Before I became a parent, I remember hearing parents talk about the character obsessions of their children. The usual suspects included Barney, Sponge Bob, Dora, and Elmo. I thought I had a vague understanding of what that must be like. I have discovered that I had no idea.
Now, I will admit that I have worked hard to shape her obsession in the event she had one--which she clearly does. I wanted it to be something I could tolerate. And, overall, all things Sesame Street are good. We have lots of books (that we read and reread endlessly) that have Big Bird and Snuffy, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, etc. She also used to love Abby and still plays with her Abby doll from time to time. She has a Sesame Street playset and loves all the characters. One of her favorite gives is to have Phil or me put on the stethoscope and she will hand us the characters one by one to listen to and make sure they are healthy. She gives each one a smooch before tossing them away for the next one. She loves watching the opening and closing credits of Sesame Street and points to every last one of the characters, every time, like it is something new to see them there. And, having been a Sesame Street kid myself, I don't mind that this is her obsession. There are way worse things in the world. But, even within Sesame Street, there is a favorite. You know who it is. It's the same one every child under 5 gets hooked it.
My child is obsessed with Elmo. With the rare exception of Super Grover (2.0), nothing but Elmo on the screen will do. If Elmo isn't on the screen, she gets upset. Even during Elmo's World, during the segments like Mr. Noodle, Elmo's email, or watching the whatever channel, she starts to get fussy. I swear to you, it's like she's having withdrawal. She turns to me and points to the remote, telling me in no uncertain terms that my job is to fast forward through anything that is not Elmo. We also have an iPad app where Elmo teaches ABCs. She will exit the app and restart it, over and over again, just to watch more Elmo, even though it's the same 30 seconds. It's both adorable and annoying.
On the plus side, Elmo will tame the savage beast. Having an uncontrollable fit? Elmo to the rescue. Refusing to take meds? Bribe her with Elmo ("If you take your meds, you can go watch Elmo"). Turns out, Elmo is both the cause of, and cure for, many bad behaviors. Still, nothing beats the look on her face when she receives a surprise Elmo present. The other day, some friends of ours came over with something for Lil' Bit. It turned out to be a big red fuzzy blanket with a huge Elmo face on it. Among other things, she petted it, rolled around on it, twirled and danced on it, wrapped up in it, wore it like a cape, and kissed it. I can only think of one or two other gifts she has received that she fell in love with so quickly that nothing else mattered. [And, our friends get full points for giving such a great gift that doesn't make any noise or light up!] So, whenever I experience moments where she's getting fussy because I am requiring her to have patience and suffer through non-Elmo scenes, I remember the sheer joy and hours of fun she has already had with a simple red blanket with a huge monster face on it. And I am thankful for the power of Elmo.