Sesame Street And Other Nostalgic Pleasures That Will Permanently Damage Your Child

Something is very wrong with this picture.

I’m a nostalgic sort of person. It is a fact that a few years ago I spent over $100 on old Sassy magazines on eBay, possibly while intoxicated. I also own an original LBJ/Hubert Humphrey campaign pin, a collection of figurines from the 1970s depicting Monchhichi playing various sports, a signed copy of Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, and season one of Melrose Place on DVD (and do not even ask me which version of Melrose Place–FOR PURISTS, THERE IS ONLY ONE. BILLY AND ALLISON 4EVA, BITCHES!!!)

Anyway, now that I’m just a few centimeters of dilation and one bruised vagina away from having my first baby, my nostalgia for my own early childhood has kicked in, full-force. My husband and I have debates like, How much would making our kid watch DVDs of Sesame Street from the 80s and banning the new version mess him up? I mean, apart from his thinking Mr. Hooper is still alive? Because Sesame Street now is some PC nonsense. For starters, the animators no longer seem to be dropping acid on a regular basis (sad!). Bert and Ernie almost never appear together anymore, much less in their adorable twin beds, or going on their little gaycations to Egypt,  because apparently the rumors got too hot for the PBS executives. Big Bird no longer complains of freaky hallucinations (now everyone can see Snuffy), somebody’s been slipping Oscar anti-depressants (probably that Zolofty do-gooder Elmo) and suddenly cookies are a “sometimes” food. For a character called Cookie Monster. Sorry, PBS. I call bullshit.

Now, don’t get me wrong: we’re not about to throw our son into one of those recalled guillotine cribs or put him to sleep on his tummy while we chain-smoke Pall Malls in the other room. But you’d be surprised at how many seemingly innocuous nostalgic pastimes have turned into big no-nos.

Like those Fisher Price stacking rings. Delightful, right? Classic and timeless, just a bunch of rainbow-colored donuts hangin’ out on a pole. Nope. Apparently–steel yourselves–the blue ring will rub its non-toxic dye right into your child’s MOUTH. Like a Blue Raspberry Blow Pop but WORSE because it’s only okay for adults to walk around looking like they’ve been blowing Smurfs all day. If you look closely, you’ll notice that these “stacking rings” of death bear an uncanny resemblance to a little something called Homeland Security’s Terror Threat Chart.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Or, remember another Fisher Price classic, that little telephone with eyes and wheels? Totally cute, but IT WILL CHOKE YOUR BABY TO DEATH. Because, being a telephone (albeit a completely obsolete one–a rotary dial and no digital plan, WTF?) it has a cord. Which is basically a noose. In fact, you should ban all yo-yos, too, as a precautionary measure, and also stop using shoelaces or extension cords.

Legos, obviously, are also an accident waiting to happen–and I’m not just talking about the exquisite, brain-bending pain of stepping on one in bare feet, or the possibility that your child will use them to build a gun. Basically, if any toy these days has a hard edge, someone on Amazon is not happy about it.

Did you know that kids sometimes can unintentionally hurt themselves with everyday objects? You probably didn’t, because you, a terrible and negligent parent, gave the Play-Doh Fun Factory 5 stars (it’s not so fun for kids with celiac disease and a penchant for eating brightly-colored clay!).

Not even strollers are safe. My husband and I foolishly thought we could avoid the ridiculous models that look like some cross between Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage and a souped-up Harley. “We’ll just get one of those little umbrella strollers,” we said. “The kind that’s basically just a flap of canvas stretched between two handles. It was good enough for us, and it’ll be good enough for our kid.” Well! Turns out they only make those strollers for dolls now. In fact, the lightest weight stroller you can buy that is not considered tantamount to waterboarding your offspring is 11 pounds. That’s like half a Nicole Richie.

1980: My parents were basically trying to kill me.

Needless to say, these discoveries have put quite a damper on our parenting plan. We’ll just have to forgo the stacking rings and go with a sock full of nickels and some plastic bags. I’m sure our son will turn out fine growing up on Melrose Place instead of Sesame Street. At the very least he’ll learn how to dramatically rip off the wig he’s been wearing ever since he faked his own death. And that’s a skill you can’t put a (Fisher) price on.

About Una LaMarche

Una LaMarche blogs at The Sassy Curmudgeon, and writes for The New York Observer, The Huffington Post, and NickMom. She dominates at mini golf, especially after a few drinks, and it is a fact that Tim Gunn once complimented her on her sandals. You can find her hawking blog posts and fetishizing candy on Twitter, and if you really want to feed her ego (which took a major hit thanks to an adolescent unibrow and a penchant for Troll doll earrings), you can become her fan on Facebook.


  1. Kristi says:

    You can still get those strollers at Target. At least in Iowa.

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  2. Kristi says:

    Dammit. Will you please delete those? I really don’t want my full name on any websites.

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  3. gretta says:

    LOVE it. hilarious.

  4. Mamacita says:

    Those first seasons of Sesame Street – you know, the awesome, interesting, educational ones – are rated PG now, because apparently some people have kids who fear cookies, imaginary friends, grouchy people, funky vampires, and deep voices.

    To which I say: “Those poor underprivileged tofu-eating children!” Also? How boring and without-a-life can their parents possibly be?

    Bring back Buffy St. Marie, bathing her naked boy child in a creek. Those were some of my favorite episodes. Plus, her singing was so beautiful.

    Original Sesame Street talked to our kids. Now, it talks down to them, as if they were all idiots.

    Do I need to mention my intense hatred of all things dumbed-down and PC?

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    • Una LaMarche says:

      Amen, sister! I mean, I totally get not wanting to let Gordon pick up some random little girl off the street and bring her home with him for dinner (which really happened on the old, innocent Sesame Street), but kids can handle a little mild nudity.

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    • Jade says:

      Hey! Don’t lump “tofu-eaters” into the category of these overly PC people. Just because someone doesn’t eat meat doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s a sham for Cookie Monster to be eating anything other than cookies! :)

  5. Julie says:

    I still haven’t forgiven my children for thinking Charlie Brown is a boring dumbass, but they love Pee Wee’s Playhouse enough to redeem themselves a little.

    Definitely go with the plan to show only pre-suck Sesame Street. If your kid(s) end up weird, that just means you’re doing it right.

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  6. abigailroad says:

    @Mamacita I’m sure that many parents these days would have a hemmorage if they showed Buffy bathing her son in a creek, or breastfeeding out in the open..but wouldn’t it be nice if it was okay? :)

  7. amy says:

    I heart you so much for buying those Sassy mags. Now how about letting me borrow them?? :)

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  8. We miss cookies! And a truly grouchy oscar… he’s way too nice and under shown now.

    Now, if we could get the Electric Company back in it’s old school classic ways, that would rock!!!

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  9. Angela says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I wrote a post a little while ago about the down fall of Children’s Programming and the fact that cookies are now a “sometimes snack” makes me irate.

    Here’s a fun fact, back in the day when Cookie Monster was lovin’ him up any and all kinds of cookies with wild cookie lovin’ abandon, kids were typically of average, healthy weight.

    Now? Cookie Monster is eating celery (gag) and there are chubby little kids everywhere!! You do the math.

    To combat this bullshit laden world of kids TV, my children are forced to watch old school Sesame Street Christmas Special DVDs every year. Bob comes home to an apartment full of kids, who are obviously not his own, and this isn’t shocking for anyone. They openly use the word ‘Christmas’ (gasp) but also pay hommage to Mr. Hooper’s Jewish heritage.

    Blues Clues wouldn’t even use the words Valentine’s Day on their ‘Friendship’ show even though that’s what it was clearly about. Everything is a “holiday” special. I’m all for inclusion but being forcibly PC does not make racism and discrimation disappear.

    Just as much as Cookie Monster only eating cookies sometimes is going to make Jr’s parents stop feeding him McDonald’s and throw an apple his way.

    Whew, I got all fired up there.

    Sorry. Um, my point? Show your baby original Sesame Street and a ball and let the good times roll!

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  10. Judy N. says:

    So funny! What a way you have! Sadly, you’re right about Sesame Street. It used to be a little edgy, ahead of its time. It’s a shame that they, too, have given in to an overly-PC world. Show your child the old-school version!

    BTW, you’re rockin’ the Holly Hobbie bonnet in that picture!

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  11. Summer says:

    Those umbrella strollers have known to be not so great for a couple decades. They don’t provide back support. Though I totally understand wanting one less piece of giant baby equipment to lug upstairs!

  12. HeatherS says:

    I’m appalled. And sad. I haven’t watched the new pc Sesame Street. I was born in 1973 (I KNOW!) and I grew UP on that show. There were only, like 2 channels that came in on our tv and THAT WAS MY SHOW. I kind of vaguely remembering Cookie Monster adding more variety to his diet when my kids were little but that was a very blurry, exhausting time for me so I used the time to get things done around the house. The liberal/rainbow-loving/dropping-acid Sesame of the old days made me who I am today! Todays kids are missing out on a lot!
    P.S. The umbrella stroller really lacks back support for THE PARENTS, too, so you will be glad it’s not your main mode of pushing a baby around the city all day. The handles (even the adjustable ones) are usually on the short side so you’d be breaking your back pushing the baby around in one of those all the time.

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  13. HeatherS says:

    P.P.S. I’ve been meaning to tell you this forever, but one day my mother decided it was time FOR HER to clean out my bedroom and she threw away my entire stack of Sassy magazines while I was at school. Probably 2 or 3 years worth of subscription. I was devastated. And it was so uncool. I think my rant to her included words like “personal property,” and “lawsuit.”

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  14. IzzyMom says:

    I collect (see also: hoard) all kinds of weird old stuff from way back when, too. Also? LOVED ME SOME SASSY!

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  15. Katie says:

    You can still get the umbrella strollers, theyre mostly marketed in the summer months though. Theyre meant for older babies, once they can hold up their own head.


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