|THE NEIGHBORHOOD ARCHIVE - All Things Mister Rogers|
The Matter of the Mittens
It's a very hot day in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe and everyone is quietly minding their own business. X the Owl is building a birdbath while Henrietta Pussycat is doing her laundry. Daniel Tiger is playing with his yo-yo while Donkie Hodie is taking a nap. Lady Elaine Fairchilde is enjoing an ice cream cone and King Friday is up to his usual governance of the Neighborhood as he decides that everyone must wear mittens despite the warm weather.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and complied with the King's orders as they assumed he had a good reason for his new rule -- everyone, that is, except Lady Elaine. Unfortunately for her, what she felt was a "stupid" rule got the best of her as a frigid breeze swept the Neighborhood of Make-Believe bringing snow and cold fingers.
A Note From Fred Rogers
Different characters in our Neighborhood of Make Believe react to situations the way children of varying ages do. In "The Matter of the Mittens" X, Henrietta, Daniel and Donkey Hodie are responding to King Friday's new rule the way a child who is in a particularly trusting stage of development might respond. "There must be a reason for this rule," they say, and they go ahead and comply. But not Lady Elaine. She reacts like some children who at 6 or 7 may become more insistent on "knowing the reason" right away.
The event of the "freezing breeze" in this story supports the idea that adults do have reasons even when children don't understand -- but Lady Elaine's insistence on knowing is respectedd too because out of these times when children insist on "knowing the reason" comes their increased capacity to be their own authority. Making decisions for one's self is essential to becoming a unique person in one's own right.
"The Matter of the Mittens" is a far-fetched make-believe story which we hope you'll be able to translate to some matters within your own family knowing that "the very same people who are trusting sometimes are the very same people who sometimes insist on knowing the reasons right away."
I hope this little story will be useful to you and your family.
Appearing In This Book
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