Monday, May 2, 2011

Tequila-Me Elmo

Like most of America’s preschool set, S is captivated by Elmo and friends. Although she’s lately grown fonder of Dora and the harem of Dread Disney Princesses, the fuzzy red guy is still cool. When I saw a newspaper ad for Sesame Street Live, I couldn’t resist. Now that I was on maternity leave, I could do all of those wonderful things stay-at-home moms get to do with their little ones.

The show falls on a Wednesday, so S gets to stay home from preschool, enhancing the thrill of the day. We pack into the car, pick up my mother and head out to the theater, located in what Rio Rancho, NM has designated its “City Center.” (If by center, they mean the center of the desert, then that is an accurate description, as there is no housing, commercial activity, etc. for miles. But I digress).

After 50 minutes, we arrive. Excitement is in the air. Little girls flaunt Abby Cadabby fairy wings. Babies clutch Cookie Monster dolls. The scent of overpriced popcorn and nachos pervades everything.

We find our seats on the ground level. The lights dim and life-sized Bert and Ernie welcome the crowd. Immediately, the kid to our right bursts into tears and buries herself in her mother’s shoulder. I smugly pat S on the knee. My big girl isn’t crying. My own eyes, however, well with nostalgic tears. This is what parenting is all about. We are going to Make Memories.

As the Sesame Street crew breaks into song, S says in a shaky voice, “Mommy, I can’t see.”

“It’s okay!” I reassure her, pulling her onto my lap (a challenge since baby N is snuggled on my chest in the MobyWrap) and wrangle her this way and that until I’m positive she has a clear view of the stage. But to no avail—she starts to cry. I hug her and rock her, bursting with Happy Mommy hormones. After all, I’m cuddling two warm little bodies, their sweet heads within smelling distance—this is like crack for mommies.

But S is still upset.

New plan. We make our way to the tiered seating in the back and find an empty row. S settles down and watches. But within minutes, she’s sniffling again. “It’s too da-a-a-ark,” she moans. “I can’t see my h-a-a-a-ands.” I try not to roll my eyes and once again make room on my lap. (Naturally, because Grandma isn’t covered in ten pounds of sleeping baby, S doesn’t want to sit on her lap).

The show drags on. I wonder how the heck the actors can breathe (not to mention see) in their costumes. And how do they move those gigantic puppet mouths? To pass the time, I craft a love triangle murder mystery in my mind. Beneath its cheerful demeanor, Sesame Street Live harbors a dark secret. Far from “sunny,” the actors—chain-smoking, meth-fueled degenerates… 

I’m interrupted by intermission. Vendors appear selling huge Elmo balloons. As they make their way through the crowd, S bounces in her seat. “Look! That man is coming with my balloon!” Finally, some enthusiasm.

After shelling out ten big ones, I go back to our seats, triumphant, and present S with the balloon. She crosses her arms and looks away. “I don’t want it.”

I practice my yogic breathing and remember that we are here to Have Fun. My mom explains that S saw an ICEE vendor and really wanted one of those. As if that would happen. I want to tell her about the poor children in Africa who don’t have Elmo balloons, but the thought of how much food my poorly spent $10 could buy depresses me and I keep my mouth shut.

Act Two begins. Baby N has been asleep this whole time and at some point wakes up to nurse. Afterward she’s aware of the circus going on around her and has trouble going back to sleep. I stand up to walk her in the hallway when I hear sobbing. “Mommy, I want to go wi-i-i-th you.”

“Fine.” But N passes out after just a few steps—that MobyWrap is golden—and so we all sit back down. Telly leads the audience in some clapping and foot stomping exercises. My three-foot curmudgeon won’t stand up to save her life. She sits frowning, tiny brow furrowed.

At various points during the program, the puppets come off the stage and skip through the audience. Zoe bounds through the crowd and waves at our section. I look at S, hoping this will provoke a smile. However, since I have the one child in the Universe who hates Sesame Street Live, she is wailing. Again.

“What now?” I hiss. Happy Mommy is gone. She is hovering in the corner, watching everything from above while Mean Mommy takes over.

My own mother, choking back a giggle, explains that S is upset that Zoe only waved in our general direction and not specifically at her. OMG. I try to appease her with a cheese stick, but no. S wants orange cheese.

Twenty long minutes later, and the Nightmare on Sesame Street is over. As we reach the parking lot, S snatches Grandma’s walking stick and starts to run away. I grab her hand and she gives in, but decides it will be more fun to hold Grandma’s hand, too, and swing between us. This would be fine except that poor Grandma cannot do this. I explain that S needs to walk on her own. I say ‘walk’ but she hears ‘roll around on the ground screaming’.

I smile apologetically at the happy families sidestepping the spectacle that is us, and yank S off the ground. I carry her all the way to the car—N still strapped to my chest, the sadistic Elmo balloon merrily bobbing along, and Grandma limping as fast as she can to keep up. I strap the kids in and gingerly remove the string from my arm to stow Elmo away. I’ll be damned if we don’t play with that sucker later. Just as I start to close the trunk, the worn cover snaps back, and in an instant Elmo has escaped and is mocking me from 300 feet in the air. It’s about then that I start wishing I had a flask.

I get in the car and break the news about the balloon to S.

As though reincarnated by a Buddha, she says, “It’s OK, Mommy. That happens sometimes.” Utterly serene. Then, “Mommy? I peed. In my seat.”

Of course you did, honey. Of course you did.


  1. haha - that made me laugh! And I retract my offer to be the live in nanny :) - Abby

  2. Smart move, Abby. And thanks for commenting! =)

  3. This is marvelous! My once-three-year-old is now a thirteen year-old, but I remember those days so well. We once did an entire day of errands in the summer with her in her Chicks Rule nightgown - she was about three at the time. And though she doesn't remember the endless hours playing Barbies, Polly Pockets and Pretty Pretty Proncess, she remembers the day she spent on her nightgown. Go figure.

    Enjoy every moment you can...and blog about the others :-)

  4. Hahaha! This definitely made me laugh from a good healthy place.

  5. LOL... i can relate I am a mother of two yr old twins. And no matter how frustrated i get i always remind myself that in a day or two it wont seem as bad as it does at that moment. Keep doing what you are doing! The story was great

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    Lisa - we have definitely had pajama days! That's great that your daughter remembered. =)

    And twins, oh boy, I'd really be bonkers then. Anonymous, it sounds like you're doing the right thing!