Thursday, September 06, 2007

Confessions of a Furry Red Monster Lover

Clare is in love. And, yes, he is furry and red. I am always amazed at the affection for Elmo that seems to instantly spring up in our house. Maybe it's those big googly eyes? That annoyingly high voice? His big never-ending grin?

When Jamie was about 20 months old, he started talking about Elmo. He did not watch Sesame Street, we had no Elmo paraphernalia, never talked about the little guy. But, sure enough, Jamie knew who he was and pointed him out in stores, in magazines, anywhere he saw Elmo. (Maybe it's pre-programmed into modern toddlers' heads.) He received a large Elmo as a Christmas present and they were immediate best friends. We did not, however, go overboard with collecting Elmo gear (unfortunately that phase would come later with ninja turtles and superheros). Jamie had an Elmo-themed party for his second birthday and a couple board books - that's about it. So although Elmo was Jamie's constant companion for about a year, we were not on Elmo overload.

Flash forward two years. Lo and behold, Clare knows who Elmo is as well. She has seen maybe one episode of Sesame Street (as Elmo is now too babyish for Jamie, Clare watches "older" shows with him such as Dora and Backyardigans). I do not even know where our two Elmo books are on the shelf. Jamie's former beloved Elmo is buried in the back of the stuffed animals. We have been Elmo-free for at least a year now. But, for some reason, Clare can recognize Elmo anywhere as well - she points and says "Elmo" whenever she glimpses something that even kind of (sometimes not really) looks like Elmo. A new generation of Elmo-lovers has begun.

Clare has been having "violent" temper tantrums for a few months now. I say "violent" in quotes because I do not know quite how to describe them except she needs to hurt herself during them and cannot calm down on her own. She often pulls her hair or bites her fingers and will scoot on her back across the room until she can hit her head on something hard, such as the wall or piano. Her OT and PT explain it as she needs the sensory input as a coping technique during a tantrum. Well, obviously, we don't like that she is hurting herself and do not want that to escalate, so we have been looking for other ways that Clare can soothe herself. Especially for the future when Mommy and Daddy cannot be there with her to help her calm down (such as when she goes to preschool). Enter Elmo. He is Clare's new transition toy. We found the cuddliest, softest Elmo we could find and purchased three of them (one for upstairs, one for downstairs, and one for on-the-go).

We were unsure how Clare would take to this because, although our kids have favorite toys, none of them has ever had a "lovey" that they have insisted go everywhere with them. The three Elmo's appeared in our house and the connection was, once again, immediate. Clare's face lit up, she uttered one word, "Elmo," and a friendship was made. Now Elmo goes everywhere with Clare. He can be seen either dragging along behind her or cuddled in her arms throughout the house. He is showered with hugs and kisses. He sleeps secure in her crib, snuggles with her in the car seat, and, yes, he is thrown and bitten during tantrums (better than biting herself!). So Elmo is doing his duty right now. Thank you, Elmo.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the theory that it pre-programed into their brains now. He represents love and goodness. He is so 'pure' and simple. I am glad that he is doing his magic with Clare. {Personally, I like super Grover!} Love to all, Aunt Joan

Katie said...

There is definatly something about Elmo...
i am glad Clare has found the little red monster to be so appealing!

Julie said...

Noah to loves Elmo. We have the chicken dance Elmo. He puts a smile on his face everytime. I am glad he is helping Clare out.

Heather said...

Good thinking!! I am glad that Clare can do that to Elmo and get the same relief. Yes, we had an Elmo stage too... a long time ago. He had a Tigger that bounced that he loved more though. it was the only thing that would make him laugh out loud.. Loved it! ~ Hope her tantrums get better soon. :) Heather

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing about the tantrums, Avery smacks her head with her hand when she is either sick or out of frustration and has also lightly banged her head on the floor, it makes me so worried and sad when she does this because I don't understand what is going on sometimes and find it truly disturbing. You sharing makes me feel better and distraction is usually the technique I use too. Avery's lovey is her "Snuggy", just a receiving blanket. It calms her for sure! And she uses it a lot a daycare. Avery has Elmo on video and has seen him probably 2,000 times. lol.

Nancy said...

Oh, we love Elmo here, too!

Erik has Stinky Puppy and Elmo to love. He, too, is beginning to show signs of outbursts, although he doesn't harm himself. They scare me a little because they are a complete personality change for my happy lil guy.