“Sweetie, it’s time to go to bed,” her mom called
“Don’t forget to wash up and brush your teeth.”
“I’ll be up in a minute.”
“I don’t think she’s been brushing that well,” said the monster under the bed, hereafter referred to as Monster #1.
“What are worried about?” said the monster in the closet, hereafter referred to as Monster #2.
“I’m worried about cavities and tooth decay.”
“Don’t worry. These are only her baby teeth. She’ll get a whole new set of teeth in a couple years.”
“What if she gets gum disease,” said Monster #1.
“She’s not gonna get gum disease.”said Monster #2
“Look at the way she’s brushing; side to side. Shouldn’t she be brushing up and down?, said Monster #1.
“Side to side. Up and down. Round and round. I told you, it doesn’t make any difference. She’s gonna lose those teeth by the time she’s eleven, anyway,” said Monster #2.
“She needs to develop good habits now so she’ll take care of her adult teeth when they come in.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it? Nothing. Because there’s nothing we can do. You worry too much.”
“Well, you don’t worry enough.”
“You’re always dropping her baseball glove or her basketball onto the floor.”
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Monster #2.
“It makes her decide to go outside and play,” said Monster #1
“And what’s wrong with going out to play. The fresh air and exercise are good for her.”
“She could get hurt.”
“How could she get hurt?”
“She could fall and scrape her knee. She could cut herself. She could bump her head. She could...”
“Alright, alright, alright. I get the picture. But scrapes and cuts and bumps are all part of being a kid,” said Monster #2.
“Not this kid. Not if I can help it.”
“Now you see,” said Monster #2, “Your being overly protective again. You’d rather she stay inside and play video games or read.”
“And what’s wrong with that?” asked Monster #1.
“Nothing is wrong with that. She just shouldn’t spend all her time doing it. She needs to get outside, ride her bike, play ball with other kids.”
“Oh that wretched bike. I don’t like to think of her anywhere near that two wheeled death trap,” said Monster #1.
“What’s wrong with her bike. She loves that thing. You just don’t want her to have any fun.”
“I want her to have fun, only indoors where it’s safe. Not only could she fall off that thing, but she could also get hit by a car.”
“She’s not gonna get hit by a car. She rides on the sidewalk,” said Monster #2.
“Not all the time. I’ve seen her ride in the street.”
“You’ve never seen her ride in the street.”
“Well maybe not in the street, but close to the street.”
“Again, bike injuries are a right of passage for a kid her age.”
“Why do you always do that?”
“Always act so flippant about the dangers of her being outside?”
“I’m not being flippant. I’m being realistic. Kids get banged up. It’s part of being a kid,” said Monster #2.
“And how would you know what’s normal for a kid? How many closets have you been in?”
“This one makes six. How many beds have you been under?”
“Three, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is who has her best interest at heart,” said Monster #1.
“First of all, I’ve been in six to your three. That makes me twice as smart as you when it comes to kids. And second, I have her best interest at heart. Just because I don’t want to keep her locked up inside this house doesn’t mean I don’t care. In fact, it means I care more. Even though I don’t want to see her get hurt, I still want her to go out and have fun like a normal kid. Being overly protective isn’t the only way to show you care.”
“It’s the safest.”
“The safest isn’t always the best,” said Monster #2.
“But it is always the safest,” said Monster #1.
“Why do I bother talking to you?” said Monster #2.
“Who else would you talk to?” replied Monster #1.
“The last monster I worked with had a sense of humor. And, he didn’t spend his time worrying about every little thing,” said Monster #2.
“Oh yeah, how did that turn out?”
“Well, today the kid still has all of his teeth. He also has a small scar from a bicycling accident that his friends think is really cool. He’s an A/B student. He likes to climb trees. He…”
“Climb trees?! You let him climb trees?”
“I didn’t LET him do anything. You know it doesn’t work like that.”
“Well, you didn’t try to stop him.”
“No we didn’t. It was all his idea. We just let him run with it.”
“I knew you were irresponsible. But I never thought you’d condone tree climbing. I hope you won’t encourage her if she decides to climb any trees.”
“I don’t know. She’s been eyeing that oak tree in the backyard.”
“What?!….she...backyard...” Monster #1 was frantic.
“Relax. I’m just yankin’ your chain. She hasn’t shown any desire to climb any tree that I’m aware of. You have got to learn to relax. These are kids we’re talking about. They’re tough, resilient and fearless. That’s what makes this job so much fun.”
“FUN! You call bike accidents and tree climbing fun?!”
“Look, if she decides she wants to climb trees, I’m not gonna stop her and neither are you.”
“Oh? And how do you plan on stopping me.”
“Just try it and you’ll find out. I’ll have her climbing every tree from here to the county line.”
“We’ll just see about that,” said Monster #1. There was a short pause in the conversation for which Monster #2 was very grateful. And then, as if from nowhere, Monster #1 said, “What about Lyme Disease. She could get that from a tick bite.”
“Will you stop. She could get bitten by ticks, ants, mosquitoes, fleas...”
“Fleas! They carry the plague!”
“I don’t think there are any plague infected fleas in Massachusetts.”
“Well then she might get malaria from a mosquito bite.”
“Again, not in Massachusetts.”
“Ugh, I’ve got another whole year with this guy,” Monster #2 thought.
“Look, Buddy, you’ve got to learn to relax. We go though this every night. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep doing this each night for the next year,” said Monster #2.
“You’re right. It exhausts me too,” said Monster #1. “But what if...”.
“But what if...what if...what if...It’s always ‘what if’ with you. Stop worrying about ‘what if’ and just enjoy her for what she is, a perfectly normal nine year old girl. No ‘buts’ or ‘what ifs’ just Jill, the perfect nine year old. Now quiet down. Here she comes.”
“I’m goin’ to bed, Mommy,” Jill shouted.
“Okay, I’ll be right up.” Jill ran across the hall and crawled into bed. Her mom came in and sat beside her on the bed. “Do you want me to tuck you in?”
“Yes, please.” Jill’s mother tucked her in and kissed her on the forehead.
“Mommy, will you check for monsters?”
“Jill, honey, you know there’s no such thing as monsters.”
“Could you check anyway. Please.”
“Okay. Where should I check first?”
“Under the bed,” Jill whispered. Jill’s mom lifted the covers and checked under the bed.
“Nope. Nothing here.”
“In the closet,” Jill whispered again. Jill’s mom opened the closet and took a good look around.
“Nothing in here, either.”
“Thank you, Mommy.”
“Good night, Pumpkin.”
“Good night, Mommy.” After her mother left Jill whispered, “Goodnight, Monsters.”