I’m not sure if I can overstate how important the muppets were to me as a child. I started watching Sesame Street at an early age, and Kermit was by far my favorite muppet. There were others, too, and I liked them for their different quirks. But the “Hi ho, Kermit T. Frog here” call was something that always made me smile.
As anyone who has seen the Google doodle knows, today would have been Jim Henson’s 75th birthday. He’s been gone for more than twenty years now, but in some ways his work is still with us. I often tell people that I learned to read watching Sesame Street, not through the muppets but the educational shorts they would appear in between the muppet skits. There’s a reason that the show was always brought to you by two letters and a number, after all.
Not everyone learns to read before kindergarten. Some do, and some don’t, and it really doesn’t have any impact on a child’s life one way or the other. But for me, it made me confident that I could do something well. I’m all about confidence in the situations where I have it, and reading and writing have always been something I believe that I can do. And Bert and Ernie, Big Bird and Oscar, Grover and Kermit once amused me enough to open up the door for this to happen.
My family and I went to Washington, DC for Spring Break earlier this year. At the Smithsonian Institute for American History, I saw a Kermit the Frog puppet and a picture of Jim Henson on display. Seeing Kermit, and the man whose imagination brought him into being, brought a smile to my face.
I wish I could thank Jim Henson for the wonderful gift that he gave to me a long time ago. I can’t do that, but I can at least recognize, and pay tribute to, his legacy in this space. The world is a better place for me, and hopefully for others too, because of Jim Henson.