Category Archives: Parenting

No Monsters in the House

monsters!

Oldest, 3.

My oldest daughter had never even heard of monsters before.  She never had trouble going to sleep, either.  Then, at the end of a family gathering, one of her uncles “helped” us with bedtime by saying, “You better get in bed before the monsters come out.” 

Thanks, uncle. 

For the rest of that week, she asked us to stay after tucking her in because she was afraid monsters would come in her room.  We tried for several nights to explain away this new-found fear.  Then, we realized that no matter how much we explained that there are no such thing as monsters, one fact remained.   She was scared of something – and her something was real.

So, I agreed with her something by telling her about the rule: No monsters in the house.

She looked at me funny. 

I said, “It’s true.  No monsters are allowed in this house.  They have to stay outside, on the sidewalk.

She walked towards the window, staying just far enough back so that she could see – but not close enough so that she could be seen. 

“I don’t see any monsters on the sidewalk,” she said.

“They probably went home,” I said.

“What if they’re trying to come into my bedroom?”

“They can’t.”

Why?

“No-monsters-in-the-house.”

“How do they know to stay outside?” she said.

“Mom and I told ‘em to.”

“What if they don’t listen?”

“Do you ever go outside at night?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because you and Mom told me.”

“Right – and here’s what we told the monsters: if they stay on the sidewalk, we’ll keep you in the house.”

“Do they get cold out there?”

“No – they’ve got lots of fur.”

“Do they get hot in the summer?”

“No – they shed in the summer.”

“Where do they shed?”

“In the grass.”

“What do you do if you find it?”

“Oh, you throw it away – or make a monster sweater.”

“What if they watch me sleep?”

“If we close the curtains, they can’t.  Eventually monsters get tired, too.”

I closed the curtains and tucked her in. 

A tiny sliver of space was allowing some light to come through.  She folded back the covers, trotted over to the window, closed the gap by overlapping the edges, and charged back across the room.  I helped her climb back into bed.  And there we sat, in the dark, looking at the curtains; waiting for the monsters to go to sleep.

***

“Hey, dad.”

Sorry, got to go.  More later.


Flower Salad

The new flower bed has survived despite the la...

Oldest, 7.  Youngest two, 4.

I was repairing a storm door on our deck when my youngest daughter stepped into the doorway, holding a big, plastic bowl from the cupboard.

“Can we make Flower Salad?” she wondered.

“Yeah, can we make flower salad?” her brother wondered, too.

The summer before, they had fun making “salad” out of dandelions, grass, and whatever else their little fingers could clutch out of the yard.  Frankly, I was pleased that they wanted to play outside instead of watching another round of TV.

“Sounds good to me,” I said.

They ran off and I returned to the broken door.  I heard them laughing in the side yard.  They passed by me, through the doorway, into the kitchen.

“Need salad spoons.”  They ran back out.

I heard them laughing in the side yard.  My son passed by me, through the doorway, into the kitchen.

“Need napkins.”  He ran back out.

I heard them laughing in the side yard.  It was a warm, early spring day and it was nice to hear them having so much fun.  They called up to me from the yard.

“Can we put mulch in the bowl?”

“Yeah, can we put mulch in the bowl?”

“Sounds like croutons to me,” I said.

I finished the door a short time later and walked over to where they were mixing it all up.  I came down the steps, rubbing my stomach.

“I’m ready for some salad,” I said.

My daughter was busy, stirring her ingredients.  “Tonight we’re having special flower salad.”

“Yeah, special flower salad,” said her echo.  “Want some?” he asked.

She presented the bowl.  Their salad was filled with grass and bits of mulch – and some cherry tomato’s that I didn’t see them take from the kitchen.  Mostly, though, it was overflowing with beautiful red and pink flower petals.   I got an uneasy feeling.  We hadn’t planted any flowers yet that spring.

“Where did you get red and pink flowers?”

“Come on!”

They charged across the lawn to our neighbors yard.  I followed them to the far side of our neighbor’s house and we stopped at the edge of a large garden bed.  Dozens and dozens of de-flowered stems stood tall in the garden, all of them head-less.

As I hurried them back to our yard, our neighbors came home, pulling into their driveway.  They waved.  I returned a quick, nonchalant wave – careful not to make eye contact.  I’ll admit it; I’m a coward.  I gathered the two chefs quickly and said, “Hey guys, let’s take your salad inside and watch TV.”

About a month later, I bumped into our neighbor at one of the big-box stores.  He told me that his wife was driving him crazy, constantly peering out the window to catch those #$^&^#  flower-eating rabbits.

“Yeah, they’ve been in our yard, too,” I said.

***

“Hey, dad.”

Sorry, gotta go – more later.


Never Any Soap in This House

Oldest, 21.  Youngest two, 18.

English: A white bar of soap in a light blue p...

(With apologies to Dr. Suess.)

One of our children

It matters not who

Stepped into our room with

“Bad news for you”

Yes, we both asked

With wondering eyes

What could it be

The source of these sighs

This child, quite tortured

Delivered the news

That not a room in the house

Had bubblety-poo!

Did you look in our tub

Did you check in the hall

Have you looked in the cupboard

Yes; the answer to all

Then, we were told

Of a long-standing grouse

There’s NEVER, it seems

Any soap in this house

We hung our heads low

With shock and with shame

Had we really been guilty

Such a piercing claim

The neighbors, should they hear

Could cause us much nervousness

Skimping on bubbles?

They’ll contact Child Services

So, that night, in bed

With my inconsolable wife

I closed my red eyes

And dreamed of less strife

Of a world created

By future generations

With helpful inventions

And wondrous machinations

A box, perhaps

Sitting on wheels

Rolling individuals

Towards buildings with deals

All of it organized

With things to help cope

Shelves filled with food and

In aisles, bricks of soap

Never, in this future

Would teens ever go dirty

They’d hop in their box

And they’d come home with thirty

But, morning arrived

I slunk down the stairs

To face filthy children

My dirt-caked heirs

I told them of the dream

An unrealistic hope

To someday hear the phrase

Mom, I bought us more soap

 ***

“Hey, dad?”

 Sorry – got to go.  More later.


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