ban cribs because the number of deaths from such a fall will increase.

    And then they will just make it illegal for parents to sleep at night, since there are no more cribs to stop babies from wandering at all hours.

    Unless . . . unless those kid safety companies come up with elaborate, expensive alarm systems to alert the parents when their kids get up and move at night. I guess it’s just a question of which will occur first.

  37. CJ: I agree — I never saw that one on TV (figures, being in Germany, where we had our own Sesame Street clips, *ggg*), but when I saw this one here on the blog, I thought it was kind of bizarre. But my 3-year old climbed on my lap, as I was watching it, and thought it was interesting.

    I love the one with the leaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter! My older kids have been going to the grocery store for me ever since they were five years old — and they were always fine with asking somebody for help. Only thing is, they _do_ find so much more they think we desperately need at home (chocolate),😉.

    So long,
    Corinna

    P.S.: Last Saturday my 8-year-old walked the the open market to buy apples, and… brought me flowers, too,😉.

  38. Mom recently charged with allowing her son to walk home from school…

    http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=13675416

  39. woah – the only thing I would have charged her with is abuse for making the poor kid wear an orange vest and helmet to walk down the street…

  40. so totally remember the loaf of bread, container of milk and stick of butter! Thanks for sharing! My kids don’t watch Sesame Street these days and we don’t have cable so PBS is it. Will have to check out the DVD’s. Has anyone noticed that candy land has changed? The last square is a rainbow. I remember waiting for turns when I was a kid to get the last correct color and anyone could ‘catch up’. much more fun and teaches something different like patience and even though you’re behind you can still ‘win’ than winner take all.

  41. The differance between the old school sesame street version and the new one… In the first one notice how there is no parent anywhere to be seen. In the new one the mom is walking behind them with the baby in the stroller the whole time


  42. @JLM: Yeah, but did you notice how the kids where all by themselves in the library — mom took them there, but wasn’t anywhere near, when the kids were working on the computer, *lol*. Wow, what a concept (*beingironic*).

    (Reminds me of a discussion we’ve had here a couple of months ago).

  43. …ride around, get lost, ask for help, talk to strangers and take hallucinagens.

  44. Have any of you ever been lost? I guess not. I think it’s about how strange things appear when you’re lost. The fountain and the house all did strange things when he was lost and worried- on the way back the plastic house didn’t make a face and the fountain didn’t even move.

    These things aren’t strange anymore – they’re familiar and even more – they mark the way home.

    I can never get enough of reading this site. It’s like common sense has found a foothold somewhere in the universe. Until I read the “worried parent” comments that is.

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