What Barney taught me

Barney, Purple Dinosaur (Nightmare)
What I imagine I looked like watching Barney, the Purple Dinosaur as a child. (Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

Tonight was a strange night. I had no homework, so I spent the evening doing nugget things with my roommates. They taught me a Hail Mary…I guess that Catholic schooling is rubbing off on me! (Don’t worry, Dad, I’m only joking.) Being so free of worries and responsibilities for a night must have evoked the inner child in me. Out of nowhere, the Barney song popped into my head.  You know, the one that goes “I love you, you love me…” and gets stuck in an incessant loop in your head. After singing it out loud a few times, I decided to pay a visit to the YouTube and check out what could be called the anthem of my toddler-hood. I have done this before, with my post about Mister Rogers, but this was somehow different. I found the following video and proceeded to watch it.

I was horrified. Barney was scary looking! Did he always look like that? He never blinks. How creepy! I then decided to watch it again. The shock of seeing a large purple dinosaur costume wore off, and I listened to Barney’s wise words. I sung these lyrics numerous times in my ‘small person’ stage of life, and I was surprised to find that they still have relevance to my life today.

Before breaking out into song, Barney opens by saying, “You can always count on having a fun day when you spend it with the people you love.” When I was but a wee child, the people I loved the most were my family and friends at school, with the occasional puppy or horse thrown in. In my “grown-up” life at college, I have a different family of sorts. I can’t see my Mom, Dad, sister and dog every day. It can get lonely without them. However, my ‘college family’ consists of people and groups of friends who I can’t imagine I lived without a mere three years ago. If I surround myself with these people, my pseudo-family, it is impossible for me to have a day that is completely horrific. I can count on their caring and friendship to always be there to pick me up when I am down.

Barney also extols the virtues of expressing love in his song. Sure, physical contact is mentioned and seemingly endorsed. He sings “with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you…” What a great reminder to show affection to those we love! Why shouldn’t we give a high-five or hug to those who we care about? It is a great way to reinforce emotions and feelings, and to strengthen friendships and a sense of utility in life.

He also wants us, the audience, to communicate our feelings back at him, begging us to “say you love me too.” Being a journalism student would imply great communication skills, but emotional communication is not necessarily included in that skill set. It is hard to tell somebody your feelings. People are afraid of getting hurt or rejected. Even worse, they assume that others know how you feel. Whether your emotions are positive or negative, it is necessary that people (myself) truly communicate with others. In the end, that is the only way human relationships thrive— through truthfulness and openness.

One last point Barney makes is an interesting one about the quality of friendships. He sings “We’re best friends as friends should be.” While it is impossible and emotionally taxing to only have friendships that are that deep and time consuming, our purple friend has a good message.  When I came home from class yesterday, the classic and fantastic film “Mean Girls” was playing. I caught the last 30 minutes or so, and once again I laughed  when Regina George gets hit by the bus.

“Mean Girls” is about the relationships girls have with each other, set in the microcosm of a high school. The characters are horrible, evil and mean. While they are characters, everybody knows a Gretchen Weiners or has a toxic relationship like that between Regina George and the other members of the plastic. What a waste of time! Barney wants us all to be best friends, or friends that help better one another. Being in a ‘Mean Girls” friendship is not going to help someone get anywhere in life; it only has the potential to drag that person down in life. So throw out those bad relationships and focus your time, talents and efforts on those who truly deserve it.

To recap:

  • I rediscovered a show from my childhood and was terrified by it.
  • His most famous song still has relevance to my life, 15 years later.
  • We can count on our ‘families’ to ensure our lives are happy and positive
  • Communication is key! Hug somebody tomorrow (or at least give a good fist bump.)
  • Tell people what you think.
  • Only have friends that are the best friends for you. Throw away the ‘plastic’ friendships.

Barney was a smart character/man in a costume.

I hope my semi-philosophical ramblings haven’t bored you too much. As a treat for reading to the end,  watch this remix of the classic “Barney song” here on my other blog. I guarantee you won’t get it out of your head all day…but is that really such a bad thing? That’s right, I started another blog. It is a musical diary of sorts. It’s an experiment and New Year’s resolution all in one!

Peace, love and purple dinosaurs—




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