Thoughts on “Put Down the Duckie”

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hRecently, a Facebook friend posted an “All-Star” version of the Sesame Street favorite, “Put Down the Duckie.” You remember the song, right? I mean, who can forget Ernie (Jim Henson) and Mr. Hoots (Kevin Clash) jammin’ to “Put Down the Duckie?” That song has serious ear worm potential!

(You can find the full lyrics here:

I listened (’cause who could resist?) and immediately my day brightened. This is such an upbeat song!  But as I bellowed along, grooving with Mr. Hoots and Ernie, I had a sudden random thought: Is there a greater message in this song? Is Ernie’s beloved duckie a symbol or metaphor?

You know the narrative, right? Ernie wants to play the sax and he can’t. He keeps getting a “silly squeak” when he tries, so he appeals to Mr. Hoots for advice. You know he just needs to put down that duck! Mr. Hoots tells him that, too. But Ernie is having a hard time following that advice.

Mr. Hoots laments,
“You didn’t hear a word I said
You gotta get it through your head
Don’t be a stubborn cluck
Ernie, lay aside the duck!”

I started to wonder: How often am I like Ernie? How often do others, who look at me, know exactly what I need to do, and I miss it entirely? Like Ernie, do I cling to those comfortable ways, happy in my little ruts, sticking to the safe and well-traveled paths, and sabotage my own attempts to try something new?  I’m not trying to argue that I shouldn’t build on what is working or what I already know, but sometimes when I hold onto my own “duckies” so tightly, couldn’t I be preventing myself from fully investing  in new experiences?

Mr. Hoots puts it best:

“You’ll never find the skill you seek
Till you pay your dues

Though you’re blessed with flying fingers
When you wanna wail, you’re stuck
What good are flying fingers
If they’re wrapped around a duck?”

Meaningful growth does not come without some discomfort and risk. Maybe Mr. Hoots is reminding me how important it is to move boldly out of my comfort zones, stretch myself, and fly! Or play the sax, as the case may be. Now, there’s a message.

Alternatively, this song could simply serve as a reminder to focus on doing one thing at a time. How often do I try to multi-task and end up doing nothing well? Focus on one thing at a time. Put down the duck to play the saxophone. At this time of year, that’s a message I need to hear!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as Mr. Hoots points out to Ernie, “You don’t have to lose your duck. You can pick it up when you’re finished.”

“I can?” Ernie responds. “Oh, wow!” Then he throws his duckie over his shoulder and launches into exuberant saxophone playing…sans squeak!

So, now that I’ve absorbed some words of wisdom from Mr. Hoots, I’m off to listen to Oscar the Grouch sing “I Love Trash.” I’m wondering whether there might be a recycling message in there…

19 thoughts on “Thoughts on “Put Down the Duckie”

  1. jcareyreads says:

    So much thought from a childhood favorite! Many lessons to be learned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine says:

    I love Sesame Street! Especially when the guest artists visited. I never thought there was any wisdom in that catchy song so thank you for helping me think about the words in a new way!
    I think that song will be stuck in my head today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t wait to jam to Put Down the Duckie! It goes really well with the mindset work so many schools are engaging in and it’s a much less serious and intense entry point to remind us all that our strengths can be our downfall if we hold on too tightly to them. Can’t wait to hear what you learn from the Trash lyrics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      “Our strengths can be our downfall if we hold on too tightly to them.” Wow–well put! It reminds me of a recent post by Laura Purdie Salas who wrote about “Overplaying Your Writing Strengths.”


  4. elsie says:

    So this makes me wonder what is it you want to try but don’t because you are still holding on to that duckie? 🙂 Great reminders to step out of the box and go for it, whatever it is.
    P.S. I don’t know the song and I’m afraid to listen to it because I just don’t want to create an earworm. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      It’s not anything in particular. I’m just a bit change averse and working to push myself out of my own little box. You should listen to the song, it’s a lot of fun! As ear worms go, it’s not a bad one to have. Let me know if you do. I’d love to hear what you think of it.


  5. dmsherriff says:

    I’m writing my response as Put Down the Duckie plays on! I love that this slice was born from a fun, lighthearted jam. Yet, your writing makes me take pause and think about my own comfort zones and what happens when I take risks. It’s a great reminder for all – your slice, and Put Down the Duckie! Thanks for sharing!
    Ps I am heading to youtube for I Love Trash – thanks for the ear worm 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those songs are classic! I had forgotten many of them, but then (when Isabelle was born) one of my friends purchased me a Sesame St. Through the Years CD set and it brought all of those wonderful songs back to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post! I love the lessons you saw in the lyrics and how they applied to your life. We can all learn something from Sesame Street. Fun post! (And now I’ve got that song stuck in my head…)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. margaretsmn says:

    Where did this idea come from? I love how you’ve analyzed this song from our beloved Ernie. Reminds me of the wisdom of don’t notice the speck in someone else’s eye until you’ve taken the log out of your own. Or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      This was just a totally random thought. I really don’t know where it came from! Your saying is new to me. I wonder if it’s a southern expression…


      • mbhmaine says:

        Aha–a bit of research reveals the saying is “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” and it’s from the Bible–Matthew something or other.


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