photo (9)My child is officially obsessed with Elmo. I really don’t know how or when it happened, but “Elmo” was, for better or worse, one of a handful of first words he learned how to say. I’m pretty that was calculated on Sesame Street’s part, since their ultimate goal is to get kids recognizing Elmo’s squeaky chirp from the womb. Whatever they’re doing is working, because Wee One adores Elmo and is visibly unsatisfied if I show him Sesame videos centered around other furry characters. If Elmo doesn’t at least make a cameo, the video is quickly deemed subpar.

Several friends and even a medical professional recently asked me, “God, don’t you f—ing hate Elmo?” At which point I smiled politely and answered back, “Oh, totally. YES.” The truth of the matter is, that although I can certainly see from an intellectual perspective how Elmo’s voice is grating, his relentless optimism is existentially deadening, and he kind of needs a shave, I FREAKING LOVE THAT MONSTER. Why? Because he keeps my one-year-old entertained. Like if I need to make phone calls. Or make lunch. Or write a blog post. Or even just rest my weary, weary feet. Elmo is consistently dependable, surprisingly poised (he hangs with so many celebrities! That dude must name drop ALL THE TIME, like can you imagine what he says to his friends? I just hung out on set all day riffing about octagons with the guys from Train, what did you do today?), and he looks pretty huggable, though maybe that’s just the lighting. Or the fur.

I have absolutely created a monster (pun intended) when it comes to Elmo. My child asks for Elmo with the same frequency as he requests milk, water, and “Mommy.” I never saw this coming; in fact, Elmo seemed to creep into our lives slowly, and then with the force of a fuzzy, gregarious hurricane. Sure, I probably played at least a small role in this problem, one I maybe could have prevented by NOT downloading the “Elmo Calls” app on my phone, and probably by NOT saying “Elmo!” enthusiastically and then clicking on those insidious YouTube videos every time I needed to go pee. But I did. And at this point, all I can say is, “At least it’s not Caillou.”

Is your child obsessed with Elmo or another equally exasperating (but secretly awesome) character?