Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing  Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (K.I.D.S.)

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Every single day people from all walks of life learn the upsetting diagnosis: They’ve become another statistic in the global pandemic of K.I.D.S. While there are many effective methods of prevention, as of today, there is no known cure.

Just as our nation is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, it appears there is another crisis rapidly spreading throughout the world. Over the past 50 years, throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia, there has been an explosion of reported cases of Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (better known by its acronym, K.I.D.S.). No socio-demographic group has been spared by this invasive and intractable outbreak. In fact, I myself have been waging my own personal battle with K.I.D.S. for over twenty years.

According to humanitarian relief agencies’ longitudinal studies dating back to the 19th century, the number of known cases of K.I.D.S. is at its highest level in human history. Alarmingly, it shows no signs of reversing its upward trend. For millions of couples facing the long-term ordeal of K.I.D.S., there is no relief in sight and social distancing is simply not an option.

Scientists have been unable to unlock the mysterious inner workings of K.I.D.S., but its origins have been conclusively linked to a combination of alcohol consumption combined with unprotected sexual contact in the vast majority of cases. Warning signs that you may have contracted K.I.D.S. include an inability to maintain an orderly household and an increasing disregard for clutter and chaos. Another warning sign includes a dramatic degree of social distancing by adults who have not been exposed to K.I.D.S.

What makes this epidemic of K.I.D.S. so debilitating is that there is very little anyone can do to combat it. Once contracted, in the vast majority of cases, the condition, while not usually fatal, typically lasts the rest of their lives. People coping with even the mildest form of K.I.D.S. often report that the condition gets progressively more difficult to manage over time, as the virus mutates in appearance, continually grows in size, and in later stages becomes increasingly resistant to attempts to control it. As people struggle to adapt to living with K.I.D.S., they report that close friends they’ve known for years but who have not contracted K.I.D.S. often avoid them like the plague.

Early stage K.I.D.S. is often associated with significant sleep deprivation lasting up to eight months. During this “incubator” period, common side effects include a significant decline in the victim’s range of vocabulary, typically accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to speak in a high-pitched chirpy voice about successful bowel movements.

Scientists have identified an alarming phenomenon in people suffering with K.I.D.S. – a noticeable deterioration in their mental faculties. They speculate that this intellectual impairment may be caused by prolonged exposure to vacuous television programming dedicated to letters of the alphabet or possibly due to being subjected to endless recitations of drippy songs about Baby Belugas or beautiful days in the neighborhood.

Surprisingly, after a few years, some K.I.D.S. sufferers have reported brief intervals of partially regained lucidity and brief episodes where the worst aspects of K.I.D.S. appear to go into in remission. They can sometimes regain normal sleep cycles and are able to enjoy more adult-themed TV programming. There have even been reported instances in which people living with K.I.D.S. have experienced momentary fits of laughter at birthday parties, zoos, and little league games – but these anecdotal stories have yet to be substantiated with empirical evidence.

One of the most common ailments afflicting people with K.I.D.S. is a perceived loss of control, independence and spontaneity. They often report feeling chained to endless cycles of vehicular transport to soccer games, piano recitals, and doctor’s appointments, taking the place of time previously used for hiking with friends, playing tennis, and working out at the gym. As a result of this hard-to-break cycle, another common side effect of K.I.D.S. is unsightly weight gain and a marked decline in concern for personal appearance.

It is common for people with advanced stages of K.I.D.S. to experience wild swings of emotion and increased levels of stress. If you encounter an otherwise rational adult barking out phrases like who do you think paid for that? or would it kill you to say, ‘thank you?’ or because I said so!, the chances are high the person is battling K.I.D.S. There are many reports of K.I.D.S. wiping out a couple’s entire long-term savings. Some studies suggestion that this steep decline in personal net worth is most severe for people who have been struggling with K.I.D.S. for 18 to 22 years.

The good news is that there are glimmers of hope. For some people facing an uphill struggle with K.I.D.S., symptoms of frustration and exhaustion tend to fade about the time when the financial strain of managing K.I.D.S. has passed its peak. There are dozens of documented cases where victims of K.I.D.S. can resume relatively normal lives somewhere around 18 years from the onset of the condition, engaging in conversations about politics or professional sports teams or taking long drives that no longer require emergency pit stops to eliminate bodily fluids.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

Theories abound as to the primary cause of an incurable condition suffered by adults called Kronic Incessant Disorder Syndrome (KIDS), but a recent study suggests prolonged exposure to rainbow-colored aliens with annoying, chirpy voices may be a contributor.

While there are several effective methods for the prevention of K.I.D.S., currently there is no cure. The unsettling reality is that the existence of K.I.D.S. has become a global epidemic. Ever since my wife and I first received the shocking diagnosis more than two decades ago that we had both become exposed to K.I.D.S., our lives have been consumed just trying to manage this condition.

But here is the oddest part about this chronically overwhelming, exhausting condition. Even though coming down with K.I.D.S. has radically turned my life upside down, drained my life savings and caused me endless sleepless nights, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I had never gotten K.I.D.S. It’s one lifelong condition for which I hope they never find a cure.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. 

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

My Wife Wants Me Recalled

My Wife Wants Me Recalled

Dear Ms. Jones,

Thank you for your recent letter to Husbands-R-Us regarding your purchase of a husband, specifically the Tim Jones BSE (“Basic Spousal Edition”) in April 1987. In your 12-page diatribe, you demand that we recall this “badly broken down jalopy” (your words) due to, as you put it, “innumerable product defects and previously hidden deficiencies” that you claim were not made known to you when you purchased this unit.

We at Husbands-R-Us appreciate your business, Ms. Jones, and under normal circumstances, we would gladly recall your model and provide you with a satisfactory replacement at no cost. Regrettably, these are not normal circumstances. Our 30-year marital protection plan is unmatched in the industry. Since you purchased your spousal unit in 1987 – over 33 years ago, your husband is now officially out of warranty.

It is not uncommon that the components of a husband of that vintage will start to wear out, which is why we always recommend regular upgrades – advice you did not heed. In fact, not many models last that long, so we don’t carry replacement parts for such old versions.

Even if we could make an exception and let you retroactively buy an extended warranty, it has also come to our attention that you recently took your husband in to get both its knees replaced. Your decision to have these repairs performed by a non-Husbands-R-Us mechanic would void your warranty anyway.

In looking at your account profile, we discovered this is not the first time you’ve filed a complaint regarding your matrimonial purchase. Indeed, you have written us on at least nine prior occasions, including:

January 2007: “I noticed that my husband is losing its finish – especially on the roof. Is there any way to preserve what little protection is still remaining?”

March 2011: “My husband’s motor is making loud grinding noises at nighttime, making it impossible for me to sleep. Can you install a muffler to make it run more quietly?”

October 2015: “This model’s headlights appear to be dimming and have difficulty making out nearby objects in low light. Can these be replaced?”

August 2018: “This piece of crap you sold me routinely leaks gas. And its motor sputters and turns off after very short distances – often stalling out on the couch when I try to steer it towards mowing the lawn.”

And then there were those missives you sent bemoaning its declining performance in bed with each passing year. That’s really not covered by the warranty. Your owner’s manual clearly states, “Your mileage may vary.

We also appreciate the occasional correspondence from your offspring, arguing that their DAD Model TLP (“Totally Lame Parent”) was “unfair and a loser” for refusing to buy them cell phones when they were seven years old. We got a chuckle over their most recent lament regarding its styling and appearance – “It’s, like, so out of date, we’re, like, awesomely embarrassed to, like, be seen riding around in public with it, like.”

We understand your collective disappointment. Full disclosure, we’ve actually received scores of complaints lodged by other individuals about your particular Tim Jones BSE model – from former bosses, neighbors, and several of its middle school teachers.

Interestingly, most of the grievances were submitted by people who felt harassed by a systemic barrage of weekly sophomoric humor articles they received in what some described as this unit’s “desperate attempt to seek approval.” We have never heard of this glitch before. Apparently, this particular Tim Jones is no laughing matter.

Please understand, when your hubby was originally manufactured back in 1955, husband manufacturing technology was still in its infancy. Back then, the industry simply lacked the quality controls that are commonplace on today’s more intelligently designed, longer-lasting husband models. And the slimmer, sleeker body styles many women prefer would not become the norm until many years later.

Furthermore, please note that your purchase contract clearly specified that we are not liable for damage caused by reckless driving (or eating). The fact that your husband’s engine was routinely fueled by frosted cinnamon pop tarts and Mountain Dew for the last 40 years goes against all the maintenance recommendations found in your service manual.

Still, given you’ve been a longstanding customer, we at Husbands-R-Us would like make a one-time-only offer to compensate for your troubles. We will give you top value for your husband if you trade it in for a newer, more high-performance version. We have a wide selection including an exotic, luxury model just imported from Italy starting at $95,000.00. We estimate the worth of your Tim Jones BSE, based on its age and current condition, to be roughly $50 (we’ll make it $100 if you throw in its 60” flat screen man cave TV). But hurry. This offer expires at midnight.

It can be disheartening to discover one has unwittingly gotten locked into a long-term husband purchase contract with restrictive return policies and onerous payment terms lasting 20, 30 or even 40 years. If that describes you – and based on your voluminous correspondence over the years, it sounds like it might –we recommend you consider our attractive leasing program, BOTS (Boyfriend On The Side). We have an excellent inventory of new models – many with very low mileage and ample sized engines that really go the distance. You can even do a month-to-month lease – and trade them in for new BOTS for a small restocking fee.

Here at Husbands-R-Us, we look forward to serving you again when you’re in the market for a newer, more advanced husband or just to take one of our BOTS out for a test drive.

Or perhaps you’d like to forget about men altogether and buy a shiny red sports car instead. Many wives tell us, compared to their husbands, new cars are far less hassle, much more responsive, smell way better, and come with firmer, sexier rear ends.

Sincerely,

Brad Millington

Customer Relations Manager

Husbands-R-Us

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

A Letter to My Future Son-In-Law

A Letter to My Future Son-In-Law

So you want to marry my daughter? Have you totally thought this through? Let me tell you what you’re in for. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

So you want to marry my daughter? Have you totally thought this through? Let me tell you what you’re in for. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

[Author’s note: My daughter is in her mid-twenties and has a boyfriend. The days of “Will he ask me to the prom?” have evolved to “Will he ask me to marry him?” I thought I should prepare for that frightening eventuality by jotting down some notes for what I might want to say to her future husband when that important day approaches. This is just a first draft. Suggestions welcome. – TEJ]

Dear Possible-Future Son-in-Law,

So you want to marry my daughter? What on God’s green earth gives you the right to stomp on my heart and steal my little girl, you hateful, wretched son-of-a-b*tch? Have you met my close friend, Mr. Smith and his buddy, Mr. Wesson? If you think for one minute you’re going to swoop in out of nowhere and take my place after all I’ve done to raise her right, well, you’ll have to come through me. Ya’ hear me, fella?

(Okay, I’m feeling a little cranky. I haven’t eaten in hours, so that opening was a little hangry. Sorry. Let me try this again.)

Son, my daughter has informed me that you would like to marry her. How exciting! I could not be happier for you both. This is a very important decision, so, I hope you’ve thoroughly thought it through.

My daughter is a very special young woman. In the remote chance you’re not quite as familiar with her charming quirks as I have come to be, perhaps I might share a few words of counsel, to help ensure smooth sailing as you embark on your new life together.

You may have noticed by now that my precious little angel is rather, um, strong-willed. She’s been that way forever. When she turned two, she insisted on baking her birthday cake all by herself, proclaiming, “I DO IT MYSELF, DADDY!” I still can recall the proud look on her face as she diligently mixed the cake batter, added the rainbow sprinkles, Frosted Flakes, and bananas, and then poured the entire concoction into what she called “the blender,” but which we adults usually refer to as “the toilet.” The plumber and I sure had a hearty laugh about that, up until the moment he presented me with his $575 bill.

I also hope you’re not terribly concerned with a particularly tidy home. My little Entropy Engine, as I like to call her, is more of a free spirit in that regard. As far back as I can remember, her room always has looked like a Category 5 hurricane had just swept through. I wouldn’t waste your breath asking her to load the dishwasher, or make the bed, or clean up after herself. She’ll no doubt remind you: that’s what maids are for. Hope you earn a good paycheck, young man.

Oh, and a word about pets: DON’T – unless you like getting up at 3am to let the dog out. Because there’s no way you’ll be able to nudge her out of bed. After all, she needs her nightly uninterrupted ten-hour beauty rest. No, when it comes to pets, her job is to cuddle them. Don’t get me wrong. My daughter loves animals – or more accurately, YouTube videos of them, especially fuzzy hedgehogs and baby penguins. If you’re really serious about pets, might I suggest starting with baby steps, say, a bowl of fish? On second thought, scratch that suggestion. It might end badly.

You’ve probably noticed by now that my daughter is remarkably independent. We raised her to be that way. And you may notice she has a slightly elevated need to be right a fair amount of the time – but only when she’s conscious. She will be quick to point out when you’re wrong about say, your taste in men’s fashion or perhaps the latest Star Wars film or where you both should go out to dinner tonight. But she will overrule you with the cutest expression on her face, so you won’t even notice. My Little Miss Sunshine is absolutely willing to listen to your point of view on a wide variety of issues – just so long as your point of view happens to be the same as hers. Just practice saying, “That’s a great idea, dear.” You’ll do just fine.

If my precious jewel has decided that you’re Mr. Right, that says a lot about you. You are clearly a wonderful young man, hardworking, smart, sensitive and a devoted companion, who has compiled at least a six-figure 401K by now. Well done. Oh, on that last point, I’m not saying that my daughter just wants you for your money. Let me be clear. I just want you for your money.

Your future mother-in-law and I plan to move in with you guys when our retirement nest egg runs out. Not to worry. That won’t be for at least another three years. Be sure to buy a large enough house so we can have plenty of privacy – and a view of the ocean and a very large en suite… with a Jacuzzi and a 65” flat screen TV. You’re going to make such a good son.

I hope this will help you feel more comfortable as you contemplate spending the rest of your life married to this incredible young woman, who for the first 18 years of her life I affectionately called my Prima Donna Angel Monster Princess. Welcome to the family.

Remember, in the long run, you needn’t worry about us. Worry about yourself – um, perhaps I phrased that poorly. I mean, life is short. In the end, all that matters is your and my baby girl’s happiness (albeit not necessarily in that order). Make a point to laugh together, love and support each other, and never forget what’s really important in the life you create together: Grandchildren. I really don’t feel I should have to explain this to you. Don’t disappoint me, son.

Signed,

Your soon-to-be “Dad”

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral

Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral

Tim funeral - football coachRecently I turned 35 years old, and by recently, I mean 30 years ago. But more recently, I turned 65 – this past January. When you turn 65, you start asking yourself uncomfortable questions like, “How long has that mole been there?” You ponder your own mortality and your legacy and how is it that AARP got your mailing address so quickly.

Lately I’ve begun asking myself challenging questions: What have I done with my life? What do I want to do with the limited time I have left on this planet? Did I have breakfast yet? Where did I leave my car keys?

I wonder about the impact I’ve had on the people in my life. What might these people say about me if they spoke at my funeral? It got me to imagining, which got me to worrying…. a lot…. about what they might have to say:

My earliest childhood friend, Danny: Yeah, Timmy and I were tight – until he destroyed my purple bicycle. I loved that bike. You son of a bitch. When you rode it into that pond and wrecked the frame beyond repair, from that moment on, you were dead to me. You hear that, Timmy? You’re DEAD TO ME!

My first grade teacher, Miss Kelly: I remember Timothy, yes I do. He was a rather chatty young lad. An unhealthy need for approval, if you ask me. As I recall, he had the worst penmanship and he was a very slow reader. Took him forever to get through the book Fun with Dick and Jane. And every crayon drawing he ever did always included a rainbow. I privately wondered whether he might be gay. Continue reading “Things I hope people won’t mention at my funeral” »

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

The Time I Saved Ten Lives

[The following is a true story.]

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Above: Ten very fortunate Survivors. Behind them lay icy cold waters that, had they not been lucky, could have caused their painful deaths.

Many years ago, I saved ten innocent lives from almost certain death – well maybe it was eight innocent lives, one borderline and one utterly without any redeeming qualities. But I digress.

I really don’t like to talk about it. Even my kids have no idea about my Herculean actions. I certainly don’t consider myself a hero – any more than Gandhi or Malala – or that guy who leapt onto a NYC subway track and rescued a man from an oncoming train. Like him, I was just in the right place at the right time. I did what I had to do. If you were as incredibly selfless as me, you might have done the same thing.

It’s hard for me to discuss the events of that traumatic day some 18 years ago. I can still see their seemingly lifeless bodies floating in the icy cold waters, unable to escape to safety. Death was knocking – no, POUNDING – at their door. To be honest, in some ways I blame myself for this near tragedy. They never would have gotten into their perilous predicament had it not been for my own carelessness. Even worse, there was no way to blame my wife for this disaster, as she was out of town at the time.

Let me take you back to the beginning. It all started when our then seven-year-old daughter Emily brought home a plastic bag filled with ten teensy guppies. Her teacher had entrusted her the school of fish on the condition that she take good care of them. Being a first grader, my daughter had not yet acquired the requisite level of maturity necessary to handle this immense responsibility. In the weeks that followed, she would grossly overfeed them and then neglect to feed them for days on end. She never bothered to clean their tank, so their habitat soon became discolored and grimy from, well, poop. Not a pleasant sight.

Not ready to broach the topic of where guppies go after they die (let alone Is there a Santa Claus) with my young impressionable daughter, I came to the rescue, as all competent helicopter parents do. I took over the care of these tiny, fragile, inch-long sea creatures.

After implementing a strict feeding regimen, I donned a Hazmat suit and faced the onerous task of scouring their tank. Using a net, I scooped these little critters one by one out of the murky waters and deposited them into a salad bowl we would plan to use later that evening for dinner, now filled with clean H2O. I scrubbed their glass dwelling thoroughly and refilled it with cold tap water.

I then dumped them all back into their sparkling clean home. They swam with fresh abandon. But did any of them give me so much as a nod of appreciation? Nope. Not so much as a flick of a fin. In case you’re contemplating adding guppies to your family, you should know they are incredibly self-absorbed and will never offer even the slightest acknowledgement of gratitude for anything you do for them. Not unlike your kids.

I started to clean up the bathroom. Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed some of the guppies were no longer darting back and forth the way they usually did in relentless search of an escape from their glass prison. Before long, very few of them were moving at all. And some were starting to flip over on their backs. Something fishy was happening. In minutes, all ten of them were totally motionless. Uh oh. Somehow – I really did not know how – I had killed them. All of them. I was a terrible guppy dad.

What was I going to tell Emily? I tried to conjure up some elaborate fish story about the “ten that got away.” I had not fully formulated my lie, but I concluded our cat Boodles would figure into it. Since he lacked the ability to formulate words and gestures in his defense, he was the obvious patsy.

The first step was to hide the evidence by extracting the corpses from their watery graves and feeding them to Boodles (thus appeasing and framing our cat in one move). I put my hand into the tank… Whoa! The water was incredibly cold! Had I frozen the poor devils to death? What kind of monster was I?

As I stood over the tank, pondering how easy it would be to hide my crime, my mind leapt to cryonics – body freezing for future revival. “I wonder…” Maybe all was not lost. If they could be frozen, perhaps they could be unfrozen. I quickly poured out half of the cold water and replaced it with hot, making the overall mixture approximately room temperature. I held my breath….  Two agonizing minutes later, I spied a flicker. Then another. One by one, the once dead guppies were wiggling back to life. THEY’RE ALIVE! IT’S A MIRACLE! THEY’RE ALIVE!  The murderer had become the savior. Before long, all ten were happily zigging and zagging all around the tank – and of course, without a word of thanks to me for saving their lives.

I sometimes reflect back on that day and cringe about the near calamity I had caused. I had practically killed  these ten innocent young lives. Blood was almost on my hands. But in the end, I was able to save them all from an icy cold death. So, in a way, I actually was a hero. Now before you start posting congratulatory comments about how great I am for saving all those lives, just know that my heroism doesn’t make me a better person than you. (Okay, well, maybe just a little. Barely worth pointing out, if you ask me.)

[Footnote: In case you were curious about the photo at the top of this piece, it’s of some of the cast from Season 3 of the TV show, Survivor. I just always liked that show.]

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Mister Rogers is My Hero

Mister Rogers is My Hero

Fred McFeely Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. If you asked me to name a hero, he’s the first person that comes to mind.

Fred McFeely Rogers, aka Mister Rogers. If you asked me to name a hero, he’s the first person that comes to mind.

“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.” – Fred Rogers

As a child, I never watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. By the time his show first aired in 1968, I was 13. For an awkward teenager trying to fit in, Mister Rogers was the least cool show I could conceive of watching. He was an oddball, with that strangely slow way of talking and those goofy puppets (which I later learned he made himself). His manner was too saccharine sweet. A total dweeb.

Many decades later, I have radically altered my stance on Mister Rogers. Today, I think of him as a hero.

Who was this man with the unfashionable cardigan sweaters (all made by his mother) and his blue sneakers? It turns out the character you saw on TV was exactly who he was in real life. Fred McFeely Rogers was born in 1928 in Latrobe, PA. An only child till age 11, he was overweight for much of his childhood and was often picked on because of it. He graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and became a Presbyterian minister in 1963.

He later attended graduate school, where he studied child development. This led him to producing to several regional children’s television shows and finally to the iconic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 until 2001. In his career, he wrote and directed 912 episodes. He composed all the music for his shows and did most of the puppetry. He also wrote dozens of children’s and parenting books on subjects ranging from going to the dentist to coping with bullies.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique.” – Fred Rogers

He received over 40 honorary degrees and countless awards, including being inducted into the TV Hall of Fame in 1999 and being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Despite all these achievements and awards, Fred Rogers never let it change the person he was. He was always a safe harbor of hope for children who were struggling. Whether they felt marginalized because of their weight, their skin color, a disability, or a cognitive impairment, to Mister Rogers every child was special and unique. He taught that it was our job as parents to help our kids understand their special gifts and to encourage them to find a positive way to express their feelings, especially ones like fear, anger, anxiety and sadness. 

Mister Rogers’ shows were not always sunny conversations about rainbows and kittens. He believed in being honest with children. That’s why he dedicated shows to topics that were often especially difficult for kids to cope with, like the death of a parent, divorce, or being the victim of bullying or racism. When Bobby Kennedy was shot, he devoted an entire show to the topic of assassinations.

“I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” – Fred Rogers

In 1969, when black Americans were still prevented from swimming alongside whites, an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood broke the color barrier.

In 1969, when black Americans were still prevented from swimming alongside whites, an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood broke the color barrier.

Fred Rogers is my hero because he was a paragon of the kind of human being I wish I could be more like. He always preached kindness, compassion, patience, and acceptance of people who were different from ourselves. In these tribal times, Mister Rogers’ optimistic world view is the antidote for our culture of cynicism and intolerance. Mister Rogers always saw the individual first. He taught young impressionable minds to understand the importance of lending a hand to others and seeing the good in them despite – or perhaps because of – their differences.

“Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.” – Fred Rogers

Although he was an ordained minister and he kneeled by his bed every night to pray for other people, Mister Rogers rarely talked about religion on his show. He talked about giving to others and forgiveness and how to guide people to find commonality with others, regardless of backgrounds or status. I still can’t watch his signature song, It’s You I Like without tearing up.

To the always soft-spoken Mister Rogers, life was not about winning. What mattered was helping others to win, especially those for whom attaining happiness might seem out of reach. This is the constant theme he preached his entire life, whether on TV or off – the importance of being present and doing what we could to make others feel safe to connect with the world around them. Not only to accept other people’s differences but to embrace them and celebrate them.

“Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.” – Fred Rogers

Despite all his fame and fortune, Mister Rogers lived a modest life. He proposed to Joanne Byrd by letter at the age of 24 and she ran to a phone booth to call him to accept his proposal. They were married for 50 years until his passing. He weighed 143 pounds his entire adult life, perhaps in part because of his daily ritual of getting up at 5:30 every morning to swim laps.

For Mister Rogers, it was never about attaining wealth or fame. He once said, “fame is just a four-letter word, and like tape or face or pain or life or love, what matters is what we do with it.” He has taught me (and millions of others) that the measure of our lives is not our achievements, not how much we earn or the number of awards we accumulate. It’s about the person we become – our character – and ultimately the positive impact we make on the lives of others.

“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.” – Fred Rogers

In the recent movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Mister Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) asks his interviewer – and us the viewer as well – to sit quietly, in total silence, for one minute. He asks us to reflect on the people who have made us into the person we are. It is a powerful moment in the film. It led me to thinking about the many people who have cared for me, picked me up when I fell, and supported me to become the person I am today and how blessed my life has been.

Fred Rogers, passed away in 2003 from stomach cancer at the age of 74, leaving a legacy that will hopefully be passed on for many generations. Looking back, I realize the nerdy TV personality who I once thought was totally lame was in a profound way one of the coolest people I’d ever discover. He’s truly is a hero to me.

As I have repeatedly tried – and failed – to live up to the lofty, unattainable example he set, I often think to myself, in a moment of anger or anxiety or disappointment, what would Mister Rogers say? How might he handle this situation? And in that moment, I slow down, take a deep breath, pause, and become, if only briefly, a slightly better person. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2019