the little one plays a never-ending game of dot-to-dot all day long. he changes socks, he drops them. he yanks off his shorts, he leaves them puddled on the rug. you could trace his every move, his every change of clothes and plaything, walking room to room, plucking from the floor, where he has deposited all the evidence.
we are trying to change that. we are in week three of pick-up therapy.
thus, when i wandered in his room the other night, en route to his least desired destination–bed–i was a.) not so surprised to see the detritus of a busy day strewn around the rug, and b.) insistent that it return to whence it came, the basement.
he truly is a good little boy, but this night my pointing down the stairs was met with unblinking resistance.
“it’s for fighting monsters,” he informed. “i’m wearing it to bed.”
it seems that while i was wiping out the sink one last time for the evening, tucking ice cream spoons away, he was carefully, premeditatedly, scouring the basement for the very tools i had thought were mere droppings from the day.
he had climbed up stairs with hockey stick and batting helmet, swimming goggles, and, of course, his trusty saber. the one that glows and makes a throaty roar. more like a gargle, really, but don’t tell that to a 5-year-old monster warrior.
and so, after brushing all those teeny-tiny baby teeth, not a one of which is even wiggly, he pulled off the ordinary clothes of ordinary mortal, and, like superman inside the phone booth, became the monster fighter boy.
the goggles went on first. “monsters poke your eyes out,” he once again informed, matter-of-factly, as if he’d been reading monster manuals and i had not.
step two, according to those manuals, i suppose, the batting helmet. backwards, apparently. giving the monster warrior a darth vader sort of style. perhaps he’d been preening before the mirror, trying it front and back. or perhaps these things just happen. perhaps little boys just know. what it takes to trounce a scary thing in bed.
the light saber, curiously, wisely, was tucked on the elastic waist of the undies he’d decided gave him maximum monster-battling maneuverability.
and then, the hockey stick. this, oddly (as if all the rest wasn’t odd enough), he threaded through the undies, on a fierce diagonal, wholly crossing his little body. he slid one end, the end that doesn’t slap the puck, down behind the waist band on the left, poked it out the leg hole on his right. hmm.
somehow, carefully, i assure you–boys, again, know instinctively to be careful of these parts–he climbed abed.
and there he lay, armed and very ready for whatever purple hairy, green-fanged thing dared to come across his threshold.
so fierce he was, lying there, eyes like frog, head in turtle shell, sticks at the criss-crossed ready, any monster who came his way would simply have to be a fool.
this monster gear has been a part of bedtime for the whole last week. every night there is the slightest tweak in the armament. the helmet and the sticks, though: indispensable.
it didn’t take me long to connect the dots, to draw the line, between monster fighting nights and end of kindergarten days.
aha, i said, as i played assistant to the ever-delicate ascent to bed, a climb that could, with just a single sorry twist, impair his future. if you catch my drift.
of course i said in passing what i always say of monsters: they aren’t real, sweetheart. they are pretend. monsters live in books, and on the tv screen.
i said it sort of like a band-aid. sort of in the way a doctor used to say, take an aspirin, call me in the morning.
i did not press the point because surely there is something he thinks he needs to fight. and i’ll always honor that. honor the existence of whatever unnamed hairy monster lurks inside his head.
if only you and i could so simply fight our demons. if only sliding on a hard-shelled helmet, squeezing on the safety goggles could shield us from our fears.
i am thinking that the end of school is feeling a bit like walking off a cliff, or into a big dark cave. it is a darkness, an unknown, that we step into every day. but we aren’t 5. so we hide our safety goggles. keep the helmet under our hat.
when you’re 5, though, you hide little. you strut your safety gear. it’s just the monster outlines that remain a little fuzzy.
in fact, my monster fighter is not saying much about these monsters. he is keeping the enemy rather under wraps, close to the vest. a good monster warrior is like that. he can’t disclose too much about the enemy.
all we know is that the enemy is there. and the monster warrior is armed and ready. and being very brave. he’ll not slip blindly into the night. he is safe, i know and he knows, behind his sword and goggles.
whatever is the danger. whatever is the bother, he quite foxily figured out a plot to keep the upper hand.
i’ll not take that away. i will assist in any way the growing monster fighter who is figuring out a way to take on the evils of the world.
but i will, for now, always tiptoe back to make sure the little goggles are not squeezing his little sleeping eyeballs.
once again, i stand back and marvel at the growing human mind. little people’s ways are uncanny. have you a tale to tell of a little person who took on the shadows, armed in no uncertain terms? how did you learn to fend for yourself from what might be lurking ’round a corner? or are you, like me, still thick in the middle of the learning. and eager to try on the nearest batting helmet?
Ooh, I love his posture. He’s so ready to battle all the monsters of his imagination. I wonder, though, what young Tedd’s monsters are. Maybe they’re disparaging remarks from school buddies. Maybe they’re visions of scary shows on channel 54 becoming reality.Or maybe they’re just the fear, yet also the yearning and excitement, of growing up. Because without monsters, life just wouldn’t be as vibrant as a blue plastic lightsaber, would it?
Barb,That is the dearest story and the dearest photo I can remember ever seeing. You are right that small children make the imaginative stories real in their minds. When my 27-year-old daughter was 4 or 5 and we were at a ladies’ shoe department with salesmen who brought selections and placed them on feet, she looked at the kneeling salesman with her totally believing mind and asked, “Got any glass slippers?”She was hoping for an easy way to become Cinderella.
Oh, my. Beyond precious. Keep us posted about the armoured guard. As for your battle with the messy demon, I’ll bet you the “picking up after your stuff” is one you will lose, or surrender. And about a different day last week, I haven’t thought about Mr. Crouch in decades. He, along with Mr. Bruhn and Mike Knight, are the only 3 teachers I remember provoking me to actually think.
To an extraordinary degree, his is the picture of an Achean hero, one of the legions from the Iliad, ready to do battle. The monsters of little boys are no less real than warriors of epic poems, which poems have cast a long enduring shadow upon our culture! It is our loss to think they are fictive. And of warriors far best was Telamonian Aias, “lion-hearted…a godlike man…bulwark of the Achaeans” and so it is meet and proper to cite this passage from Homer’s Iliad 7.215:“So they spake, and Aias arrayed him in gleaming bronze. But when he had clothed about his flesh all his armour, then sped he in such wise as huge Ares goeth forth when he enters into battle amid warriors whom the son of Cronos hath brought together to contend in the fury of soul-devouring strife. Even in such wise sprang forth huge Aias, the bulwark of the Achaeans, with a smile on his grim face; and he went with long strides of his feet beneath him, brandishing his far-shadowing spear. Then were the Argives glad as they looked upon him, but upon the Trojans crept dread trembling on the limbs of every man, and Hector’s own heart beat fast within his breast. Howbeit in no wise could he any more flee or shrink back into the throng of the host, seeing he had made challenge to fight. So Aias drew near, bearing his shield that was like a city wall, a shield of bronze with sevenfold bull’s-hide, the which Tychius had wrought with toil, he that was far best of workers in hide, having his home in Hyle, who had made him his flashing shield of seven hides of sturdy bulls, and thereover had wrought an eighth layer of bronze. This Telamonian Aias bare before his breast, and he came and stood close by Hector, and spake threatening: ‘Hector, now verily shalt thou know of a surety, man to man, what manner of chieftains there be likewise among the Danaans, even after Achilles, breaker of the ranks of men, the lion-hearted. Howbeit he abideth amid his beaked seafaring ships in utter wrath against Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, shepherd of the host; yet are we such as to face thee, yea, full many of us. But begin thou war and battle.’”
Oh…he is so cute!! Great pic! I know many little kids that are chaseing monsters all the time( I was one of them)! I think it is cute and a part of everyones life(especialy boys)! I know a little boy that is always looking for indians!!! (his own kind of monsters…he is 4 years old) Maybe he has seen to many old western films or maybe he is useing his indians to stay out of trouble(you see..when he is in trouble for doing something wrong he ALWAYS says “but mom…It was the Indians who did it”) what ever the case may be he is VERY serous about it and will NOT be told that they don’t exist!! Keep telling us about your little monster fighter..very cute!
outstanding. what a clever little being admitting to his fears by arming himself so. i think ted should offer up a line of sleeping fear gear for kids of all ages. of course, i would request a little padding and a summer and winter weight line…but we can get into the details later. i can just see it now, people all over, in beds or every size, tucking beneath the covers in cushy helmets or fearless eye shades. let me know where to place my order; it may require a whole other blog.
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