I was watching The Disney Channel the other day (ah, fatherhood): Tigger, Eeyore, and Winnie the Pooh were dancing through The Hundred Acre Wood with a gaggle of clean, smiling children, happily singing their theme song, "My Friends Tigger and Pooh." There was a grown-up woman with them...a cute blonde with an acoustic guitar who looked vaguely familiar.
Suddenly I realized I knew her. Kay Hanley!
I nearly fell over.
When I was a college boy in Boston, one of my buddies joined a local band: Letters to Cleo. "Letters," as the cool kids called them, had some success in the local rock clubs and on college radio. Eventually, they toured with Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair, appeared on movie soundtracks, and became one of the top alternative bands of the nineties.
Their lead singer? Kay Hanley.
This was the same woman who downed beer and shouted her rapid-fire lyrics at us in smoky Boston dives.
Now she's got a Disney gig. I felt glad for the "local girl who made good."
However, not everyone shared my enthusiasm.
One of the daddy blogs I read daily (we've got to stick together, you know) is WebGoonies. Blogger Kevin did some investigation into just who this Kay Hanley woman is, and he didn't like what he found:
"I'm trying to think in my mind who else from Playhouse Disney may use these words and get drunk like Kay. Johnny from Johnny and the Sprites? No I can't see that...I just can't think of anyone that would have this immature attitude that Kay Hanley appears to give off on her blog posts. Did the Disney executives not do their research or did they just not care? Am I just complaining about something worthless again?"
Kevin is an online buddy of mine, so it's not my intention to start a Jihad against him. But I will say this: It's natural to want to believe that anyone who interacts with our children — caregivers, relatives, even those who produce the TV shows kids love — is chaste, squeaky clean, and perfect in every way. Believe me, I get that. In fact, I like to imagine Grace's preschool teacher returning home after a day of work to an evening of pruning flowers, feeding baby lambs from a bottle, and simply thinking about how wonderful my daughter is.
However, no human being exists in that pristine, innocent state (except some monks high up in the mountains somewhere). Adults who work with children should be able to act like adults outside of work. If they don't, well, they end up building amusement parks and zoos on their own property and then spiral into weirdness.
"Sure," you say, "but what if my little one looked into Kay's pre-Disney career?" First of all, if your child is performing unsupervised Google searches, you've got more immediate problems to deal with. Kay is among the least dangerous things they can find online.
I'd be burying my head in the sandbox if I didn't think that Mr. Hooper, Fred Rogers, Carol Spiney (the voice of Big Bird and Oscar), and a host of others didn't use the occasional naughty word or *gasp* have S-E-X. The Disney video is sweet, catchy, and makes my daughter happy.
That's a-okay with me.