Wednesday, November 3, 2010


My mother-in-law Carolyn tells the story of her father Charles going to the store with his grandson, my partner, Ted, when he was a toddler. Ted began screaming for something, and wouldn’t let up, and frustrated, Charles brought him back home and told Carolyn about it. “What would you do?” Charles asked her.

“I’d just give him the goddamn thing,” Carolyn replied.

That more or less sums up Ted’s parents philosophy on dealing with a toddler, and by extension, ours. You can and should certainly say no sometimes, but you pick your battles. Thus, when we were at Target recently, and Mikey saw a box of these organic yogurt rice crispy bars from Earth’s Best, we thought, “Sure, could be worse,” and we gave them to him.

Needless to say, it wasn’t the organicness that attracted Mikey, or the calcium or brown rice grain, or event the vanilla flavor. It was the image of the Sesame Street star Elmo, or “Melmo” as Mikey calls him, on the box. The insidiousness of fictional character promotion. There is no doubt of Mikey and Melmo which one is the puppet.

Much like the monster of Dr. Frankenstein came to be called Frankenstein himself, the organic yogurt rice crisp bars have become known as “Melmo” in our house. I don’t know why “organic yogurt rice crisp bars” isn’t as catchy, but that’s the way it is. And Melmo, I must tell you, is toddler crack.

On the plus side, there is nothing that Mikey won’t do for the promise of a Melmo. He could be in the middle of the biggest snit, and we murmur, “If you have a bath, change your clothes, comb your hair, and pick out a book for bedtime, then you can have a Melmo,” and he will rush to the bathroom, ripping off his clothes. On the minus side, the minute he is finished devouring the last delectable morsel of Melmo, the next two words out of his mouth: “More Melmo!”

We are experimenting with giving him half Melmos with mixed results. There may need to be an intervention.