Baby Boomers worry a lot about the next generation, don’t we? Funny kids, always on their magic phones, never in church. Chock full of news about spirituality and hashtags, but they don’t know how to balance a checkbook. We blame their video games for the violence in our nation, their lax beliefs for God’s new absence in America. We wish they’d learned more about math and less about the Perfect Selfie, am I right?
Actually no, I’m wrong, we all are.
Theirs is a generation of vivid color, bright love, universal acceptance. They not only like new toys and new ideas, they understand them, and while their God may not look like ours, I’m pretty sure He’s very much a presence.
In short, they’re the Nickelodeon kids - the little ones we parked in front of morning cartoons while we brushed our teeth and fished Pop-Tarts out of the toaster. They did homework with Hey Arnold and learned about wildlife with Eliza Thornberry. But most importantly, they watched The Rugrats, and people, a generation weaned on Tommy Pickles can’t go wrong.
Do you remember him lighting up your television screen with that big toothless grin? Toddling in and out of trouble with his diaper sagging and his “sponsitilty” clutched to his chest?
“A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do,” he said, and he did. Tommy is the John Wayne of the Millennials - adventurous, courageous, and guided by the firmest moral compass known to man.
He taught us about loyalty - always at Chuckie’s side, nudging him forward, encouraging. He didn’t let the bad monkeys take Dill away, even though a large part of hoped they would.
Stubbornness? Did anyone ever dig in like Tommy when he was on a mission? Whether it was reaching the cookie jar or breaching the playpen wall, when Tommy Pickles had a goal he by God reached it.
Tommy gave us an openness to different cultures and beliefs, accepting with fascination stories from both Jewish and Christian grandparents, noticing but not giving a hoot that Suzy and Kimi’s skin was a different color than his own.
He taught us to be comfortable with ourselves and to have fun. “Nakey is good, Chuckie! Nakey is free!”
Imagination? Tommy created whole worlds from his seat in the sandbox, and he took everyone with him.
We needed Tommy Pickles; we still do.Take heart, people. He lives on in the hearts of the next generation.
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