I am a grown-ass woman, but I’m perpetually obsessed with the same things many 80s millennials love: Care Bears, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Big Bird, and rainbow-colored everything. Our parents can’t believe we still haven’t grown up.
For one thing, we were given candy necklaces to suck on while we watched traumatizing cartoons created by adults who didn’t know how to protect the sensitivity of children. Take for example, the Sesame Street movie “Follow That Bird” from 1985. Spoiler alert ahead, FYI. A sad scene followed by a happy scene, so keep reading.
I was just a kid, shocked at the part of the movie where these two guys named the Sleaze Brothers kidnapped the sweet, innocent Big Bird, dyed him blue and threw him in a cage. They made him the “Bluebird of Happiness,” but he sang about being so sad. In the scene, a group of kids watch Big Bird cry behind bars and they don’t like it. Neither do we. Other YouTubers and I who watched it back in the day were pretty f’d up for a long time.
Many of us would go on to suffer even more throughout painful childhoods and learn that “this is what life is about, so get over it.” Ouch. No wonder there are so many sad movies that play in our minds. Maybe we felt lost, misunderstood, tossed aside and abandoned for so long, wondering when we’d be freed like Big Bird and find our sense of childlike hope – our Sesame Street – once again.
I revisited “Follow That Bird” a few times as an adult, thanks to the internet. Now that I am mature enough to understand what was happening in the sad moments of the movie, I explained to my inner child that it’s okay to be sad, that we should never have watched this movie at such a young age, and that I promise her a safe space to express all her feelings from now on (we like to do that by painting them out 🙂 )
My inner child, who thanked me for listening, also has a sassy and bossy side. She said she wanted to stop watching the sad scene already, and go back to that part where Big Bird got a ride from a really nice turkey truck driver (played by old-time singer Waylon Jennings) who sang a song that made everyone smile: “Ain’t No Road Too Long.” This was the part of the movie where even though Big Bird knew he was so far from home, the driver said that if he knew exactly where he wanted to go and “set his heart to moving on,” he’d surely get to where he wanted to be.
We watched the scene on YouTube, and the adult Danielle rolled her eyes. “I’m so sick of all this fluffy positive thinking. Why can’t we just wake up and grow up already?”
My sassy inner child put her hands on her hips and said, “Hold on there missy, I think YOU’RE the one who’s been sleeping. Why don’t you wake up and have a lollipop?”
I said, “You know what, kid, I should have listened to you a long time ago.”
“Well duh!” she said. Then she took out the paints and laid them across my kitchen table. “Let’s make a mess.”
In the metaphorical movie of my life, I had an epiphany: that my four-year-old self knows what we (she and myself) need more than anyone.
And in some moments, a cheesy, cheerful scene from a Sesame Street movie is EXACTLY it.
“pick up your feet and follow your beak” 😉 Yeah of course it’s corny – corny is the nature of my being. Watch the video below if you want a little childlike inspiration. We all need it in these times.