Friday, August 29, 2008

The Two Mr. Noodles

"Mommy, how come there is one Mrs. Noodle but two Mr. Noodles?"

Seems like a pretty innocent question, huh? But it gave me pause when my eldest son asked me that today. The boys were watching an "Elmo's World" dvd in the car as we drove to playgroup. There are, in fact, two Mr. Noodles' on the show. I knew this. I didn't think he realized it though. The original "Mr. Noodle" from "Elmo's World" was portrayed by the late, great actor Michael Jeter, who passed away a number of years ago. Sesame Street, it seems, did a simple replacement of Jeter with another actor who wore the same exact costume to portray the much loved character of the oft times befuddled Mr. Noodle. I suppose it only made sense. How do you expect a simple children's show to explain the death of a beloved character? Though I have no doubt that at some point Sesame Street has in fact poignantly dealt with the topic of death on their show, it is just the sort of show that it is. But as far as I can tell they didn't address it with Mr. Noodle, and I presume they just assumed most children wouldn't notice the change. They underestimated the astuteness of my son.

I suppose I could have used this as a learning opportunity. To sort of explain the concept of life and death to my son. But I realized very quickly that I was ill prepared for that kind of discussion. Though my son's great-Granny passed away last year, he was entirely too young to grasp what was happening at the time. I do, however, think at the age of four he could tackle this topic. But not today. Not while driving along I-25 on the way to a playgroup. Not by myself without Shawn there to help with that deep of a discussion. I wasn't ready, plain and simple.

So I asked my son why he thought there were two Mr. Noodles in the first place. He told me they looked different. I said they are different, certainly. Perhaps they are brothers? Or friends who have the same name? Like he and his pal Jackson George have the same name. But yes, there are two Mr. Noodles, and they are not the same person. He seemed satisfied with that answer. For now anyway. I don't know if I missed a great learning opportunity or not. I could have gone for miles on that discussion. But, as I said, I wasn't ready for it just yet. But it has got me thinking, and I hope I can be prepared for the next time a discussion as important as that comes along.


Terri said...

Sesame Street dealt with the death of the actor who played Mr. Hooper. Mostly as it affected Big Bird. I never saw it, as I was an adult by then, but I heard it was done very well.

On another note, they switched Gordons when I was about 7 or so. :-P

Clover said...

I remember the Gordon switching too!

Ok, so like you need to know this...But there is Mr. Noodle. And Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle. I have some Elmo DVD's where they appear together. One where they even do the Noodle Family Dance.

The brother is that guy who played the transgendered homless guy in that Robin Williams movie...Like the image of him all skinny and dirty in a pink leotard doesn't pop into my mind every time I see him...

Tales from the Crib said...

You gotta love Sesame Street -- how many shows can we relate to with our own kiddos from so long ago?! I must have been a dense kid, I don't remember the Gordon switcheroo!

And maybe I'm wrong -- maybe the Elmo video we have is the two different Mr. Noodles who are brothers? Could be! But they wear the same clothes and have the same name. Very confusing. Ah well, there are more urgent issues in the world, right!?