Sesame Place

This past weekend, we went to Sesame Place  I’d been hearing about Sesame Place for months. A few of my friends had gone with their kids, and loved it. A couple of Jo Jo’s therapists had suggested it. Both kids are completely obsessed with Elmo. I imagined the four of us blissfully floating on inner tubes, Grover beaming approvingly from land. Soaring over the park in a balloon basket under the benevolent eye of Big Bird. Scaling the heights of Cookie Mountain while Elmo cheered encouragingly on.

The reality was somewhat different.

 Teddy came down with a bad cold a couple days beforehand. Jo Jo had diarrhea. I brought them to the pediatrician, who reassured me they were fine to go. “That place is infested with germs—they’ll just get sicker once they’re there,” he said cheerfully. My husband, who had wanted to go up to our cottage in Canada for the Jewish holidays, was sulking that we weren’t up there instead water skiing. “This is almost as bad as when you made me trade in my Mini Cooper for a minivan,” he said.

 We meant to leave early Saturday morning but didn’t get out of the house until close to 11 am. We started out, then spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out why the GPS didn’t have us getting there until 4 pm. It turns out my husband had accidentally set it to avoid highways. We got on the I-95 only to hit terrible traffic in Greenwich. We decided to take another route, only to get stuck for thirty minutes behind a drawbridge. Teddy, who had been napping, woke himself up when he pooped. He screamed for the next two hours. Non stop.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we realized we had gotten into the wrong line for parking and needed to switch lanes. No one would let us in. I figured a little humor would defuse the situation. I grabbed the kids’ Elmo puppet and rolled down my window, motioning to the woman in the car next to us. There was a crucifix hanging from her dashboard and she was smoking a cigarette, two babies strapped in car seats in the back. “Excuse me,” I said, pretending to make Elmo talk. “Can you let us in?”

She glared at me then gave me the finger.

My husband shook his head. “Sesame Place is a bad, bad place,” he said.

We finally made it into the park and found my sister Shira, her husband Mark and our niece Tahlia in one of the water pools. Jo Jo was asleep in the double stroller and Teddy was sucking on his hand, staring off into space, glassy eyed. The place was packed. There were mothers sporting skimpy bikinis and dragon tattoos chattering with each other while their children tried to dunk each other in the water. A few fathers stood around, looking bored. A mother wearing Mickey Mouse flip flops walked by, yanking her son, who looked about five, after her. “If you don’t stop yelling, I’m going to deck you right here right now and embarrass you in front of everyone!” she screamed.  

Amid all the bedlam, it still seemed like something was missing. Then I realized. “Where are Elmo and Big Bird?” I asked.

My sister didn’t know but the woman standing next to us did. “The characters stay away from the wet fun attractions,” she said. “They’ve had issues in the past with people pushing them into the pools.”

The afternoon went slowly downhill. Teddy refused to go in the water and started screaming every time we tried to coax him in. Tahlia refused to leave the water pools and began to scream every time we tried to make it over to the land based part of the park. Then my brother in law and my husband decided to take Teddy and Tahlia on one of the water rides and my sister started screaming when she realized it was the roller coaster like ride Sky Splash instead of the toddler-friendly Rubber Ducky Pond. And Johanna woke up from her nap hysterically crying.

Everyone calmed down once we dried off and caught a live show of Elmo’s World, followed by a romp through Big Bird’s Court. Teddy and Jo Jo loved Big Bird’s Nest, which was a toddler play area filled with large soft blocks.  Teddy would stand up and, arms extended, would proudly walk a few steps before tumbling down and rubbing his face against the plastic squishy flooring. Mothers beamed. “Isn’t that little boy adorable.” Then he stood up with a huge river of snot dripping down his face. Everyone stopped smiling and gave us dirty looks. We exited soon after, stopping to take in the Rock Around the Block parade with all the Sesame Street characters .

The next day everyone was in a much better mood, even though it was pouring rain. We hit the character breakfast. The Elmo one was sold out, so we went to Cookie’s shindig instead. Ernie and Bert were in attendance, as was Abby. No one was paying any attention to Telly, who wandered around looking forlorn.

Johanna was fascinated by Abby. She followed her around, patting her behind and saying “nice, nice.”

Teddy fell in love with Cookie monster. He kept hugging him and burying his face in Cookie’s fur.

After a while, I pulled him away. Call me neurotic, but I always wonder about the people who wear those costumes. It just seems like the perfect job for a pedophile.

The rain stopped and we had a blissful morning on all the different rides (highlights were Elmo’s Flying Fish and Grover’s World Twirl). Then at around noon we decided to pack it in. It appeared that Tahlia might have developed pink eye and Jo Jo was so overtired she was hyperactively running around in circles. We gave each other hugs goodbye, and my sister and I decided that we’d have to do the trip again. In about ten years.

The ride back home was much less eventful. There was no traffic and Teddy slept the entire way. Jo Jo watched her Elmo’s World video. Jamie and I fought for a bit and then talked about our weekend. “It wasn’t so bad, was it?” I asked. “No,” he admitted. We talked about how great it was to spend time with my sister and brother in law and how awesome it was that Jo Jo, Tahlia and Teddy were all each exactly nine months apart. We marveled at how much Jo Jo had been able to walk on her own and that she had been able to climb up and down stairs by herself without any help from us. We agreed that the weekend made an absolutely perfect first post for my new blog.

Then he was quiet. I could tell a deep thought was coming.

“What is it?” I asked.

It turns out that during the parade, he had been listening to the people around him, struck by the different dialects and even in some cases different languages. And he had noticed a brief silence that fell upon the crowd when Elmo had arrived on the scene, flocked on each side by Grover and Murray Monster. Then the excited, almost hypnotic chanting had started. “Elmo, Elmo Elmo!”

“You know,” he said thoughtfully, “Maybe your next blog post should explore whether or not Elmo is the Messiah.”

It seemed an appropriate musing to end the weekend.