Who would’ve thought a furry red monster would bring so much joy to little hearts? When I first brought home a plush Elmo chair from our local “Twice as Nice” twins sale, it was love at first sight for our twins who were 18 months old at the time. For once I decided to buy them something slightly different and it worked out. Amazingly, Little Mister and Little Missy did not fight over the red Elmo chair. The Elmo chair was understood to be Mister’s while Missy accepted the purple Tinkerbell one.
First they saw what Elmo looked like. Then they learned his name. Then they realized he was a live character living on Sesame Street full of other lovable characters like Bert & Ernie (or “Boat & Oynee” in Toddler-speak). Cookie Monster was Elmo. Grover was Elmo. Anything cute and furry became Elmo.
Next up we started showing them Elmo videos on YouTube. I will never forget one of the first times we watched Elmo videos with our twins. It was almost bedtime and when the video ended, Little Mister got teary-eyed when we told him Elmo had gone to bed. It was really touching to see how much Mister loved Elmo and missed him. This was before we bought them Elmo stuffed toys which are now their most prized possession. When M&M wake up in the morning, it’s Elmo! Elmo! Elmo! until he is found. Then it’s “Dere Elmo!” (There’s Elmo!) Then Elmo gets plopped into their little shopping carts and off they go, racing around the house. Or Elmo is stuffed into a train or truck and leads the way for other stuffed animals.
Having a character they love can be handy. When Missy refused to brush her teeth, we broke out Elmo’s teeth brushing rap video. Quite catchy, actually. Although Missy was mesmerized by the video, it was Mister who got motivated to brush his teeth like Elmo recommends in the song.
What is it about this loveable character that young children (and adults alike) love? There’s a documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” which chronicles the pathway to fame for Kevin Clash, the voice behind Elmo. In the documentary it talks about how Elmo’s character came to be, and even how Clash got to learn from puppeteer masters such as Jim Henson himself.
Cute, cuddly Elmo is a child monster. Love and innocence are two of his qualities, which is why he resonates with young minds. Even down to the way Elmo talks in incomplete sentences and finds joy in the simplest things in life.
Granted, there is controversy surrounding Clash these days. But scandals aside, I am thankful for all the happy moments, smiles and hugs that Elmo has given my toddlers.
What are some characters your children love? Have you been able to use them as a tool for teaching or even discipline?
Ambereen’s B/G twin toddlers are helping her to reconnect with her childhood through Elmo and other Sesame Street characters.