Why Abby Cadabby Reminds Me of My Daughter

It’s only been three seasons since the endlessly enthusiastic fairy-in-training Abby Cadabby joined the cast of television’s most beloved preschool program. But she’s already become a Sesame Street superstar. And she, above all the more established Muppets, has special meaning for me. Every time Abby shows up, waving her jiggly Koosh-ball magic wand, saying to everybody, “Want to see my new trick?,” she reminds me of my daughter.

There isn’t a day that goes by in my home that doesn’t see my daughter, Bryn, begging the rest of the family to watch her newest trick. It could be a dance she has choreographed, a song she’s practiced, a play she’s scripted, or even—in a more direct comparison—a sleight-of-hand trick from her cardboard chest of magician paraphernalia. And just as it is in Abby’s case, Bryn’s tricks don’t always turn out exactly as planned. Lyrics may be forgotten (or made up on the spot); a secretly stashed coin may fall from its hiding place; a ballet-like leg-lift may accidentally kick her little brother in the jaw. But none of this deters her.

A magic spell from Abby Cadabby brings as much unintentional danger as it does amazement—she may mistakenly turn Elmo green or transform an innocent elephant into a gourd—but that never dampens her eagerness to show off her abilities. Abby will try everything, because Abby believes she can do anything. And, boy, do I sympathize with the adult residents of Sesame Street who admire that trait, even while it makes them wince a little.

Bryn is almost 8 years old now, a few years beyond being a regular Sesame viewer. But her 3-year-old brother is in the prime demographic. He has a fondness for Abby, and I wonder if he sees a little of his big sister in her. One thing’s for sure: He can learn something from watching either of them. When Abby intends to make a doll appear for Elmo to play with, but causes a pumpkin to materialize out of thin air instead, is that any less magical? That’s exactly how I feel about my daughter.

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