The XX Factor

Sesame Street Turns 40, and My Kids Aren’t Watching

I admit it-I wanted my kids to watch Sesame Street because I knew it was at worst harmless, and at best educational-although I’ve never believed watching TV could make kids smarter , I’m willing to accept that it can teach them to recognize a rectangle. But from the first, it held little interest for them. My oldest preferred Baby Einstein, although with proper maneuvering, I could get in a shower during “Elmo’s World”-although not necessarily without tears. He moved on to Blue’s Clues , while his younger sisters both preferred Dora and his little brother remains a fan of Little Einsteins . I kept trying, but if Sesame Street was playing, they gradually drifted away. (Not that that’s a bad thing, but presumably some children actually watch the show.)

Besides Sesame Street, none would sit still for the various educational interludes networks like PBS and Discovery Kids used to start off their programming-treacly adults, singing children. They didn’t want humans on their small screen, doing all of the boring things humans do-they wanted cartoons, often devoid of any background, facial expression or ability to speak (Joe and Steve were the exceptions who proved the rule). Sesame Street had too many grown-ups, too many scene changes, too many intervening videos of kids getting dressed or going about their day-or at least, that’s what I thought. Some at Sesame Street seem to have felt the same way-they recently added more regular Muppet segments and ” smoother transitions ,” but it still never took in our house.

So I’ll watch Michelle Obama on Sesame Street via YouTube , and if the TV’s on today, someone will surely choose one of the usual cartoons on the roster. Sesame Street will just have to turn 40 without us. Will you be watching-or do your kids, like mine, clamor for livelier fare?