Image Credit: NickelodeonWe all get emotional watching the Toy Story movies because we love the idea that our toys are real. But how do you handle it when a child finds out they aren’t? Here’s why I’m asking: My two-year-old niece Coco is obsessed with Dora the Explorer. So much that it’s hard for anyone in my family now to say Dora’s name because we’re so used to having to spell it out in front of her. She loves the videos, and on Christmas night, she was watching one in which Diego, Dora’s cousin, got trapped dangling off the side of a mountain while rescuing a baby parrot. Dora was about to save Diego, when we had to turn it off so Coco could take her bath. That didn’t go over well, even though Coco was told her new Splash Around Dora doll could come in the tub with her. Cut to the end of the bath, and all the water having drained. My sister asked Coco if she was coming out, and Coco just sat there and said, “No, stuck in tub. Dora come save me.”
It was the cutest thing I’d ever seen, until, of course, Dora didn’t come. My sister tried to pretend the Splash Around Dora (new codename: SAD) was there to rescue her, but even a 2-year-old could figure out there was no way the small doll was lifting her out of there. “No,” Coco said. We waited some more. Coco’s since recovered — she’s watched Dora videos, read her Dora books, worn her Dora jammies, etc. — but I haven’t.
I live in fear of Dora breaking her heart again, of me not knowing how to cover for no-show Dora and somehow hardening Coco before she’s even had a chance to watch her first Pixar movie (which I’m 99.9 percent sure will be the happiest day of my life). So, here’s what I propose: If you have stories about your kids, nieces, nephews, or self as a child that will help remind me we all recover from this disappointment, share them. In my mind, I know it’s true, but my heart still sinks when I think about Dora phoning the play kitchen I got Coco for Christmas to say she’s not coming to Saturday brunch because she has to rescue Diego and Baby Jaguar from quicksand with the help of two ferrets.*