Twenty Years of Loving and Hating Barney

The sugar-coated voice, the short bouncy arms, the spunky kids, Barney and his whole act drove me nuts. I declared my children would never watch such things. Barney was outlawed from my home. But Barney was everywhere: birthday parties, schools, and of course the television.

My daughter shrugged her shoulders at the purple dinosaur - she could take it or leave it. Along came my son and everything changed.

I found the camps tough on both sides of Barney. There were those that loved him or hated him.

How can you hate Barney? several mothers asked me. My kids love him!

How can you stand that thing? other parents and adults (often people in the B.C. range - before kids) would say with a surprising amount of disdain and intense emotion in their voice.

My son loved Barney from the first time he saw him. Barney helped him walk because he'd stand at attention when the show came on. Barney taught my son some rhythm when the musical bits played. Barney taught about school, photography, numbers, and the farm. The simple, reptitive words helped my son learn to speak and reinforce concepts learned at school. I always thought if a company needed to test children's products - toys or shows - they needed to tap my son.

As he's grown older, my son goes through cycles and chooses not to watch Barney. His tastes are changing, but Barney can still reel him in. Out of the blue last night he yelled," Barney!" I stuck in the DVD. It was like old times. He was dancing, singing, even playing percussion to the songs and dances.

Me? How can I hate a guy how gives so much to my son? Fortunately after these twenty years of parenting, I've grown some sort of odd ear-filter contraption-trap in my brain that can block out just about any sound I do not want hear. (However, like a sappy 80s ballad, I still do not want the voice of Barney playing too long in my head...)I get a million things done while Barney is on. Who wouldn't love a guy entertained my son so well?

Barney 779 kbIt's taken twenty years, but I've grown to respect Barney. The best children's programming? Well, I'm learned not to judge. I do know that the big purple guy has grown on me. My son's old, loved stuffed Barney comes out to play less and less. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, he will one day have no more use to my son.

To those who still hate Barney, perhaps hanging out with my son and watching the joy that screams from his whole being might just offer a bit of enlightenment.

Never judge a big, stuffed purple dinosaur until you've worn his suit - for a good long time - he'll eventually grow on you too.




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