Sometimes I just don't understand Sesame Street.
Don't get me wrong; I'm a first-generation Sesame Street fan. I have loved the show since I was three-years-old. I'm delighted that it's one of Bud's favorites. But why does Sesame Street, the pioneering leader in educational television for young children, feature characters who role model poor speech patterns?
There are two factors that have made the role modeling a problem for Bud: 1) Bud is an echolalic speaker, so almost all of his early speech and a great deal of his current speech is comprised of phrases he has memorized from television and videos, and 2) Since he began using spontaneous language, one of the areas that has been most problematic for him is the use of pronouns ("Look, Mama, it's a picture of me!"; "No, honey, that's not you. That's a picture of me."; "Yes, it's a picture of me!"). For both of these reasons, I've been frustrated by the confusion that Sesame Street's much-loved characters have created for Bud with their improper use of grammar.
There are really only two main culprits: Elmo, who uses the third person exclusively ("Elmo is so happy to see you!") and Cookie Monster, who uses objective pronouns in place of subjective pronouns ("Me love cookies!") But for a boy who has continually struggled with pronomial reversals (initially first-person and second person, or I/you, and currently with gender-specific pronouns, like she/he and him/her), it adds an unnecessary layer of confusion to an already complicated learning process.
My current frustration is actually not with grammar per se. Bud's favorite Sesame Street segments these days are claymation shorts that feature two caveman-type characters (Bud tells me their names are Marty and Susie, but I have a hunch he made that up), who clash when they try to do things at the same time (sit in a chair, play basketball) but ultimately achieve success when they learn to cooperate. The shorts are well made and have a lovely little message about sharing. Unfortunately, the two characters communicate with each other by grunting, shrieking, babbling and using gibberish, all while engaged in fast-paced frenetic movement. Bud is captivated by these two characters, and he often reenacts their routines. Unfortunately, when he is around other people who lack context for this type of play, his behavior seems inappropriate and problematic. Of course, it doesn't occur to Bud to give people context for it and I can't always be there to provide it.
I'm not really being critical of Sesame Street. I understand that Elmo and Cookie Monster and Marty and Susie are simply entertaining and are not at all confusing for most children. But, still, there are times when I just want to sit down and write them a letter: "Sesame Street, Mom is frustrated. Me SO frustrated!"