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Preaching From The Book Of Elmo

I think I’ve confessed before that I
didn’t really watch Sesame Street growing up; between
parental controls on television-watching and endless hours of
ballet class, I pretty much missed all the kids’ shows,
making me culturally illiterate around my friends. However,
I’ve been making up for lost time with my daughter.

We began to let Maddie watch television
when she turned two, with the following caveats: One educational
show a day, and an adult has to watch it with her so we can
interact about it and don’t use it as a babysitter
(we’ll see how long that lasts). Having already fallen in
love with Elmo (thanks to multiple presents from Uncle Daniel),
Maddie quickly expanded her love to include all things Sesame

Every day we tivo Sesame Street, and almost every afternoon after
her nap Maddie asks to snuggle up with me and watch it. We pause it
and talk about the number and letter of the day, or discuss what
Elmo’s thinking about on Elmo’s World. I’m amazed
at how much she grasps from what she watches; she’ll often
spend several hours afterwards discussing a story line that really
makes her think.

For my part, I’m truly impressed with Sesame Street and the
things they teach. Sharing and taking turns, babies who are
adopted, how to understand the number “0”, cooperation,
going to the doctor – all are covered in a kid-friendly way
that clearly sticks with the pint-sized viewers. Maddie will lie in
bed during our bedtime routine asking questions about Gina’s
adopted baby Marco, or where exactly Iceland is since Grover just
visited it.

As a family, we’ve seen Sesame Street become a sort of
short-hand translator for life situations that Maddie doesn’t
understand. When Maddie picks up a ball that isn’t hers at
the park and doesn’t understand why she can’t keep it,
I’ll say, “Remember when Elmo and Zoe found a ball and
had to learn how to share it?” Or if she can’t
understand why she has to be the one to always share a swing,
I’ll say, “Remember when Mr. Noodles and his sister
took turns on the swing?”

The best one was the doctor a few months ago. Elmo wanted to know
all about going to the doctor, and we saw a little boy go through a
check-up. Maddie loved the idea of “re-enacting” that
scene, and we practiced multiple times before her actual visit. The
whole time leading up, I was saying, “Ok, this is the part
where the little boy took off his shirt so the doctor could hear
his heart. Remember?” And so on. Of course, she still had a
meltdown, but afterwards was lucid enough to say, “I cried at
the doctor. Elmo’s friend didn’t cry.”

So if you’re in, say, the post office or grocery store and
hear a woman saying to her toddler, “Remember when Big Bird
did this?” or “Remember when Alan helped Telly do
that?” I’m not delusional – I’m just
putting things in context for my kiddo.


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