This is my daughter’s crew. Elmo, Abby, Cookie, Ernie and Burt. They are her buddies, playmates and confidants. She drags them across the floor, plants wet kisses on their noses, and whispers her secrets to them in toddler gibberish.
Three of them are so familiar to me that it’s like they were my own toys being passed on to her. Burt, Ernie, and Cookie Monster were as much a part of my childhood as they are of her’s now. My husband and I have become reacquainted with our old favorites. I’ve learned to appreciate the younger generation’s affinity for Elmo and Abby Cadabby.
Naturally as my school years came, I fell out of touch with the gang on Sesame Street. The songs and tales of my preschool years buried themselves in the back of my brain and became distant memories of peering up at my parents old TV set.
This weekend my girl spotted a pair of bright magenta sneakers amongst all the sparkly, bright shoes in the store. The smiling face peering up from her toes was all she needed to see. She cried when the clerk had to take off her Abby Cadabby sneakers to get the right size. She didn’t care if they squished her toes. They were Abby shoes after all.
My mom was babysitting a few weeks ago and called, “Hey, does Sesame Street still come on at 4:00pm?” I paused and laughed for two reasons. One, because my mother assumed a show came on the same time that it did 30 years ago, and two because I realized my kid has never had to know what time Sesame Street starts. She can watch it in an instant on the DVR, and the iPad.
When she goes to my mom’s house she has her pick of 20 Sesame Street books. Each of them has my maiden name in my mom’s handwriting in the inside front cover. One of them still has crayon scribbles I distinctly remember making during a tantrum as a child. They are all safely preserved, filled with familiar faces and stories my child now loves.
I’m not sure how my mom knew those stories would be so enduring. Maybe she was just sentimental about my love for Sesame Street. I can’t imagine I’ll throw away my daughter’s bundle of buddies either.
Maybe it’s because Sesame Street is once again a large part of my life, but I was genuinely sad to hear of the death of Jerry Nelson last week. He was the voice and puppeter who made Count von Count come to life. One day earlier this year, our little girl surprised us when she pointed to the Count in one of the books and gave her best impression of the friendly vampire, “Ah! Ah! Ah!”
The Associated Press
I feel like I owe The Children’s Television Workshop a debt of gratitude. Thank you for making something so fun and pure. Thank you for creating characters that feel like friends, singing songs I still know the words to, and teaching lessons that continue past childhood. Thank you for sweeping the clouds away and bringing sunny days to another generation.