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Big Guy goes back to Elmo’s World

Submitted by on Monday, 23 August 2010 No Comment

When Big Guy was a toddler Elmo always was there for him – on his second birthday cake, on his Halloween costumes, on “Sesame Street” as Mommy fed That Baby Who Ruined His Life.

In recent years he’s given away all the Elmo gear, though not without a bit of nostalgic melancholy. He’s been very, very picky about to whom we handed it down. When he couldn’t find anyone worthy of the last Elmo plaything, I had to sneak it out of the house in the dead of night almost two  years ago, killing my car battery in the process.

But just as Bear, his well-worn lovey, has reappeared in Big Guy’s life of late, so has the furry red monster. I owe Elmo a huge thank-you for that. He’s reached Big Guy on a level that I haven’t been able to in months, letting him let loose of all the pain he’s been feeling but often can’t or won’t express.

It started last week, when the “Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families” was appearing at Fort Irwin. We hadn’t planned on going, because we had a lot going on. Plus I figured the guys were too sophisticated for Elmo.

Big Guy saw a neighbor playing with a toy that had been handed out at an earlier showing, and the next thing I knew we were piling into the car.

Had Elmo been regulation size, I don’t think he and Big Guy would have connected. This Elmo, though, was larger than life, which led Big Guy to assume that he’s a teen-ager now. And teen-agers are so much cooler than 3-year-olds. Cool enough that Big Guy glowed for hours after the giant Elmo gave him a hug.

Cool enough that when Boots suggested this weekend that we watch the “Talk, Listen, Connect” DVD we’d gotten for free at the show, Big Guy didn’t gripe even though it was his brother’s idea.

Big Guy started off nodding and smiling as Elmo’s dad explained that he had to leave for a long time. Can’t I go with you, Elmo asked. I wish you could, but I can’t take you, Dad responded.

“Hey! Daddy said the same thing to us,” Big Guy recalled.

The guys also were astounded that Elmo and his mommy do many of the same things we do. We write letters, and we talk to Dad on the computer. Elmo’s Dad left his trumpet, and their Dad left various boots, running shoes and berets that the guys have used to create a display on top of the stereo.

Big Guy was even more enamored with the interspersed footage from real military families. When one dad talked about his son showing off his karate moves on Skype, Big Guy nodded and smiled some more. “Hey! We did that, too!”

Slowly,  his joy at discovering common bonds with people both real and furry turned to something else. He buried his head deep into a cushion, and at first I thought the sniffles were due to allergies. When his chest started heaving, it became obvious that something else was going on.

When I walked over, he wouldn’t look up. “I … miss … Daddy … so … much …” he sobbed. And he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed for ages before he finally agreed to let me hug him. It was so raw. So painful.

And so necessary. Even though we’d had a long “it’s OK to be sad” cuddle just last month, in recent days he’d gone through bouts of anger. No matter how much I tried to get him to talk about what was bothering him, I couldn’t convince him to open up.

At least Elmo finally could.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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