The Elmo Obsession

Okay, what the f–k is the deal with Elmo?

I’ve put on television before. Besides our mutual love of Lee Goldberg, she really has shown no interest in it. But then, a few weeks ago, I decided to put on Sesame Street. Within seconds I had a full-fledged addict on my hands. I used to have to drag her outside to get away from Wayne Sanchez. She became obsessed with his tail and he in turn, became obsessed with using his claws….on her.  Now I have to leave because of that furry red thing. She’ll stand there pointing, begging for me to turn on the TV.  She’ll whine, then wail, then flop on the floor kicking. I try to distract her with books, toys, even Wayne. Nothing works. Not only that, but now every word in her vocabulary is replaced with that annoying four letter one. She just learned “elbow.” I kept hoping she was just practicing that. But who points to a turned off TV, shrieks and flails because of a body part?

The Elmo Obsession

Now if this were a character created by Disney, I would absolutely insist there is some sort of creepy conspiracy. However, it’s PBS. Nevertheless, there are surely conspiracy theorists out there who think Elmo is programmed deep inside the US government to make our children, well, I don’t know. Something. Because this addiction is just downright weird.

I did some research. I wanted to know why it wasn’t Big Bird or Mr Snuffle-what’s-his name that kids flock to. Here is a good article someone wrote. Some key points: He is smaller and younger (translation: more relatable to tots) than the others. Because of his small stature, he doesn’t take up the whole screen like Big Bird does, thus leaving more room for him to interact with the others. He giggles more than his counterparts (babies like that). He uses repetition, which is a key learning tool for babies, and his jingle is easy to remember.

Problem is, I’m now kinda addicted to him too. Not because I like him. But because of what he gives me: time. I can get up in the morning, put on the four letter word, and read the paper. From cover to cover. The New York Times. At night, instead of fretting over her not eating enough, I turn on Channel 13 and her mouth stays wide open. I shove in as much food as possible and she doesn’t so much as glance at me. I say “chew and swallow.” She does, then opens her mouth again. Basically my sweet, animated baby becomes a robot.

I could really take this addiction and run with it. I could probably go grocery shopping and leave her with him. In other words, it’s highly possible to seriously stop being a mother and have Elmo take over. But that’s no fun either. And not why I had a baby.

I do need to figure out how to manage it all though. I don’t think she’s a candidate for A & E’s Intervention. Last night after dinner, she kept fussing for HIM. I said no, and gave her a book. She threw it across the room. I tried crayons. She broke them in half…with her teeth. I walked away to do the dishes. She came up and bit me on the back of the leg. At that point, I had had it. I marched upstairs and let her wail in her crib for a few minutes. Then began the bedtime routine, which went surprisingly smooth.

So now I’m looking to you guys for advice and insight. Do I ride this out for the next, oh, 3 years? Then have to switch to the next excruciating program? Does Fia have an addictive personality, where someday when she’s in drug rehab I’ll long for the simple Elmo addiction? Should I allow one hour in the morning and one hour at night (is that too many hours?)  and hope she gradually accepts her lot in life, ie: that of a poor, deprived child? Maybe there is some sort of secret rehab you all send your toddlers to. If so, please let me in on it. I don’t want to snap and find myself hovering over my television with a butcher knife.

I await your wisdom.

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  1. by Leah

    On June 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    that’s funny. it passes. at 4 i can barely get roman to watch sesame street. and his was a true obsession. elmo’s voice and laugh are the big draw. the bright red color helps. enjoy the moment – read the times while you can!

  2. by Grace

    On June 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    no worries. Jesse was obsessed with Elmo too. it passed. Elmo is cute. he’s funny and most of all, he’s educational. I sat there with Jesse and watched and talked about what Elmo was teaching us. give it time, she’ll be over Elmo soon and on to something else. let her watch. Cory is obsessed with Ni Hao Kai Lan. I let him watch and now interacts with what they are talking about. I read him Kai Lan books and it sparks his interest and is learning more words than I can keep up with. B&N has a ton of Elmo/Sesame Street books – one where Elmo is a puppet. she’ll love it! so roll with it!!! it’s not like she’s watching Tom & Jerry beat the crap out of each other : )

  3. by susan

    On June 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    this is my toddler too!! shes just about 20 months and is obsessed. i just roll with it. it will pass!

  4. by CamsMom

    On June 18, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    We went through the same thing with our son between one and a half and just past two years he just turned 2.5 we were getting a little concerned luckily where we live we get On Demand tv and the do the shorts of Elmos World so is not the full hour. Unfortunately we only get Sesame two days a week while @ work as I personally love Sesame Street having grown up on it in the 70s. What I did which was hugely educational for my son was download all the Sesame Podcasts with the letters of the alphabet which broke the Elmo addiction but also is I feel directly responsible for him being able to identify all his letters at age two. I really feel they showed him how when letters are put together they make words as is now starting to write his letters and spell out his name as writes it. I would say run with this stage as Sesame imo is one of the most educational kids shows out there if not the most. Oh yes and wait till she progresses to Cookie Monster he is my fav.

  5. by Jill Cordes

    On June 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Many thanks for all your insight. I am def rolling with it for now especially because I am digging getting caught up on world events!

  6. by Miranda

    On June 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    My daughter was an Elmo addict to a T then she went all Cookie Monster, then Zoe, she sleeps with a Zoe doll now. But after Sesame street (we did buy over 40 dvds we live in europe so its not always on television! yikes!) anyways after SS she went into Bear and the big blue house, then dora the explorer and lately its blues clues. we have not gone all out buying things for any of these fads but rather let her pick a few things from each like books and a dvd.

    Lesson is add toys that go with SS and you’re golden. It will keep the television off sometimes and her education going. Try coloring books, and other toys SS has out!

  7. by ryan

    On October 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    This is ihilariousl. I cry at night out of humurous exasperation of getting the ittle addictive creature out of our lives – but it is what it is.

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