As a little boy, there was nothing I liked better than Sunday aftemoons at my grandfather's farm in western Pennsylvania. Surrounded by miles of winding stonewalls, the house and barn provided endless hours of fun for a city kid like me. I was used to parlors neat as a pin that seemed to whisper, "Not to be touched!" I can still remember one afternoon when I was eight years old. Since my first visit to the farm, I'd wanted mor
e than anything to be allowed to climb the stonewalls surrounding the property. My parents would never approve. The walls were old; some stones were missing, others loose and crumbling. Still, my yearning to scramble across those walls grew so strong. One spring afternoon, I summoned all my courage and entered the living room, where the adults had gathered after dinner. "I, uh, I want to climb the stonewalls," I said hesitantl
y. Everyone looked up. "Can I climb the stonewalls?" Instantly a chorus went up from the women in the room. "Heavens, no!" they cried in dismay. "You'll hurt yourself!" I wasn't too disappointed; the response was just as I'd expected. But before I could leave the room, I was stopped by my grandfather' s booming voice. "Hold on just a minute," I heard him say, "Let the boy climb the stonewalls. He has to learn to do things for
himself.""Scoot," he said to me with a wink, "and come and see me when you get back." For the next two and a half hours I climbed those old walls and had the time of my life. Later I met with my grandfather to tell him about my adventure. I'll never forget what he said. "Fred," he said, grinning, "you made this day a special day just by being yourself. Always remember, there's only one person in this whole world like you, and
I like you exactly as you are. "Many years have passed since then, and today I host the television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, seen by millions of children throughout America. There have been changes over the years, but one thing remains the same: my message to children at the end of almost every visit, "There's only one person in this whole world like you, and people can like you exactly as you are."