Thursday, May 29, 2008

No Such Thing As Monsters

My DD is going on 4 years old. For the first time in her little life, she's dealing with fears and nightmares. Her daycare had been listening to a childrens book on CD. It's about a little boy who is preparing to go to school for the first time and he starts having fantasies about what his teacher will be like. He makes her out to be a monster in his mind and envisions her eating students and all sorts of horrible things. In the end of course, she turns out to be a nice teacher and his fears were unfounded. I suppose I can see where they were going with the lesson in this story, especially since the kids are about to change classrooms in the coming weeks and some of their friends are graduating and going to Kindergarten. But when I look at the drawings in the accompanying's not really appropriate for children so young. My DD has been talking about the book for a couple weeks now and it took me some time to realize she was really frightened. I talked to her teacher and asked her to please not expose my DD to that story again. But the damage is done.
Last night, DD would not fall asleep. She kept calling me back upstairs to her room. She was scared and crying and kept talking about "Mrs. Green", the teacher in the book. I reassured her and we talked about the fact that it's a story. A pretend story. Just the way she didn't expect to see her favorite characters Frog & Toad, Corduroy the bear, Horton or Clifford the Big Red Dog in our house, she also should not expect to see Mrs. Green, the monster teacher. After all, there are no such things as Monsters.
Oh how I wrestled with saying those words.
But there ARE monsters, DD. Horrible, ferocious monsters who are disguised as everyday normal people. Oh how I wish, I WISH, the monsters looked like Mrs. Green with her scaly emerald skin, red eyes and firey breath. How I wish they were so obvious and easy to avoid. How I wish I would never have to warn you of the real life monsters who walk among us everyday. The people who will thieve your innocence, rob you of trust, pilfer your dignity and filch your sense of self. Who will tear out your very heart and soul, leaving you a shell of what you should have been. A shell scarred by the claws of that monster who will seduce you into laying your life down for his repulsive desires. To leave you feeling like YOU are the monster. I am sorry to lie to you, DD, because there are indeed monsters. But I am not ready to tell you about them yet and so, for now, you need not know of such things and I will make you feel safe for as long as I possibly can. May it always be as easy as reminding you "it's just a made-up story" and encouraging you talk about things that make you happy like ice cream cones, pink toenails, swinging at the playground and ballerina dresses.
I asked her "What makes you happy?" and she said "You do, Mommy."
May it always be that way. And may monsters be a thing of make-believe for the rest of your life, my princess.


Maia said...

Oh Perfect, I started crying when I read this post. You have such a way with words! And you are such a good Mom. Thanks for writing.

Enola said...

Monster spray worked in our house - we took a water bottle and sprayed it everywhere and called it repellant. I wasn't sure whether it was a good route to go (as opposed to the "there is no such thing as monsters"), but it worked.