Faculty Wife | Part 12

by Elouise

1974 Mr. Rogers event ND

Time to get back to being a Faculty Wife! In case you don’t remember, we’re in the early 1970s. I’m home alone most weekdays with our baby daughter and toddler son.

I don’t know how to play with children, much less how to be a child myself. The only super-fun game I remember playing as a child is PIT. It was the only card game we were allowed to play–except for Rook (also known as ‘missionary poker’).

Everyone got down on the floor, screamed, hollered and tried to outbid each other to get the corner on the market. If I were analyzing my family’s patterns, I’d say that playing PIT was our one sure-fire way to let off steam and laugh together without fear of being reprimanded.

That was partly because Mom played, too. PIT was one of the few games she played with abandon. She was merciless, relentless and super competitive against everyone–including Dad.

Watching her was almost as fun as playing the game. She wasn’t laboring in the kitchen or resting or washing clothes. She was actually playing. With us!

Early on, D and I bought a set of PIT cards and began playing it with our children when they were old enough.

But in the meantime, what was I to do? Most of the time D wasn’t home. He was teaching, going to faculty meetings or working in his office at the Bible College.

When he gets home, our children are ecstatic. He and they seem to get along famously. They laugh themselves silly and behave like children.

Sometimes I feel resentful and left out. They seem to have all the fun while I slave away in the kitchen or the laundry room or behind the vacuum cleaner. I want to be out there in the living room romping around with them, but don’t feel entitled. Nor do I know how to talk with D about this. I have important work to do!

Enter Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood. [Click video to see and hear his opening routine.] I was as enthralled with his weekday TV program as were our son and daughter. When he sang, he didn’t sing just for and to them. He also sang for and to me.

Mister Rogers helped me become a better Mom to our young children. Every weekday he came to our house, knocked on the door and came right in, singing.

He hangs up his jacket, puts on a sweater, changes his shoes, talks to us, shows us neat stuff we can do, takes us with him around his neighborhood, and talks with everyday people. Then his trolley takes us to make-believe land for the next exciting chapter of the story. Nothing glitzy. He’s just being himself.

Mister Rogers showed me how to listen to, talk with, sing and make up songs with my children. He also taught me to do this for myself. I often teared up as I sang to my children and to myself, “I’m taking care of you, taking good care of you. Once I was very little too. Now I take care of you.”

Thank you, Mister Rogers!

  • You acknowledged and touched the humanity, creativity, joy, pain and everyday disappointments of children of all ages.
  • You showed us how to be curious, to learn about and try out new things, to make mistakes and try again, to treat one another with kindness and respect.
  • You were dependable and always just the way you were–yourself.
  • You helped us care about other people–how they feel, what they enjoy doing, and what they think about things.
  • You taught us how to say thank you, how to talk and cry about what hurts, and to look forward to another day. No matter how many sad things happened today.

Several years later, when we were living in California, our children had an opportunity to see Mister Rogers live. A great day–see photo above.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 October 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, Summer 1974-5