A couple weeks ago I needed to get some chores done so I flipped on Sesame Street and for the first time, Abi sat and watched the whole thing. Little did I know this would begin her strange love affair with Elmo the little red monster. I want to take this opportunity to say that I didn't push Elmo on her or try to entice her into liking Elmo in any way. It was of her own initiative. As my friend Danielle says, "Elmo is like crack for toddlers." Ever since then we watch Sesame Street most mornings. This past Thursday (besides watching NBC's Brian Williams wear a clip-on tie and eat Oscar the Grouch's anchovy icecream sundae) we watched the number of the day be introduced: the number 20. This particular day they had these little dancing masked-figures slowly wiggle across the screen, each one wearing and saying a number. Jon and I looked at each other. Were they going to go ALL the way to 20? This would take a while.
"ONE!" wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle
"TWO!" wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle
"THREE!" "TREE!" yelled Abi. I laughed! She copied them!
"FOUR!" "FOE!" this time Abi started wiggling with them. And she repeated most of the numbers after them! The teens were the funnest.
"SIXTEEN!" "SIS-TEE!" wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle (Abi twirls and wiggles in circles)
At this point I started to tear up. She was learning! As a woman with a teacher's heart, this was just a miracle to watch. My own child learning to count! I was so proud! But this would be nothing compared to what would happen next.
Elmo's World came on near the end of Sesame Street and Abi was pretty much entertained, so I sat in my "praying chair" to pray. I started praying quietly to myself and Abi looked over at me and immediately toddled over with her hands clasped and asked me, "May-men?" which is Abi's word for "Amen." She was asking me if I was praying. I said, "Yes, mommy is praying." She reached her arms up at me and said, "Up? Up?" So I lifted her up on my lap and she turned away from the TV, folded her hands and bowed her head. I continued praying - I just happened to be praying for Abi. She sat quietly until I finished and then she repeated my Amen, "May-men" and slid off my lap to continue to watch Elmo. Then I started to pray for Jon. As I began to pray for him quietly, Abi once again toddled her way over and asked me again, "May-men?"
"Yes, mommy is praying again."
"Up? Mama, up?"
So I lifted her up and she once again folded her hands and bowed her head. But this time as I started to pray quietly, she started to speak softly along with me, her hands folded. And though I never told her I was praying for her daddy, I could tell she was nonetheless. Her prayer sounded something like this:
"bah-bee-zho-nay-lee Daddy mah-tay-oh bah-bah see-mamoh Daddy tay-wah."
My tears were streaming down my cheeks as she prayed in my arms. She didn't notice when Elmo started waving bye-bye from the TV. When I finished and I said, "Amen," she repeated "May-men," and slid off my lap. I cried as I realized the most important lessons she could ever learn in life she was learning right along with her ABC's and 123's.