A few weeks ago and for the first time in many months, baby girl was sick. Double-ear infection, 104 degree fever sick. She wouldn't eat, drink, cry, speak, or move. She just sat and stared with that hollow-eyed, I'm freaking miserable look dad occasionally has after getting over served at Chili's. Yes, I do live in the burb's. Why do you ask?
We saw it coming on Friday night when her normal pre-dinner tantrum was full-blown rage. She did her best Dawn of the Dead, angry-zombie impersonation, refused food that wasn't human flesh and passed out two hours before normal bedtime. Ruh, roh.
So naturally Saturday morning involved an argument over how to use the high-tech baby thermometer, the pediatrician's office, Walgreens pharmacy, McDonalds and settling in for quality couch time all by 9:30 a.m. Nice job parents. Nice job.
With the typical smugness of newbie parents, we had previously agreed to keep the kiddo away from the TV as much as possible. Our offspring would be raised by books, educational toys, playgrounds, and good old fashioned parenting damn it! No way we let her get hooked on the 48 inches of LCD flatscreeened ecstasy like it did her dad. As she got older and the tantrums grew fiercer, we eased the restrictions a little. Look, we made it over a year, okay? Giving her small doses of music, dancing and bright colors couldn't hurt and, seeing her dance at the start of the Wiggles theme song would convince the most cynical it's great to have kids. We even started DVR'ing Sesame Street episodes. Just in case…
So that Saturday morning, she sat with such a pitiful look that her hapless parents would have bought her a pony or a Mercedes if she had asked for it. We fired up the Street. Mom and dad went back in time briefly as the show hasn't changed much in 20 years. As we debate over Grover vs. Cookie Monster as the superior characters (I was in the CM camp), we hear "el-MOE"!
"What did she just say?"
"el-MOE, el-MOE, el-MOE." She's pointing at the TV. Sure as shit, there's Elmo.
Bear in mind, we are not an Elmo household. Nothing personal, just haven't crossed that barrier yet. I found a book she never looks at with his picture but that's it. We've never seen him on TV before, at least not in our house, nor said a word to her about it.
What baby girl saw
Daycare claims they occasionally read books about him but never let them watch TV. The Street continues and there's Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, the letter L, the big hairy brown elephant thing that still freaks me out. Nothing. Okay, maybe that was just a fluke. She heard a funny word and decided to repeat it. Just a freak thing.
Baby girl eventually mustered enough steam to get off the couch to go poke the dog in the eye when we fire up episode number two. Which of course starts off with old Elmo. "el-MOE!" She turns and does a baby-sprint, stopping six inches from the tube.
"el-MOE. el-MOE. el-MOE."
Over the next few days, we totally cave and let her OD on Sesame Street. She was sick! Don't judge me. We even take humor in her little Elmo fetish and say his name to her just to hear her say it back. She stresses the 'mo' making it sound like Spanish for 'the mole.' Or whatever the hell el mo translates too. Regardless, it's pretty freaking cute.
Least it was cute. Two weeks later and the mole is officially ticking me off. I can't pick up the remote or even walk past the TV without my tweaking daughter yelling "el-MOE". She'll break out tears occasionally and do her angry-making-a-snow-angel-on-the-carpet routine when he fails to appear. It's been a week since her last hit of the Street and the attacks seem to be winding down. But how did this orange-red, wannabe Muppet get an 18 month old girl absolutely addicted? Is it his voice? His shag carpet doo? The unblinking eyes? Is his mere presence a drug he deals to innocent toddlers? Red means you're a Blood right? Is she going to have a thing for older men??? Whatever it is, she wants Elmo.