As a kindergartner I remember jumping in my mother’s sofa and singing along to Elmo’s songs with my mouth filled with Cheese Trix. There was something about this little red monster that stole my heart and the hearts of many others. I remember his unique personality and how he would always refer to himself in the third person (guess I watched too much Sesame Street, as I sometimes myself doing that). I remember how the words, letters and numbers of the day and how they would always end up in Elmo’s songs which always had the tune of Jingle Bells.
It was a very huge blow for me when I was told that he was being temporarily or maybe even permanently removed from the production, due to sexual misconduct charges being filed against his puppeteer, Kevin Clash. In 1996 and 2006, Tickle Me Elmo Toys were most popular for that Christmas and is still a very sought after collectible item. It is funny how we may have something and take it for granted and only really see it’s use and value when it’s gone.
Elmo taught me important life lessons (no, not improper grammar) that i’d like to share.
- Don’t Be a Puppet- While this may sound odd, considering that Elmo is a puppet, it is really the most important lesson. Some of us allow people to live their lives through us or to direct our every move. While this may work to our advantage for a very long time,it has great disadvantages. When something goes wrong, we are the ones that receive the blame- not the persons that pull our strings or push our buttons. We are then left to face the music on our own while our character lies in the hands of fate.
- Socialize, But Having One Good Friend Is Wise- I always admired our warm and friendly Elmo was to everyone- regardless of age, gender or social status. He was very sociable, but I always observed that when he needed a strong opinion or to clear his head- he would consult his best friend, Dorothy. Whilst Dorothy is only a pet fish, she is symbolic of a good friend, one who is always in your corner and always there when you need them most- ready to give a listening ear and offer social support.
- You Are As Good As Your Last Appearance- I remember the late night phone call I received from my dear friend. “Chev, you hear that Elmo is a pervert?” I wondered exactly how a character could be a pervert, but sleep wouldn’t let me think, so I told her to send me the link via Facebook. It was then I read the story and thought about how it was that people hardly remember the good or average things you do, but only remember the bad and allow it to be the ‘image’ they have of you. I am sure if the creators of Elmo did something spectacular with this character then most of this negativity would vanish. My advice to you, be spectacular as often as you can and maintain it, as you will be remembered based on the last ‘big’ thing you did.
- We Are All A Little Crazy- I remember in my Abnormal Psychology lectures how my classmates were always trying to diagnose themselves with every new disorder we learned about. It was then that the lecturer said to us that we will always find a few of the characteristics of certain mental illnesses or disorders that fit us, but, unless we fit all the criteria- we do not have it. One has a mental illness when their cognition is skewed, when their mood patterns are irregular and regular behaviour is not present. Still even if these are a reality, we do not seek treatment unless our function is impaired. I said all that psychobabble to say, we are all crazy in some way, but once we are functional… it’s no longer called crazy- it’s called individuality- the trait that makes us unique.
- Getting A Big Break Often Takes Time- Sometimes we sit and wonder when our breakthrough will come and frankly, sometimes it seems like never. Sometimes we see others striving and we feel downtrodden. It is at the weakest point in our lives that we are usually picked up and used for something great. In 1984, the creators found it difficult to write a script for Elmo as they couldn’t find a personality to give him and like an angel Kevin Clash appeared! It was at that point that the Elmo we know now was born and became the most successful character on Sesame Street. I was told that sometimes angels come in our lives for different reasons and most times it is to help us overcome hard times. Kevin Clash, the person who gave Elmo all that he now has, is the same person that almost took it all back. Well, that’s life, we win some and we lose some, what is important is that we pick ourselves up and move on.
Think about it…. Give thanks for your blessings and sing la la la la, who knows, there may be greater things in store for us ahead!