Monsters lead such innnnnnnnnnteresting lives, so says Bugs. And they do too. Thanks to the vivid imaginations of young children everywhere.
I have an incredible little girl named Tully in my class who just turned six last Thursday. She has been charming me with her writing and drawings about monsters. Strange as it seems, given the fact that I routinely expose my first grade students to the monsters of Greek Mythology, I have not come across too many children who regularly write about things that go bump in the night. Those terrifying things that lurk in your closet or stow away under your bed waiting for you to let down your defenses before they grab you. When I was little this last bit became a reality thanks to the torturous sense of humor of my older brother Wally who unexpectedly grabbed my foot when I stepped towards my bed after getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I wonder how long he was hiding under there to scar me for life.
Anyhoo, I have become totally enamored of Tully's artwork (see below).
The purpose for monsters became clear to me as I looked at Tully's drawings. How silly that I never realized it before, but monsters are there for us to conquer. To help assure ourselves that the things we fear are not all that bad. That monsters can come but the worst they will do is eat your candy. They remind us that we are in control. How did I miss that? Did I miss that or was it just so obvious that I did not think about it as deeply as I have this past week?
For her birthday I thought it would be great if I could read Tully a few books about children who battle monsters and come out on top. Mercer Mayer has some fantastic books depicting brave children (boys and girls) who confront their 'something' or 'nightmare' or 'monster' and discover that it is ultimately harmless.
Check out these three by Mercer Mayer:
There's Something in my Attic
There's a Nightmare in my Closet
There are Monsters Everywhere
Another title I just discovered is called Harry and the Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach. In this story a little boy discovers a 'whatzit' hiding behind the furnace which made me laugh because it reminds me of this story from Joy's childhood.
As an adult I find there are unfortunately still some monsters that I have had to face. Happily, like the boy with the cork gun in There's a Nightmare in my Closet, I have found that when I confront the things that scare me the most they turn out to be less fearsome than my imagination created. There is a power in facing down the monsters, in taking away the mystery of wandering fear and dealing with reality rather than fantasy.
Monsters may lead "innnnnnnnnteresting lives" but life is much more interesting when they are put in perspective and float quietly through the side door.