Monday, February 10, 2014

Monsters Pre-K

“What kind of monsters?  Like, Cookie Monsters?” I asked my four-year-old son Evan as he peered over the edge of his Toy Story comforter, which was, at the moment, not providing much comfort. 

He was clearly scared, but I couldn’t imagine that Evan knew enough to conjure up anything actually scary in his imagination.  The only monsters he’d seen on TV were the fuzzy ones from Sesame Street, where even Elmo qualifies as a monster.   

“No, not Cookie Monsters.  Eat-people monsters,” Evan replied, explaining why he’d spent the previous minute wailing for parental protection.

“Oh,” I said, impressed.  They don’t have eat-people monsters on Sesame Street, which is probably for the best.

“Today’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the letter AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!” Ernie would scream as the eat-people monster devoured him.  Probably a little too educational.  

“I know monsters aren’t real, but I’m still scared they’re going to get me.  What can I do?” Evan asked.

It was the kind of parenting moment you look forward to when you’re not even a parent yet, when you’re just a dude on a couch playing Call of Duty, picturing this distant future when you’d get the opportunity to impart your wisdom to help a young child navigate a confusing and sometimes scary world.   

“Did you try pulling your blanket over your head?” I offered.

“How does that help?” Evan asked.

“Monsters can’t see you when you’re under your blankets,” I said.

“I thought monsters weren’t real!” he shrieked.

Yes, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as imparting your wisdom to your child, further terrifying him.  That went exactly as I’d always pictured it.

“No no no, they’re not real.  But if you’re still scared of them even though they’re not real, it might make you feel better to pull your covers up so high that they couldn’t see you even if they were real, which they’re not,” I said.

After considering this for a moment, Evan replied, “They could still see me.  Then they’d just lift up the covers and climb in.”

Now he was starting to scare me a little.  The first rule of monsters is that monsters aren't allowed to look under the covers.  I thought we were all in agreement on that point.

If monsters are allowed to just peek in on us with no rules, like the NSA, then I sure wasted a lot of sweat as a kid.  My parents didn’t install central air until after I left for college.  On summer nights, if I left a Pop Tart on my bedside table, by morning it would be burnt.  (Of course, I’m just making that up.  We weren’t allowed to have Pop Tarts.  Not even the unfrosted kind.  That deprivation is why I’m so messed up now.)

Still, no matter how hot it got, I’d spend the night wrapped in my cocoon of magic monster-deflecting blankets, sweating puddles through the mattress.  If Evan is right, all I was doing was making myself extra pungent and delectable, like a nice Roquefort cheese to a monster.  I’m lucky I got out of there alive.

I turned back to Evan and saw his sad eyes imploring for comforting guidance.  With the blanket trick nullified, and Evan already admitting that monsters are not real, (though still bloodthirsty), I was out of ideas.   

“What are you doing?” Evan asked as I stood in his doorway, tapping on my phone.

“Googling ‘How to make your kid feel better about monsters’,” I replied, practicing parenting by search engine.   

I scrolled past the first few hits, finding nothing.  When I looked up, Evan had pulled the covers over his head. 

“Hey, you disappeared!” I said.  A monster wouldn’t have noticed, but just under the covers, you could see a little smile poking out.
You can pull the blankets over your head so Mike Todd won’t see you at

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