As my husband and I were heading out for a much-needed date night, my oldest daughter (age 3.5) came running over to us singing:

“Grown-ups come back. They do.”

If the animated PBS KIDS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is ever airing in your house, you’ve probably heard this little ditty a few times.

And, it was in this instance (as well as many others) that my love of Daniel and his compadres was solidified.

I’m a big fan of the show, which showcases real situations a toddler might find herself in and teaches him/her how to navigate big, new emotions while learning critical social skills.

I was born and raised Pittsburgh, so the Daniel Tiger has an especially big place in my heart. What’s the connection?

The animated series, which is directed at an audience of children ages 2-4, is the next gen version of PBS’s iconic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. A childhood favorite of mine, Mister Rogers was actually the one and only Fred Rogers, a legit good guy who left the earth for bigger and better things back in 2003.

A child-at-heart, Rogers wasn’t just a talented puppeteer, but also an ordained minister who put his whole heart into educating, understanding and listening to children. He was from Pittsburgh, where the show launched and was produced for its 33-year run.

Thirty-three years. No joke.

The town of Pittsburgh really embraces Rogers and his legacy. So much so, that an entire section of a local amusement park, Idlewild Park, features “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” The area is complete with rides for little kids, as well as the opportunity to meet Daniel in person.

If you haven’t been, GO. My three-year-old lost her ever-loving mind there.

On top of my personal love for this animated little feline, a recent study released that, despite being a TV show, it’s actually NOT sucking the brain juices out of my children.

Quite the opposite.

According to research conducted by the Journal of Children & Media: “One hundred and twenty-seven children aged 2–6 either watched or did not watch 10 episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood over a two-week period. Results revealed that preschoolers who watched the program exhibited higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy, and emotion recognition when their regular TV-watching experiences are frequently accompanied by active mediation.”

Totally could have told you that one, as my daughter frequently sings (whilst sitting on the potty):

“When you have to go potty, STOP and go right away…flush, wash and be on your way!”

[Active mediation meaning, of course, that parents talk with their children about what they’re watching on TV. Also, very important here. But, seriously, how are you not singing Daniel’s stuck-in-your-head songs many hours and days after the episodes air? No, really, how?]

Ugga mugga, Daniel Tiger.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

Hold onto your red sweaters, folks! Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE is coming to Charlotte!

There are two (2:30pm, 5:30pm) shows on Sunday, Jan. 22 at Knight Theatre at the Levine Center for the Arts.

During this live theatrical experience, Daniel invites the audience on an interactive musical adventure as he and his friends explore the vibrant world of their much-loved Neighborhood of Make-Believe, sharing stories of friendship, helping others and celebrating new experiences.