Last night I watched the final episode of Phineas and Ferb with my daughter. The summer we thought would never end is over. The episode, entitled "Last Day of Summer" aired, ironically, just as we are about to get out of school. Real summer beckons. But for Phineas and Ferb, the rollicking 104 day ride is over.
There was a time when we watched every episode religiously, many multiple times. We downloaded music from the show, even acted out Rollercoaster: The Musical. My daughter practically memorized the Wiki. But in recent years, as my daughter moved away from childhood, watching the show was more of an afterthought, something she did more for me than anything else.
Phineas and Ferb has been a five-year hymn of praise to ingenuity, creativity, unstructured time, and belief in the innate goodness of childhood curiosity. In an era where your child can get taken by Child Protective Services for playing outside alone for ninety minutes, Phineas and Ferb feels almost revolutionary. While they tell kids "Summer belongs to you," the reality for most kids involves a patchwork of camp-like child-care solutions arranged by overworked parents. Or staying in the house watching tv in order to be safe.
That doesn't mean that their story hasn't been valuable or worthwhile. As wacky as the adventures have been, and as much as it has poked gentle fun at 'people in charge', Phineas and Ferb has been serious food both for the imagination and the soul. I dare say that there will someday be college courses dedicated to their world, if there aren't already. Their over-arching themes:
Believe in yourself. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Have fun, enjoy your family and your friends. Rock out. Live joyfully. Sit under the shade of a tree and dream. Oh, how I will miss them.
Summer is over. Long live summer.