When Harper was first learning how to talk I experienced one of those unsettling moments so many parents share. Between sweetly muttering things like “Dada!” and “Mama!” she pointed to a slightly deformed image on a child’s t-shirt and identified it: “Elmo!”
How the shit did she know who Elmo was?
The kid hadn’t seen Sesame Street, didn’t own any Elmo paraphernalia, and here she was, laughing and clapping in delight at the little red giggler. It’s like Elmo is just in the air for toddlers. They just KNOW. It’s really creepy. Then the other day Harper found a book at the library (probably where she was first exposed to the adorable contagion) called “Elmo Loves You.” And despite the many other tastefully illustrated and metrically sound picture books I had checked out for us to enjoy together, somehow I’m reading this happy-go-lucky dreck over and over.
Today I had a revelation. Elmo loves you… hm … wait … something familiar about that phrase … what could it be? Oh right! JESUS loves you! And then it hit me: Elmo is very much like Jesus.
1. Elmo and Jesus both love you.
2. People just KNOW about both Elmo and Jesus, even if they’re hazy (like me) on the details.
3. Elmo and Jesus both know how to talk to people in just the right way to get their message heard. I.E. Elmo talks about himself in the third person just like actual toddlers do, and Jesus told parables. Am I right?
4. Their fans are very devoted.
5. Most people don’t know that both Elmo and Jesus are actually black.