Deprogramming the Cult of Elmo

Elmo PlushAbout seven weeks ago Maggie started asking to watch Sesame Street as opposed to the Chica Show. She was asking for it by the name “Seesee shee,” which was pretty understandable as her attempts to convey she wanted to watch it.

She’d watch about 10 minutes cuddled up on me followed by getting down and playing with her toys, only occasionally looking over at the screen when a different Muppet came on. We knew there was some reaction to the Flying Fairy School as she doesn’t particularly care for the troll, but beyond that it seemed like a pretty harmless event to put it on for some background noise and cuddle time.

About five weeks ago I found out that Maggie was watching the occasional Sesame Street and educational video at daycare. Didn’t really have a problem with that as Maggie seems quite connected to the world around her and was not a baby TV zombie.

Elmo Sit and SpinFour weeks ago she started asking to see Elmo… she’d make sure that she emphasised Elmo’s name in every possible combination so that we would get that she wanted to watch… we assumed at that point it was just her new words for Sesame Street. She’d be in the car coming home and you’d hear “Ermo, ero, emro, elo, elmah, erhmo, emmo, uhmo,” and any other variation on this.

This was fine and dandy at the start – we’d click on SS, let her watch a few minutes, it seemed when she was asking for Elmo that her time she wanted to watch was significantly less. She’d get annoyed. I realized she only wanted to see the segments with Elmo in them.

The hourish-long Sesame Street was narrowed down to maybe 8 minutes of intense Elmo watching, after which she’d get on with her works of attempting to change her baby’s diaper or staring deeply into a doll’s butt to see the mysteries of the universe.

Elmo Bubble BathThe DVR stopped recording Sesame Street, my guess is there were no new ones on, and none on-demand that we found, so to appease the little Elmo addict I’d pop open Amazon Prime video on the XBox, hit the current season, and find where they’d stashed the Elmo: The Musical bits. It’s usually about 40-50 minutes in if you’re looking.

Maggie watches with intensity with how many remotes it takes to get Elmo, I think she’s trying to memorize “turn TV on with black remote, turn xbox on with white remote, change input with small remote, get the white remote and navigate to Amazon Video…” She also figured out that there is no end of Elmo. Fast forwarding and rewatching and watch anytime are already somehow in her concept.

So with her absurd love and requirement for Elmo, she’s now got some bubblebath, bath book, a couple of books including Elmo, a chair and a doll. There’re plans to get her something for her birthday, but I hope to have her deprogrammed by then. Either that or create learning puzzles that she’ll have to solve to get her Elmo.

I’d heard about this from some friends that somewhere around 18-20 months old toddlers are inducted into the church of Elmo. I just never thought it could happen to mine. I’ve watched friends go from Anti-Elmo to sad acceptance that Elmo is now a part of their life.

I’m not particularly worried, she doesn’t watch much, she does a happy dance when he’s on and when he’s gone, he’s gone and she does other things. I think that’s a pretty good state to be in for any activity.

Hoping we can move onto some other 10 minute a day obsession as I’m getting a bit tired of the red monster. Also need to have words with daycare about this introduction into the red cult of Elmo.