Friday, December 17, 2010

All I Want for Christmas Is To Kiss Tom Bergeron

While boys everywhere are lining up to see Tron opening tonight, my 6-year-old will most likely want to snuggle up on the couch and catch his favorite show -- America's Funniest Videos. For the past several months, the knock-down, hit-in-the-crotch, people-pranking, pet-dancing, baby-vomiting program has ruled the airwaves in the Mac household.

But it's not his love of America's antics that's so fascinating, it's his absolute adoration of host Tom Bergeron. Funny enough, my dad shares a similar feeling. He's been known to comment favorably on the fellow Boston-bred Bergeron while we're back visiting family in Massachusetts. Jacob perfectly mimics Tom's hosting skills, reciting the voice over back at us while riding in the car... sitting at dinner... lying in bed. Maybe his uncanny ability to recall and regurgitate script and tone will make him a very lucrative voice over artist one day.

Sure, Tom Bergeron keep keeps himself busy juggling AFV and Dancing with the Stars for ABC, but for our family, his most important role is the one he has played in helping Jacob reach an incredible milestone.

It was a typical Tuesday. I arrived at 8:30 am to do my volunteer shift in the first grade classroom. I looked over at Jacob and noticed a red object on the corner of his desk. His teacher uses red, yellow and green "bones" (dog lover) to help motivate the kids throughout the day, rewarding them with green when they use good behavior, work engine and classroom habits... yellow is neutral... and you can guess that red isn't so great. How is it he had only been at school 30 minutes and was already red? Not a good sign.

I didn't say anything about it as I cut out crafts and corrected papers. But as my shift ended and Jacob lined up for 10 a.m. recess, I quietly pulled him aside. I was very concerned that being in the red so early in the day was just beginning of a downward spiral, something he historically has had a hard time snapping out of.

This is how the conversation went.

Honey, I don't know what you did to get in the red and it doesn't even matter. I just want to tell you a story.
Ok, mom.
Who's your favorite TV host in the whole world?
Tom Bergeron.
Did you know that when Tom Bergeron was younger and wanted to work in television really badly, some people would tell him no and not give him the job he wanted?

Jacob looked at me curiously.

That's right, he would knock on the door and say 'excuse me, I would like to work here' and they would say 'no.' But how many TV shows does Tom Bergeron have now?
Do you know why? Because he persevered. He didn't let someone tell him that he wasn't going to succeed. He just kept trying and trying and got one job after another and became famous for doing what he loved to do most. I think you can do that today. Don't let being in the red decide how your whole day will go. I know you can move into the yellow and maybe even end the day in the green. It's all up to you, Jacob. YOU can be like Tom Bergeron. 

At 2:15, the doorbell rang as Jacob was dropped off by my friend running the day's carpool. As I opened the door, I was blinded by the glow radiating from my son's face. In his hand, he held a certificate.

Mom, I did it! I was in the greenAnd I got a certificate for good work engine. 

If I close my eyes, I can still hear the pride and excitement in his voice and see the twinkle in his eye. His voice hushed, almost to a whisper... 

"Mom, I was just like Tom Bergeron."

Update: I sent the link to this post to Tom Bergeron via Twitter, not really expecting that he'd read it but what the heck, right? Just a few minutes later, I got a tweet back from him. "Loved reading that! As my friend Kermit knows, it ain't easy being green! Nice work, Jacob! And Merry Christmas!" Maybe Jacob is on to something. With kids regularly discouraged by young 'role models' these days, maybe we just need to set our sights a little higher (or older).

Related Post: The Autism Secret


Rusty said...

Brilliant. An inspired bit of parenting. I was tearing up at the end. Rock on.

DorianTB said...

As the parent of a high-functioning Aspie tween who has benefitted from the kind of tactics you describe, we can very much relate! Our daughter has had a system in place for years: a smiley-face for each day she does all the good, responsible things she's supposed to do, and a frowny-face when she doesn't, in which she loses her TV/DVD/music/video game privileges for the rest of the day. If she gets less than 3 frowny-faces for the month, she gets to choose a prize worth $20 or less. You'd be amazed how potent and important these are to her; in all the years we've been doing it, she's only lost her privileges 3 times! Thanks for sharing!

Maci Miller said...

AW! Ok I am all teary eyed now! How sweet is he? And how wonderful a mom you are, Jackie. I love that you focused on a positive story instead of drawing attention to what he may have done wrong. Inspiring!

Junk Drawer Kathy said...

WHAT a story! And how nice that Mr. Bergeron wrote back! Congrats to Jacob for "being in the green."

p.s. I love the story you told him about perseverance. LOVE.

Anonymous said...

Great Story Jackie!!!! I'll have to use that next time keira goes to RED in her class. We can turn something not so positive into a learning experience and watch as they thrive!!!!!