There was a time, not so long ago, when a certain helium-voiced monster dominated every waking minute of our lives. I’d close my eyes and remember that the Noodle family are actually accomplished actors, not just annoying buffoons who can’t follow the instructions of 4 year-olds. And don’t get me started on that bitch Bubbles Martin. WORST. CARTOONS. EVER.

But suddenly, and without warning, the little red beast was dumped. Discarded. Pancaked. No “we’re just taking a break,” or “we can still be friends.” Elmo was canned with the swiftness and finality of Admiral Ozzel.

Cheeky’s got a new hoochie. She’s got big brown eyes, a talking backpack, and some freakish Joan Embery animal-communication skills. And she brooks no competition for our daughter’s attention.

At first I was relieved. I’d had quite enough of “ELMO HAS MAIL! ELMO HAS MAIL!” and “Jingle Bells” may be permanently ruined for me. And when Cheeky proudly proclaimed that she was “Dos!” on her second birthday we thought Dora was turning our child into a bilingual genius.

But it happened so fast, and so fiercely, that my wife and I had a surprising reaction.

We felt bad for Elmo.

I mean, the guy was her world for a year, and now he was some reject she’d change her e-mail to avoid. We’d see him stuffed face-first in the corner of her crib or find a sheet of Elmo stickers in a drawer and reminisce. “Remember when she loved Elmo?” We’d even try to put him on every once in a while, just to make him feel better, but she’d have none of it.

Elmo sucks. Dora rules!

Now the floodgates have opened, and we’ve got Dora Legos, Dora Playdough, Dora dolls, and (of course) Dora stickers. We all know the way to the Tall Mountain and the Yellow Valley, and sing the map songs together. But I can’t help but think, “How long will this last?”

We all know it’s just a matter of time when Dora & Boots join Blue and Elmo on the side of the road, under a sign that says “Welcome to Dumpsville: Population YOU”