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.”
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?”
“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?”
“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.
Sorry, got to go. More later.