Courtesy of Sesame Workshop
Courtesy of Sesame Workshop
Kids have lots of questions about staying home right now. When can I go out to see my friends again? When will this be over?
To answer them (and have a little fun), NPR's Life Kit reached out to Sesame Street's beloved monster, Grover, to speak directly to kids. Grover talks with Life Kit hosts Anya Kamenetz and Cory Turner about wearing a mask, missing his friends and why it's OK to be sad sometimes.
(Just for parents: Sesame Workshop's Rosemarie Truglio shares tips for parenting in a pandemic, here.)
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On staying busy
Grover: Hello, everybody! Hey, all you children and mommies and daddies. I hope you are all safe and well right now!
Cory: Grover, this is kind of a weird time right now, isn't it? Not only are we apart from some of the people we love, there are also lots more rules, aren't there? And we can't all go outside and play whenever we want.
Anya: So we wanted to know, Grover, what's keeping you busy right now?
Grover: Well, I am trying to help around the house. I try to make my bed, and I take my dishes to the sink and try to pick up my toys.
But I also do things around the neighborhood. I am a delivery monster, and I go to the grocery store, and I pick up groceries for people who cannot go to the grocery store. I put on my mask and I am very safe. And I pick up groceries and take them to people like Mrs. Crustworthy.
Anya: Grover, I'm sorry to ask this, but how do you fit your mask over your nose?
Grover: Well, it goes ... it goes ... well, kind of around it. And it just has to cover my nostrils. You know, I made my own mask. And it is very stylish too. It fits me perfectly. it has little cute bunny rabbits. I designed it myself.
On seeing friends ... on the screen
Anya: One thing that I'm hearing from some kids is that they are really missing seeing their friends. And I'm wondering, what do you do when you miss your friends?
Grover: Well, I try to stay connected with my friends over video chat. Actually, just before talking to you, I was on with Snuffy. Well ... his left eye anyway. It's kind of hard to see all of him on a little tiny screen.
Anya: Grover, what are some other ways we can make these video chats more fun?
Grover: Sometimes it is fun to have a meal together with somebody, and you can make the same meal. And it is sort of like having dinner together.
You know, I feel like I'm busier now than I was before. And I am seeing some of my relatives more often, albeit on Zoom or some other video chat. You can play with your friends. If you both have the same game, you can play the game together. You can play a board game. You can play card games with one another, and it is a lot of fun.
Why daydreaming is wonderful
Cory: Grover, do you have any other ideas that maybe don't require a screen?
Grover: You can play with your toys and use your own imagination. You can go anywhere in your own imagination. Reading a book also is a fun thing to do by yourself. And your mind can go anywhere in a book as well.
Cory: Especially if there's a monster at the end of it.
Grover: Oh, I do not think I want to read that book.
Anya: Grover, have you been doing a lot of daydreaming? Because that's something I kind of remember you doing when I was a kid?
Grover: Well, I do like to daydream. I think it is very healthy for everybody to just take a moment and let their mind wander and see where it goes.
Cory: I'd love to know, where does your mind go when you daydream?
Grover: I like to imagine that I am high on a mountain. I can see the whole world and all of my friends down below. And I wave to them all.
On staying in the moment
Anya: So Grover, there's one really big question, and I don't know if you know the answer to it, but I'm kind of hoping that you do. And I know that it's the top question for almost every kid. And that is, when is this going to be over?
Grover: You are asking me? I do not know. I am sorry. But that is OK. You know, it is OK not to know things. That is all right. But I know that this will be over someday. And we will all get to see each other again and play with each other again. This is just for now. That is what my mommy says.
Anya: Oh, I like that.
So Grover, Cory and I were hoping to get your help playing a game right now. And it's something that helps us stay in the moment so we can think a little bit less about what's going to happen later on. And it's called Five, Four, Three, Two, One.
Grover: OK, is it a counting game?
Cory: It's kind of a just-living-in-the-moment-game. I want you to name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two that you can smell, and then finally, one thing that you can taste.
Grover: Oh, all right. Well, I see a tree outside my window. I see a hat of mine on a coat rack. I guess it really should be on a hat rack. I will have to deal with that later. I see my mommy working on her computer, and I see you on my little screen.
Oh, and of course, the penguins. They are my next meeting. We have a virtual lunch date. I guess they started early.
Cory: Now four things that you can touch.
Grover: Well, I can touch my soft blue fur. My special pen and my note pad for writing shopping lists. Oh, I can touch the chair that I'm sitting in.
Cory: Now three things that you can hear.
Grover: Well, I can hear you, Cory and Anya. And then I can hear my mommy over across the room, clickety-clacketing on her computer.
Cory: Now, two things you can smell?
Grover: Oh. Well, I think I can smell some tuna. Mommy?! Did you make some tuna sandwiches? Oh, for lunch? Oh, good! Oh, good! I cannot wait to have that later. And let's see. You know what? I cannot smell anything else. Tuna just kind of takes over.
Cory: And then the last thing. One thing you can taste?
Grover: I can almost taste that tuna! Can I have it early?
Cory: Well, at least now you're not thinking about the far, far future. You're just thinking about lunch.
Grover: You know what? You are right. That is a very neat thing you just observed — that if we have little things we look forward to, then we might forget about some of the other things that we are kind of worried about.
Cory: I'm wondering, Grover, you spend a lot of time talking to younger kids, but I know that there are also a lot of older kids right now who are missing their high school graduations, who are missing college graduations, who are feeling really sad. And I'm wondering if you have anything to say to them or even to the grown ups who are listening right now and feeling a little bit sad or a little bit worried.
Grover: It is OK to be sad every now and then — that is only human. Or monster. Everybody who is alive gets sad from time to time, and that is OK. But this is going to pass, and we will all be able to get together and celebrate when we do.
Anya: I guess it's time for us to say goodbye.
Grover: Before I go, I want to thank all of the people out there who are helping others. You know, like nurses and emergency workers and the people at the stores who go to work every day and they help people. And that is so important.
We should all thank them. Whether it is putting a sign out our windows for the mail carriers. Or just standing outside your door or opening your window at night, like I do, with all my neighbors and yelling at the top of my lungs, 'Thank you!'
Anya: I love doing that. That's our favorite part of the day over here.
Cory: In fact, let's send one big, radio 'Thank you!' right now. On three. One, two, three ...
Everyone: THANK YOU!!!
The audio portion of this podcast was produced by Sylvie Douglis.