Thursday, December 1, 2011

To Catch a Monster

Monsters aren't easy to catch. Just ask Winnie the Pooh. Or my son. They'll tell you.

Heffalumps and Woozles lurk all around us, just waiting to steal any honey pots left unattended in the night. And so, you need to dig a hole, create a trap, prepare to catch one.

It's amazing how children have an innate sense that the world is composed of both good and evil, this almost intrinsic knowing that there are evil monsters among us, even if they are invisible, indescribable phantoms of the creative mind.

Before my oldest, Wyatt, could even talk, I knew I didn't want nights of him waking in tears over a monster under his bed or in his closet. So, I avoided anything with monsters--movies, books, music, toys. I even avoided using the word monster.

But somehow in the fifteen books a week from the library over the past five years and a few G rated movies meant to show the silliness of being afraid of the unknown, he was introduced to the concept anyway. When he finally heard the term "monster," he latched onto it, at last a word to put with the fully formed ideas already inside his head.

Perhaps it was one of a thousand books depicting knights, swords, and dragons. Perhaps it was his love of all things Pooh Bear and The Great Adventure movie. Or maybe it was How to Catch a Heffalump where the gang is afraid of the unknown adorable Lumpy character only to learn how silly their fear was.

But that's not how Wyatt perceived it. No, he'd never seen a monster in real life. No, Pooh Bear and Piglet hadn't seen one either. But logic was pointless. Wyatt was sure they existed. And so, he needed to set a trap.

For months, my counter tops have been filled with page after page of schematics for monster traps, intricate line drawings with our house, my in laws' house, and some elaborate contraption-of-the-day made of hay string, boards, nails, and sometimes tar (which he said I could just "get from Wal-mart).

Around the farm, every remnant of rope, crochet yarn, dental floss, or hay string were conscripted for monster trap duty...tricycles, trowels, Tonka trucks all tied together in a messy conglomeration.

Today was his best yet. Serious business. Brow-sweating labor of rolling large boulders of red clay up the newest dirt pile, stacking them on top of a long piece of string left over from pouring the garage's foundation a few months back.
And then there was the sign that he came bouncing in the house to ask for help with. Could I help him spell the words? Could I nail it on? Unable to hammer the stake into the ground, himself, he'd simply piled small dirt boulders around its base. Two staples later, he was in business--one gen-u-ine monster trap.
I'm not sure who the sign is for, maybe me? Supposedly, the monster will pull the string, and the clay boulders will fall on top of him. (Monsters are incredibly stupid, you know...obviously illiterate, too.)

When he wakes tomorrow, I know the first thing he'll do is run down the stairs and out the side door to see if something tripped the trap or (better still) is lying there tied up in the string.

With a little pinch of motherly magic, who knows what his imagination might find.

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