parenting

The Elmo Doll that Made Me Cry: A Take on Modern Toys

Well, Christmas has come and gone and with it is a brand-new influx of awesome toys in our household. I can honestly say that Henry, like many kids, made out like a bandit. He got some really great toys and books this year, thanks to our wonderful families. Some of his favorites are a box of tinker toys and a big poster from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, his favorite movie.

Looking over his toy haul this year, I was reminded of the one toy he got last year that I couldn’t wait to see go, a “Hug Me Elmo” doll. He got the doll from a distant aunt, who doesn’t read this blog, so I feel comfortable in saying that it was the most depressing toy that I have ever seen.

If people aren’t familiar with this thing, I’ll try my best to describe it here, but I highly recommend looking it up on YouTube, after taking your full dose of anti-depressants. OK, here’s this doll in a nutshell. It’s a two foot Elmo with animatronic arms that, when the child presses himself against the chest, it engulfs him/her in a servo motor induced hug. Elmo then says things like, “I love you” and “that feels good,” or some other creepy saying. But by far the worst function of this doll, for me, came when you laid it on it’s back and it would embrace your child and sing your  a lullaby. This is when the water works almost occurred.

Why, you might ask, would something that is, yes, so creepy make you break into tears, other than tears of fear? In my mind, which is very warped to say the least, I would picture the Elmo doll being thrown at some poor child and given as some form of replacement for an actual goodnight lullaby. Elmo was telling the child that they were loved because the parents no longer had time to say it to them anymore. And the servo motor hugs? Yup, the child was forced to endure red felted metal arms hugging them because his/her parents were too busy. My warped mind, I told you.

I couldn’t wait to see the doll go and looked for any excuse to get rid of it. Not only was it depressing me, but you would forget that you didn’t it shut it off and would step on it in the middle of the night, making it laugh it’s horrible Elmo laugh at you. I began to feel like Telly Savalas in that episode of the Twilight Zone where he goes head to head with “Talkie Tina”. Eventually, we moved and didn’t have “room” for “Hug Me Elmo” so he went to the ReSource Zone at the dump, o ff to haunt some other poor family.

However, after the Elmo doll was out of our lives, I began to notice that many of the toys that Henry played with had taken on some form of parenting, mostly in the form of positive reinforcement. It’s funny, I don’t have any problem with some overly caffinated female voice praising my son for getting his alphabet right, while I cook dinner. But I do draw the line when it comes to toys giving my son affection, I’ll leave that to the professional.

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