Thursday, February 16, 2012
My Toddler is Dating a Rock Star
When Emmy was just about to turn one year old, I swore to myself (and to my husband) that I wasn’t going to get her tons of birthday gifts. I even suggested that maybe it would be best if we didn’t buy Em ANY gifts, and we could rewrap some of her existing toys, so that she could rediscover the joy of the many objects she already owned. SHE wouldn’t know the difference, and because her memory isn’t fully developed, the experience wouldn’t cause her any lifelong trauma, right?
Then I had a disturbing vision of sitting with Emmy, years from now, looking through photos of her first birthday party. She notices a picture of herself pulling one of her ratty old bears out of a nicely wrapped box.
“Mommy, didn’t I see that bear in eight other baby pictures?”
And then I would have the choice of either lying to her (“no way, Em. That was the SPECIAL ISSUE ‘messy bear’ that came pre-stained. Kind of funny how your OTHER bear looks just like this one, huh? He he”) or telling her the truth (“yes, Em. Your mama is a cheapskate who thought you had too many toys”), neither of which would be pretty.
A week before Emmy’s birthday, I went to Toys R Us in a panic, hoping to find her the ONE perfect birthday gift. I must have been transfixed by the lights, the music, and the millions of toys that begged me to buy them, because the cart I wheeled up to the cash register was simply OVERFLOWING. I laughed nervously as the cashier rung up my obvious overindulgence, and tried to get the people standing on line to assure me that I had done the right thing. They didn’t. They told me I was buying enough presents for triplets, which was absolutely true.
I understood my issue. I was buying EVERY toy under the sun, in hopes that one of them would provide Emmy with endless joy. I wanted to find my daughter her very own Velveteen Rabbit.
So when the December holiday season rolled around, I quadruple pinky-swore (to myself) that I would NOT repeat the offense of buying my daughter too many presents. We have no more room in our house! As it stands, we have to lunge over clunky playthings as we make our way through the house.
I returned to Toys R Us, but with a renewed commitment to keeping my sanity in the midst of all the toy-buying propaganda, and I was relatively successful. By that I mean I had intended to get one toy, and I bought three. And when it turned out that Emmy only liked one out of the three gifts I bought her, I exchanged the two rejected toys (on the day after Christmas, no less. Fun times.) for… drum roll, please… Rock and Roll Elmo.
My daughter does not just love Rock and Roll Elmo. She LOOOOOOOVES him.
Admittedly, in my pre-motherhood days, I was staunchly opposed to Elmo. I thought our home was going to be an Elmo-free-zone, and that I wouldn’t have to hear his falsetto voice or see his all-too-limber muppet body bouncing around our abode. I really thought he was kind of annoying, and somehow convinced myself that Emmy could have an Elmo-free childhood.
And then one day, while we were out on a family shopping trip, Em caught a glimpse of Elmo on a store shelf and was immediately smitten. He made her smile. He made her laugh. He made her wave her hands in the air like a crazy person. So I gave in.
In the subsequent months, Em has accumulated about 5 different Elmo dolls, but none is as near and dear to her as Rock and Roll Elmo. You see, he sings. He dances. He moves his hands and feet in complex animatronic motions that make him seem like a real live being. He engages Emmy in his performance. Well, not JUST Emmy. Whenever and wherever Elmo sings in the house, we all sing and dance along (Dada knows the lyrics, Mama makes up new lyrics, and Emmy sings sounds that are remarkably close to the lyrics).
“Come on and play along.
You’ve got it! It’s a brand new song!
Rock to the beat and clap your haayayaaands.
Come be a part of Elmo’s BAND!”
How can you resist?
Emmy has taken her love of Elmo to a whole ‘notha level. When she wakes up in the morning, she asks for Elmo. When she comes home from daycare, she’s gotta find Elmo. During dinner, Elmo gets fed along with the rest of us. After dinner? Dance party with Elmo, of course! Emmy kisses Elmo, hugs Elmo, takes Elmo on walks around the house. It’s safe to say my daughter is dating Elmo. They’re “a thing.”
And I am the parent who, after at first HATING my daughter’s choice in boys, has come around to not just like him, but to love him as if he was one of my own.
In Rock and Roll Elmo, I found (albeit an unlikely) Velveteen Rabbit for Em. Even though she’s young, I’m kind of hoping this relationship lasts a long time, so I don’t have to go on another endless (and expensive) pursuit of the next perfect toy.
What is/was your child’s “Velveteen Rabbit”?