Monday, February 22nd, 2010...6:35 pm

Elmo Loves You

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I’ll just start by admitting it. Elmo made me cry.

“Why am I going?” asked Ken as we headed to meet my parents, who had taken Nora for the day so I could catch up with work.

“Because this is Nora’s first big outing. Because it’s Elmo. These are things parents do for their kids,” I answered.

I had told Nora we were going to see Elmo, but how much she understood of what was about to happen, I had no idea. In my motherly brain I had made this out to be a big moment for my little baby. She was about to see Elmo dance and giggle on a stage right in front of her. To me, this seems pretty close to bliss for a two year old who clearly loves all things Elmo. Sitting in the Erwin Center, Nora on my lap vigorously sucking her thumb, looking at an empty stage, I was the one who was excited. Ken made fun of me.

After waiting for 30 minutes, after hearing Nora ask for Big Bird and Elmo to “come out,” after dragging Ken to the theater, Sesame Street Live started – and there was Elmo, right before our very eyes. And surprisingly, mine began to water.

It was over the top cheesy – songs about imagination and the power we possess to transport ourselves to the places of our dreams – but it was exactly what I had expected. I somehow felt like I did when my father lovingly took me to a New Kids on the Block concert in 6th grade. I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to be that close to the idols I saw on television and in the magazines I had cut up and plastered all over my walls. I wonder if my father’s eyes teared up at Joey MacIntyre too? My guess is yes.

I imagine this is a truth of parenting – that nothing makes us happier than when we feel like we are giving our children opportunities to experience joy. That our children’s idols are our idols too. And to a two year old, real live Elmo and Abby is a pretty sure bet for excitement. So when they were there and I was imagining the excitement that Nora would feel, though not yet be able to fully express, my eyes filled up.

And then I looked over at my mom.  And her eyes were also filled with tears. Maybe the joy compounds – the idols transcend generations.

Nora didn’t exactly scream with joy. She followed her normal pattern of studying the new experience under a microscope, assessing the new sounds, songs, people and places. After intermission her studying was over, though, and Elmo kicked off the second act, bringing Nora to life. She extracted the thumb from her mouth, shimmied along with Elmo’s song, played the drums on her lap as Elmo suggested, clapped excitedly and smiled from ear to ear with the conclusion of each number. And when I asked her if she was ready to go, she said, “One more song.”

Ken was surfing his iPhone, I was getting hungry, the shrill voice of the only human character was beginning to grate, but we stayed for every song. At the end Elmo said, in characteristic third person that is so endearingly toddler-like, “Elmo loves you.” And, holding Nora tight, I told him that I love him too.

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