On Saturday, my mother and I took the twins to see Sesame Street Live's "Elmo's Coloring Book" and what do I come home with -- two $8 each balloons of Elmo.
As a general rule, I don't mind going to these shows. Besides being a great way to supplement educational television programming, I think these programs expose children to a different type of entertainment. Personally, I have no problem letting my children watch TV, but I also want them to experience a variety of performances.
This show was actually our second viewing of Sesame Street Live. We saw a different show last year. The twins had just turned one and were just starting to watch Sesame Street.
This year, the twins knew all the characters when they came out. They cheered for Elmo when he appeared on stage. And although they didn't actually know the music, they were still dancing and bebopping on our laps. And when the characters came out into the audience, the twins were too star struck to even wave when the life-size monsters stopped by our floor seats.
Overall, I'd say it was a hugely successful outing -- a birthday present from their grandma. My one complaint is the $8 balloons.
I'm a huge fan of souvenirs -- or as my husband calls them, junk to clutter the house. Even so, I always make sure that the children have a souvenir wherever we go -- concerts, shows, festivals, vacation, you name it. Just one, or two at the most, that they get to select. I don't believe they need everything. My parents did the same for me. These trinkets became tied to my memories of the excursion -- every time I looked at them I could remember what fun I had.
I want my kids to have the same opportunity to reminisce. Now I'm not foolish enough to think that the souvenirs I buy them today will actually make it past the year end, let alone their adulthood. But eventually they will and I want to start the tradition now. Besides even if the toy or t-shirt I buy only lasts a couple of months, it's still a couple of months that the memory got to live on. Since many of the events are annual, they'll get a new souvenir next year anyway. And for those special once in a lifetime events, I plan to buy a souvenir I can put away until they are old enough to appreciate.
Now back to the balloons. Since we had been last year, I knew they were coming. Because of this knowledge, I planned to bypass the souvenir table. Grandma stopped, however, and got them each a plush -- one Elmo, one Cookie Monster -- as part of their birthday gift.
Now, normally I don't consider a balloon a souvenir. They don't last long enough. We might get one when we are at an event if they are a dollar or two. But I never dreamed I'd be paying $8 for one, let alone buying two at that price. So, you're asking, why did I?
Well, the people over at VEE Corporation (the people who put on the show) really know how to play the parents. When you arrive, there are no Elmo balloons to be seen. Then during intermission one guy parades through the entire arena with this huge -- and I mean huge -- bouquet of Elmo balloons until he reaches the stage. You can't miss these balloons, no matter where you are sitting. As soon as my kids saw it, they started pointing and I knew I was done for. So, I got out my $16 and got in line with almost every other parent in the venue. I know I'm not the only sucker, because by the end of intermission, the vendor only had a handful of balloons left.
Now VEE really has this manipulation down to a science, from the parade through the arena to the single vendor selling the balloons to the intermission timed just long enough for everyone to stand in line to get a balloon. Last year, I remained unscathed because the twins were just two little to realize the balloons were more than just a decoration, but not this year.
Now that I own these $8 balloons, I immediately tie them (double-knotted) to my children's wrists. I don't care that I'm going to have to cut them off, because I don't want to lose one and have to pay another $8. But to add insult to injury, we know have to watch the rest of the show with these balloons that they've asked us to keep under our seat during the remainder of the show despite the fact that they're tied to the children's wrists. Thank goodness, they at least came with long strings.
We made it through the rest of the show despite a few tangling incidents. On the way out, I give in and stop at the souvenir stand to buy the CD of the show so the twins have something to remember it by that will last more than a week.
The trip home with two giant Elmo heads in my rearview mirror was interesting. And yes, two days later the balloons are still inflated and living on the ceiling of my living room.
And despite my ranting, I'll be in line again next year with my $16 (I'm crossing my fingers that the price doesn't go up) to buy two more balloons. The things we do for our children . . .