Dear Daniel Tiger,
First and foremost, my daughter loves you. So much. That alone, bringing a smile to her face every day, is reason enough for me to send you my many thanks. Thank you so much for that, Daniel Tiger.
But there’s more.
Your friend and my friend, Mr. Rogers, said “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” He was such a helper – bringing kindness to so many all over the world.
I wanted to do that, too – help others. I went to school, worked hard, and became a family therapist. When kids are confused and nervous and aren’t quite sure what will happen in my office (so many are scared I’ll give them a shot!), I tell them my job is to help people feel safe and happy. That seems to help. Then we learn about their feelings and ways to help them feel better and who else in their life can be helpers too. I’ve helped a lot of people, and I’m so grateful to be able to do it.
But I can’t help everyone. There are only so many people I can see each week, and so many more that need someone. Not everyone has a car to get to my office, some can’t miss school or work, and others can’t get their parents to bring them in (cheer up, walk it off, get over it, their parents say). I do the best I can, but I still worry.
But they’re not alone, are they Daniel? They have you, too. Every day, you come into their homes and fill their rooms with song and play and Ugga Muggas. You teach them all of the things that I would teach them. You help them to name their feelings, because sometimes just giving it a name helps it to feel a little less huge and scary. You show them that all feelings are OK – even feeling sad or angry. It may not be fun or feel good to have those feelings, you tell them, but it’s OK – it’s normal. Do you know how special that is Daniel?
If you stopped there Daniel, that would be enough. Plenty. More than most. But you don’t stop, do you? You take it to the next level, and with song and softness, you show all of these kids how to feel better. Things they can do on their own, friends like Katerina and Miss Elaina that they can lean on, and grownups, like Teacher Harriet, who can help make magic.
Sometimes I worry, Daniel Tiger. I worry that what I’m doing is not working. Do you ever feel this way? Let me tell you Daniel, it is working. I see your teachings every day with my daughter. She growls at me now, did you know that? Just like you, she gets mad sometimes (usually at me), or frustrated (usually with the puppy), and instead of keeping it bottled up, (or worse), she growls. It lets me know she’s upset and needs some help. You did that.
When she is at preschool, learning to get along with others and make friends, I’ll remind her to play nice by singing your sharing song, “Sharing with you is fun for me, too,” and all at once, something clicks for her, and she shares with others.
My absolute favorite thing you’ve taught is the Ugga Muggas. I get the biggest hug and a soft ugga mugga, and my heart is full and I know hers is too.
You did all of that, Daniel. Mr. Rogers would be so proud. For all that you do, for being such a helper when we need it so much, thank you, thank you, thank you, Daniel Tiger.