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.