My Daughter’s First Love is a Red Furry Monster

by Alison Friedman in Marvelous Madelyn, Mommy's Musings

The recent news about Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer genius behind (and under) Elmo has been a nightmare on Sesame Street. Clash has resigned due to accusations that came out about his sexual activity with three men. I’m not really looking to get into a discussion about the whole soap opera, but I would like to say that it’s just a tad bit interesting how these men are going public about their relationships with Clash that happened handfuls of years ago. This, after a widely available documentary about Clash and 20ish years of Elmo success as the icon of “Sesame Street” via books, videos, iPad games, and of course gimmicky toys. They knew what they were getting into and they’ve even since said their activity with Clash was consensual. Bottomline: The pitchforks and torches are glowing in dollar bills.

Since the news hit earlier this month, I’ve heard several moms dismiss Elmo. The character. You know, the red, squeaky-voiced guy. Who’s fake.

Kevin Clash is separate from Elmo. And frankly, his personal life is separate from his employment by “Sesame Street.” Elmo and what he stands for are foundations in toddlers’ worlds, and to see Elmo differently because of Clash’s current troubles is wrong. The children, Elmo’s biggest fans, have no idea that there even is a puppeteer in the first place.

I’m happy to say that Elmo is alive and well in our house. Madelyn is a huge fan of “Sesame Street” and she absolutely freaks out over the theme song like a 60s teenager at a Beatles concert. Her first kiss was with an Elmo doll and she happily points and squeals over her Elmo books. My mom even bought Madelyn her first novelty t-shirt that proudly displays a happy, smiling Elmo.

We’ve always joked that Bryan would lock up Madelyn in her room so that she’d never have contact with boys and go on dates, but I think she figured out a loophole in this plan. There’s no such rule against fraternizing with little red monsters! She loves Elmo very much and she’s fallen hard.

We love to go see Teacher Joy in our Mommy & Me class on Mondays. Her classroom has a larger-than-life Elmo doll that Madelyn has taken a liking obsession to. She runs in, grabs Elmo, and drags him around wherever she goes. It’s almost like she’s a married Jewish woman already. She never wants to put him down ever. She tantrummed until she was almost as red as Elmo when I tried to take him away so she could do an art project. And when faced with the option to eat Nilla Wafers and apples at snack time or hold onto Elmo, well, Elmo won.

She absolutely adores Elmo, and I’m so glad she doesn’t need to know about the overblown controversy regarding his genius creator. With so many wonderful words, feelings, and morals that Elmo teaches, I am glad that Madelyn loves him. I just wish that the men who’ve suddenly come into the limelight to damage Clash would take something away from Elmo’s teachings as well.