If you're kids are like mine, they picked out their Halloween costumes for next year before they even finished counting all the candy in their trick-or-treat bags. On Halloween eve, my younger son informed us he knew what he wanted to be next year: Howard Stern.
I have to admit that I wasn't really surprised or bothered by it all all. Why? Because, for the last two seasons, Howard Stern has been a judge of one of our favorite TV shows - NBC's America's Got Talent.
From his seat at the judge's table, Howard has helped coach young and old, expert and novice performers on to fame - and won over my two young sons.
Growing up with Howard Stern
My husband is a New Yorker and grew up listening to Howard Stern on the airwaves - even before he made the move to satellite radio. These days, he's the one constant on his hour-long commutes to and from work in the suburbs.
I was introduced to the radio host by my husband, and I grew to love the sweet, family man after watching the 1997 movie Private Parts.
When Howard Stern announced he was joining America's Got Talent as one of its hosts back in 2012, he could immediately count my husband and I as new fans of the show - and we eagerly tuned into its twice-weekly broadcasts all summer long.
This summer, we invited our two young sons to watch it, too. And, not surprisingly, they quickly became enamored with the talent show and its four judges - especially Howard Stern.
Howard Stern kid magnet?
While we would never let our sons listen to Howard Stern's satellite radio show given its X-rated content, we gladly let them watch him and his fellow judges, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B (go Spice Girls!) on America's Got Talent.
Howard Stern was on live television, being watched my millions, and seemed to always be on his "best" behavior, and we were glad to be able to use the show as a more PG way to introduce our sons to the self-proclaimed "King of all Media."
From just watching the auditions, our sons began to quote Howard Stern's comments from the reality show in their conversations with us and imitate some of his mannerisms - even the hand motions he did when he was introduced to the audience at the opening of America's Got Talent.
Yes, Howard Stern can teach kids a thing or two, too
Just a few shows into the season, our sons began to take notice that Howard was the one judge who most often spoke the truth - even if it was hard for the contestants to hear and bear after completing a less than stellar performance.
Even at a young age, they became enamored with Howard - and that's okay with me.
Howard is a successful family man who has biting humor and wit. He stands behind his gut instincts and doesn't succumb to popular notions or opinions - even when it goes against the sentiments of his fellow judges.
While our sons are too young to get all of that, I think it's good for them to see a strong example of someone who stands 100 percent behind who and what they are and tries to help others fulfill their hopes and dreams - with some helpful criticism thrown in, of course.
What would it take to get Howard Stern up on his feet?
Despite the fact that hundreds (or even thousands) of people were cut from America's Got Talent, the show still managed to inspire my sons to find and cultivate their own talents - no matter what they may be.
Even months after this season's winner was announced, my sons are still talking about what "talent" they should practice for next year's auditions. And, they're encouraging their friends to join them in their pursuit of the much-sought after America's Got Talent title and prize. And, why shouldn't they?
This year, the top six finalists include a comedian, a magician, two singers, a dancer, and an opera-singing quartet. So what's to stop two bilingual, soccer-loving, Pokemon-adoring, young boys from Chicago from hitting it big, too? They are reaching for the stars - and I am sure not going to get in their way.
So, as they continue to prepare for their turn in the spotlight, I encourage them to ask themselves what Howard Stern would think of their budding talents. What helpful criticism would he offer? What would they need to do to better themselves in hopes of getting the 6-foot-5-inch judge to get up on his feet and applaud.
A plea for Howard Stern to return as a judge next year
For us, the America's Got Talent buzz is still alive and well - even after this season's winner was chosen.
Just the other week, my family took a road trip to Merrillville, Ind. to see America's Got Talent Live. Even without the show's host, Nick Cannon, and its four judges here with them in the midwest, our sons loved every single minute of the live show. It was an amazing night, and it showed them once again what you can achieve if you reach for the stars - and make it into the hearts of Americans.
So now, my family sits and waits for the next season of America's Got Talent, and my husband and I encourage our sons to continue to dream big. And, of course, we wait anxiously for Howard Stern to announce his return to the judges table next season.
While I'm sure Howard Stern isn't losing sleep over how he'll win over the under 10-year-old market, I want him to know that he's done good. He's got two fans who can learn a lot and be inspired by someone primarily known for being censored over the radio airwaves.
Howard Stern has helped to create a program that can be enjoyed by families, and can inspire people of all ages to dig deep, practice hard, listen to criticism and proud of who are and what you can stand to accomplish - no matter what it is.
Did your children watch America's Got Talent? Do they also like Howard Stern? Would you encourage them to be one of his fans based on his appearance on the reality TV show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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