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Reel Mama: The “El-Mama”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The “El-Mama”

To every parent of a toddler or preschooler, Elmo is the undisputed hero, when you just need that extra five minutes to scarf down that sandwich. In our household, Elmo reigns supreme.  But I found out just how much a few months ago, when I was weaning my daughter at 17 months and working on helping her sleep through the night.  We had put Leilani down for the night, but as usual she was putting up a fight.  “Mommy!” she cried.  Silence.  “Daddy!”  More silence. And then: “Elmo!” 

I’m not sure what my daughter was expecting.  A big furry red creature approaching her bedside to comfort her?  How frightening.  But then I thought, maybe this isn’t so crazy. Maybe I should buy said suit for my husband, or, if he refuses, for myself, so that we could provide our daughter with the comfort she is craving.  Mommy and Daddy just aren’t cutting it anymore.  We need to take it to the next level.  We need to become Elmo. 

Elmo’s newly acquired status was confirmed a few days later.  I had left Leilani briefly in her painstakingly baby-proofed nursery to go to the bathroom.  Predictably she was standing at the baby gate, but what she said was unpredictable.  She wasn’t calling for me or even Elmo for that matter.  She was calling for “El-mama.”  Yes, she had conflated “mama” with “Elmo.” I quickly realized what Leilani was actually looking for: she was hoping for a hybrid creature, half mommy and half Elmo, to come to her rescue!

“El-mama” is so much easier for a 17-month-old to pronounce and so much more convenient.  Yes, Elmo was now on a par with me, or maybe I was now on a par with Elmo.  I’m not sure.  He had achieved the highest status anyone can achieve in a baby’s developing mind.  Elmo had ascended the mommy pedestal, and he was trying to knock me off.

And yet, I am eternally grateful to Elmo, for he has enabled me to keep my sanity in those little moments when I just need a break, or even a bit of cheering up.  Before I became a mom, Elmo annoyed the hell out of me.  But now I’m kind of okay with sharing my pedestal.


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