You never know how a child is going to react to a costumed character. It is usually pretty cut and dry - either they absolutely LOVE it or they HATE it. The last experience I had with Benjamin was with a crazy eyed Easter bunny. Wally, Ben and I waited in line for what seemed like hours to get a photo with Easter Benny and Easter Bunny. I had my suspicions but we waited anyway. As we got closer to the beginning of the line, I saw other children run away/scream/ kick/cry in horror over this over sized hopping, egg distributing machine but I thought Ben loved Santa and he is a pretty brave soul (when it comes to strangers) so we should get the cherished photo in without a scene. Boy was I wrong! Wally stood back - I tried to put him on the Bunny's lap but he clung to me for dear life with a look on his face that said, "what are you crazy lady?!?!" The sixteen year old photographer said, "I got a shot do you want to see it he looks cute." I controlled myself and remembered I was a mother and simply said, "I do not want a photo with my son looking like someone is about to murder him but thank you anyway."
Flash forward four months later and I have signed my son up for a lunch with the Sesame Street characters (no I am not trying to torture my son). I was a bit nervous and thought this could be the worst decision I have made this year -- I might have spent 50 bucks for no good reason. As you can already tell from the photos, I would have spent a million dollars and more to capture one of the best afternoons I have ever had in my life. To say Benjamin was excited is an understatement, I thought at one point he might explode with excitement. From the moment we walked in the door and he saw Big Bird, he was in love. He went around to each and every Sesame Street character to have his picture taken with them and really just to spend some time with them. He laughed with them. He slapped their hands/wings five. He gave a few of them a kiss. And even "beeped" their noses.
Since Elmo is the most popular character of this generation, you could actually got a professional (once again by a sixteen year old so I use the term "professional" loosely) photo taken with him and take a few of your own. I let Benjamin walk up to Elmo and he hugged him and turned around and ran back to me with the BIGGEST smile on his face. He then went right back to his beloved character to poise for a few pictures and share more hugs. However, the best moment came after Ben woofed down a cupcake and was on a serious sugar high that I thought he might spontaneously combust. Ernie and Big Bird had come out to the center of the dance floor and were getting down. Ben was sitting in his highchair wanting to get out and hit the dance floor and perform his chicken dance. I got him out and he ran to Ernie then noticed Big Bird and started yelling to me and pointing at Big Bird and ran to him then realized Ernie was still there and he started yelling my name again and pointing out Ernie. He had no idea who he wanted to go to next so just started running around in a circle screaming with joy. I wish, wish, wish I had a video camera to capture that moment. My description doesn't do it justice but imagine being caught between your two favorite celebrities that you have ALWAYS wanted to meet that's how Ben was - beside himself. He definitely didn't take the "play it cool route" but the cool route wouldn't have brought me as much joy as it did. My mother looked on and had tears in her eyes (she probably didn't think I noticed that) and I knew she shared the same thought as I did - I will never forget this moment as long as I live.