Elmo, Lego, books: Kids and their obsessions

What are your kids’ obsessions? I’ll start: My two-year-old is obsessed with Elmo. The minute she opens her eyes in the morning, she starts chipping away at my sanity with the relentlessly hopeful query, “Elmo? Elmo?” She doesn’t have time to wait for me to change her nappy or get her milk or brush her hair. She wants to watch Elmo and she wants to watch him NOW. She sits on the sofa with me beside her, and every few minutes she’ll look point at the screen, then look up at me and declare, satisfied, “Elmo.” Yes, I see him, kid. I’ve been seeing this same episode every morning for a week because she won’t let me choose a new one. YouTube must have 1,000 Elmo videos but she only wants to watch the one with the zoo animals.

Master Seven is obsessed with Lego. This is not new to his list of obsessions; it’s been ongoing since he discovered them several years ago and it’s only got more pronounced as time passes. He makes up elaborate stories about the worlds he builds, and leaves minifigures all over the house. Every time I empty the washer I find Lego pieces clonking around in the drum, having escaped from his pockets. He brings Lego into the bath, to bed, to the dinner table, to jump outside on the trampoline. I hear him yelling, “Ow! Ow!” as he accidentally lands on one while he’s jumping. He drops them in the grass, where they get mangled by the lawnmower.

Miss 13 is obsessed with books. When she turned 13, her father and I magnanimously raised her bedtime to 9pm, because we knew she’d been staying up reading until 9pm anyway. Now she’s staying up until 9.30pm reading and her dad and I feel like idiots. Because how do you stop a kid from reading? Reading is good for them. So is sleep. The two are not mutually exclusive, unless you’re 13 and already starting to suspect you know better than your parents because they’re SO lame. Or whatever word kids these days are using to describe their parents. (In my day, it was “uncool”.)

I wish I could remember what my obsessions were, back when I was a little kid, a million uncool/lame years ago. I know I was into Barbies in a big way. In fact, when I was 16, my best friend Jill and I locked ourselves in her bedroom and played Barbies for hours one day. We never talked about it afterward. But it was so much fun. I was also into books, and stayed up way too late reading with a torch under the covers when my parents thought I was sleeping. I liked Lego, but my younger brothers were more into it than I was. And Elmo wasn’t around when I was a kid.

But apparently, my mother has just reminded me, my first obsession was Sesame Street. “You watched it three times a day,” she said. “The same episode played three times a day at different times, and you knew exactly what time it would be on. And you wouldn’t take a nap until you’d seen it all three times. It. Drove. Me. Up. The. Wall.”

Gotta go. A mum needs her sleep before another morning of “Elmo? Elmo?” and fishing Lego out of the washing machine.

Katherine Granich

Editor, Tots to Teens

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