Outgrowing Elmo

I visited a dear friend when Thalia was about two. The friend also had a daughter the same age, and a five year-old too. I made some sort of pandering Elmo reference to the little girl as we tried to get her to eat her apple sauce.

“Oh, she’s over Sesame Street,” my friend said. “That won’t work.”

“How can a two year-old be over anything?” I asked, more shocked than judgy. Or maybe a little more judgy than shocked. It’s hard to say. I was shocked. (And judgy.)

“Because her sister is onto Dora. So that’s that.”

That exchange stuck with me all these years. And I remember thinking (judgily) how sad–that little two year-old, robbed of her furry monster-loving, innocent toddler years in exchange for a slicker, flashier, animated romp with a fat-headed girl with no sense of color coordination, whose absentee parents allow her to traipse across the Mexican countryside by herself.

No Sesame Street by preschool? Outgrowing Ernie and Bert in your first 24 months on this planet? Sounds like communist business to me.

Enter: 2010.

Oh, hello irony. Nice to meet you. Thanks for punching me in the face.

The guy in the giant Elmo suit outside the Central Park zoo on Saturday scared the crap out of Sage, and she hardly knows the difference between Abby Cadabby and Zoe. Poor guys never stood a chance, what with Dora ruling the TV by declaration of Queen Thalia. Who herself is already close to outgrowing the Noggin crew, as she’s now flirting with the world of Discovery Kids and Cake Boss.

(And yes, I see my girls’ growth in terms of TV watching and pop culture references. Got a problem with that?)

Other five year-olds are starting to say things like “Dora is for babies,” and no doubt, in time one will say it to Thalia and that will be the end of that.

I have to admit, it all makes me a little wistful.

So in a way, as much as that high-pitched, too-loud cartoon voice makes me a little twitchy, I’m okay that my daughters continue to be in love with the over-excited explorer girl. I sort of liked that Thalia was so excited for Dora’s Big Birthday Somehing-or-other Super Special One Hour Show That’s Probably Not that Special on Sunday, that she drew a picture of Dora with the number 8 as a “memo” to herself to remind herself to tune in. I like that she’s proud that she knows how to say estrella and vamanos, and I think it’s sweet hearing Dora implore, Say map! and knowing my girls still answer back without hesitation.

I also kind of liked that the biggest debate in our home last night was an knock-down, drag-out fight (between Thalia and Sage, not me and the girls) about whether Boots is a boy.

Sage said no.

Let me tell you, some of you people on Twitter must have some very interesting gender discussions in your home.


Thanks Michelle, Laura, Julie, Magda, Catherine, Danielle, and Abby for reminding me that kids are cute and awesome and perfect just the age they are.

And that we’re not the only family that spends far too much time watching Noggin.


27 thoughts on “Outgrowing Elmo”

  1. And we still call it Noggin, too. Nick Jr – bah.

    Apparently Boots has a “boy-like” voice according to my girls. I've also always noticed Isa seems to have a crush on Boots – just listen to how she says his name.

    “Hiii, Boooooooots…” *bats eyelashes*

    That iguana is totally into him.

  2. My kids had already gone to bed last night when I saw your tweet so I was not able to participate. I asked my 5 yr old this morning. With the flip of a hand and a DUH expression, “Boots is a boy. Because he sounds like a boy and he has red boots. And only boys would wear red boots.”

  3. When, oh, when, will you tackle the other pressing issue in pre-school television, just what animal IS Uniqua (of Backyardigans fame)? 😉

  4. Yes, and my first son teethed on sweet, colorful baby toys. His younger brother teethed on Star Wars figures. It started early and covers more than tv.

  5. At six, the child heavily influenced by the older neighbor kid had to take herself off Mystery Hunters after becoming afraid of the dark watching it. Now it's Trading Spaces (kid version) and some show hosted by Mario what'shisname from Saved By the Bell where pets do tricks and Cake Boss.

    It was really good to have that discussion about Mystery Hunters, though. I told her it was okay to put that show off for a few years if it was scaring her, and she hugged my neck, and I realized it's my job to help her negotiate this scary thing of growing up, wanting to stretch but still wanting to be a kid snuggled in next to her parents. Bittersweet.

  6. My daughter says Boots is a boy because he doesn't wear pink. Sigh.

    @FreeRange Pamela – I have been trying to figure that out for a considerable amount of time also! My best guess is a snail without a shell. She has antenae!

  7. It will always be NOGGIN (REBRANDING MY ASS!).

    Quinlan marked that darn movie on the calendar. And she's still in love with Dora, though many other 6 year olds have moved to the dark side. I.E. kid's shows without cartoons on that channel with the mouse.


    We often discuss why Boots has evolved so well and poor Curious George is left to grunt and groan.

  8. It's weird how quickly those TV phases pass. We've been through: Sesame Street, Dora, Disney Princesses, Disney Tween crap and now we're onto Food Network. That one is my favorite. Oh and they've found 80's sitcoms. Shrug. It works.

    Out of all those reasons about Boots? I think Catherine's Emilia has the best reasoning.

  9. @Christina – Totally. That iguana is crushing hard.

    The older siblings' influence is even stronger on the third child. I can count on one hand the number of Sesame Street episodes that Oliver has seen.

  10. My youngest never watches little-kid shows—I swear he's never seen an episode of Sesame Street b/c of his older sister—and he says DESTROY DORA everytime he sees her. Sigh. The third never has a chance.

  11. By 4, my daughter was into Hannah Montana, courtesy of teenaged aunts. And I was just grateful to get away from Dora and turn on some TV we both enjoyed (even if most of it went over her head). I know there are LOTS of people who will judge that . . .

    I get what people say about kids watching too much TV and being too heavily influenced and all that, but I'm still never gonna give it up. I was a credit short of being a film major in college and had a professor who was writing her dissertation about Sex and the City. So I'm firmly convinvced that watching TV can be classified as an academic endeavor 😉

  12. My 5yr old son has never watched Sesame Street because he has 2 older brothers who watch iCarly, SpongeBob or SportsCenter.

  13. Whenever I'm able to pry the remote away from one of my four (8y to 14y), I put on Sesame. And somehow they'll all watch it and laugh — appropriately — and marvel about how great it is.

    I'm a die hard Sesame Street fan. The anniversary book is present in my header, for crying out loud.

    Give me Elmo et al, or give me….I guess just turn off the tv.


  14. I went through the same thing recently with Bob the Builder. My son has loved Bob for YEARS, and I faithfully record the new episodes (which PBS apparently sold to someone who is screwing them up).

    But the other day he said, “I don't like Bob anymore” and I was just SHOCKED. I was all, “what are you talking about! We love Bob in this family!” Like he just denounced his favorite pasta dish or something.

    It made me sad.

    On the other hand, he is getting closer to complete Personal Hygeine Independance and I am not going to be complaining about THAT.

  15. Dude, just watching my kids outgrow their clothes makes me wistful. Stuff in any form is such a clear marker of time marching on. My four year old informed me that he would never wear earplugs to prevent swimmer's ear because he'd “look funny.” Knife to the heart. And at the pool the other day, he ditched me to play with a girl twice his age who could burp out the whole alphabet. I was appalled. He was entranced. I guess if he's into girls who can burp on command, he's all growed up.

  16. We were hot for Thomas the Tank Engine for a long time, but by the age of 3 we were over it. Now it's Scooby Doo, but my 5 year old is showing signs of moving to live action shows.

  17. Didn't Sage tell you for certain that Boots is a boy, because he doesn't have eyelashes? Assuming, of course, that all boys and men suffer from alopecia!

  18. Fabulousness.

    I've made peace with the pumpkin-headed, headache-inducing superheroine of my daughter's world.

    Forget about Boots' gender, what the heck's that yellow condom thing on the end of his tail?

  19. We just started watching Sesame Street at 14 months – I can't believe it will be over so soon! Yesterday in the car we watched for the 6th time the sing along DVD to help overcome some car sickness and I have to say I felt nastalgia setting in singing, “LadyBug Twelve at the LadyBug Picnic”

  20. my now-9 year old didn't go to a movie theater until he was…almost 6? I sneered at people who brought “little kids” to movies–those little kids just aren't ready, it's too loud, etc etc. Yeah. Well. Younger brother, at age 5, is such an old pro at the movie theaters by now that he orders the popcorn, grabs his own booster seat, and has a favorite spot in the theater. AND has seen several PG movies. The 2001 year old man (aka Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner) said once “you mock the thing you are to be.” I amend that to “you mock the thing you are to mother.” Sigh.

  21. “you mock the thing you are to be.”

    OMG!!! I'm going to be MY MOTHER?!?!

    Quickly…I need a tequila shot.

  22. You mean some day I may miss Elmo (or Melmo, as he's called in our house)? Is it wrong to desperately hope that child #2 skips the Elmo stage? At the moment, Elmo makes me want to stab my eyeballs out.

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