Friday, February 15, 2013

Do the Monster Mess Mash!

Tonight at bedtime, Sam started freaking out about monsters.

First he needed Daddy to remove every single toy from his room! Because toys attract monsters!

Then he needed Daddy to find his foam sword, so he could "ha" any monsters who showed up anyway!!

Then (after Jon hunted through the whole house for the blade), he screamed in terror that Daddy needed to remove the sword, because it was a toy that would attract monsters!!!

I love toddler logic.


A few days ago, I was trying to organize a clean-up. Eric suddenly and randomly posited that messes bred monsters.

I latched onto this idea. "Absolutely!" I exclaimed, inspired into eloquence. "After all, unwashed dishes attract flies and cockroaches. Raw sewage seems to spawn rats. Piles of dirty laundry breed lice. Even piles of "clean" laundry can get infested if left undisturbed and dusty for long enough. Filth seems to correlate to vermin of all kinds. It makes perfect sense that a messy house would spawn monsters!"

Eric corrected me: it wouldn't spawn monsters, just draw them like a magnet through the magic portal from the alternate world where they normally live.

Whatever. The kids worked cheerfully for over an HOUR, helping to "monster proof" our home.

Sam ran about whacking imaginary monsters with his foam sword. It occurred to me that this exercise might give him ideas, but I figured his room was pretty neat, so I needn't worry.

Last night, Sam woke up at 5 a.m. and cried. His room gets cold, so I went in to re-cover him. He whimpered something garbled that sounded like "There's a monster."

"There's a monster?" I repeated back to him.

He woke up and gave me an alarmed look. "No!" he answered, decidedly.

"Oh," I backpedaled. "I agree. I didn't see one." Then I worried that I had further planted ideas I would regret.

(I never did figure out what Sam had originally said. I just sat with him for *yawn* twenty minutes until he fell back asleep. (That was one of those key parenting moments. Do you let the toddler climb into bed with you and start a terrible habit? Or do you tough it out and insist he stay in his own bed? I can see why incoherent, sleep-deprived parents give in, and regret it for the next five years. Aren't you proud of my executive reasoning abilities?))

Poor Jon was unaware of all this history. This is what comes of working by day and sleeping by night. (In fairness to Jon, he's been working long hours, coming home, and then staying up super late, babysitting his work from home. I got up with Sam because I knew Jon hasn't been getting enough sleep.)


Thus, it was natural that tonight, Sam started worrying about monsters in his room.

First he made general comments. Then, when Jon tucked him in and headed for the door, Sam suddenly shrieked in terror.

Jon paused. "What's wrong?" he asked, and Sam pointed to a toy.

Well, fine. No reason to be scared of a toy, but when is toddler anxiety ever logical? Jon considerately picked up the toy to remove it.

Sam pointed to another. And another.

"Is that all?" Jon asked, patiently, and Sam went nuts, pointing at every toy in sight.

Jon's arms filled up. "Hold on," he sighed. "Let me dump these and come back."

As he headed out, Sam requested his foam sword to "ha" monsters.

Jon hunted high and low without success. He returned to Sam to report his failure. "It's probably in Eric and Danny's room," Sam suggested, accurately. Jon insists that's an exact quote, and I believe him. (Sam's third birthday is still six weeks away. Love having smart kids.)

Naturally, as soon as Jon returned with the sword, Sam changed his mind. It was a toy! And might attract further monsters!!!

I love how toddler logic is mutable, and secondary to the joys of panic. (I should mention that Sam has recently developed an enjoyment of scary movies. It's hilarious to watch him shriek and scream in terror/delight. After we parents giggled uncontrollably from watching Sam react to the bear scenes in Brave, Jon commented, "I have GOT to get this kid on a roller coaster.")

Finally, Daddy drew a line in the carpet. Or the five wooden blocks on the carpet. Whatever. "Why am I doing all the work?" Jon asked, reasonably. "Here's an empty diaper box. Fill it with toys yourself. When you're done, call downstairs to me. I'll come retrieve it."

Ten minutes later, our sweet Sammy was asleep.

Nothing like making the kid take personal responsibility. Good job, honey. John Rosemond would be proud.


Two months ago, I posted something about Sam "ha"ing imaginary scary monsters with foam swords. I posited that he was developmentally, albeit not chronologically, three years old. "Three. Three is generally a good year," I said, then predicted, naively, "Granted, it might involve monsters under Sam's bed, but we'll whomp 'em with foam weapons as necessary."

It was such a good plan. Simple. Plausible.

How was I to know it would backfire so horribly?

Three. Three isn't such a terrible year. Granted, it might involve intractable monsters under Sam's bed, but look on the bright side. At least this will be one little boy with a very clean room....Right?



After I signed off on that post, I went upstairs to go to bed.

First, I saw a diaper box at the top of the stairs, just a few feet from the door to Sam's room.

I investigated further. Yup, the box was two-thirds of the way full with toys. (Most of them big and bulky plastic items. Like I said, his room was already pretty neat.)

I peeked inside his room. There was still a spot of dirty laundry on the floor. Apparently monsters go straight for the toys, not the clothes. (Sounds like he's been eavesdropping on Christmas Orex stories, which are about wicked monsters who are always trying to heist Santa's sleigh.)

Then I did a double-take. Where exactly was my anxious tot? His bed was empty. (Oh, no, the monsters got him after all...!) Just then, Daniel popped up from next door.

"Sam's not in here," Daniel whispered. "He's on the floor of my room. He came in and lay down and fell asleep. So I went and got his sippy cup and blanket and covered him."

(And what was my nine-year-old doing up at midnight? --Never mind. I located Sam, sprawled on the floor of his brothers' room, apparently safe from invisible monsters (despite the mess on their floor), but in terrible danger of dust mites. SIGH.)

I peeked back in Sam's room. Still a few toys in the corners.

My new theory is that Sam got partway through his clean-up, got tired, and decided to find an alternate shelter for the night.

This teaches me, yet again, not to make assumptions. When I said that "ten minutes later, he was asleep," I should have said, obviously, "Ten minutes later, he was quiet."

We are so totally scrubbing his room tomorrow...

And then taking Sister Grambo's idea of putting a "monster trap" outside his door. And baiting it with a toy. Jon suggested, "If we really want to play with his mind, we could buy him a new stuffed animal. And then put IT in the trap."

No, no, honey. A messy room is bad enough. We don't need a messed-up mind as well.


Krenn said...

Wow, I've missed a lot of sammy's antics. When are you coming to visit again? I need to see this sort of thing.

Carolyn said...

I think Sammy should watch Monster's Inc!

Jon said...

At least we "planned" to clean his room yesterday. It never happened and then when Sam went to bed, he made sure we got it practically SPOTLESS.

All he allowed to remain was furniture, a laundry hamper, and a couple of other items that I convinced him monsters didn't care about. It took 20 minutes.

He still wasn't satisfied that there weren't any toys hiding under the bed or in the closet. I finally had to just leave and let him deal with it.

I'm beginning to wonder if he might need a roommate to "protect" him. Or I could just convince him that swords are definitely NOT toys and that he can use it to protect himself. We'll find out tonight if that works.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to print this story and send it to Sister Hobson. She loves hearing about her adopted great-grandchildren.

I have heard that stuffed dragons eat monsters during the winter months. Perhaps a dragon could be posted at the top of the stairs every night.

Grandma Homer