When I came home on Sunday, Hufflespawn’s room was an absolute mess. Not a surprise, I mean the kid’s four, it happens. But when I told him it was time to clean up, he was adamant that we couldn’t because all the stuff on the floor was a booby trap for monsters, and if we cleaned then the monster could get in.
I now had some choices:
a) Tell him there’s no such thing as monsters and leave the room a mess.
b) Tell him there’s no such thing as monsters and force him to clean his room.
c) Provide another solution to the monster problem, which removed the barrier to cleaning the room.
I went with option c), and said, “Well, the problem is that while this is great for catching monsters, it’ll also catch mom and dad if we need to come in here and that wouldn’t be cool. So, I’ll tell you what. Let’s make something to keep the monsters out that we can hang on your door. Then you’ll know if one is trying to get in, but we can still keep the floor clean. Deal?”
“We get to make a REAL booby trap? Okay!”
Now, I’m sure people will read this and say to themselves, “There’s no such thing as monsters. Why encourage fantastical thinking when it’s something that he’s going to need to outgrow?” In my mind, it’s not a matter of real vs. imaginary. It’s a matter of trust–I remember what it was like as a kid to have a fear of something monstrous and have an adult brush it off as imaginary. Telling a kid not to worry because something isn’t “real” rarely works. Their fear is very real to them–denying the validity of that fear just makes the child distrust you. Now, this isn’t to say that you need to feed into the fear or exacerbate it, but you can respect your kid’s fear and work with them. In this case, I hear my son telling me that he doesn’t feel safe, so my job as a parent is to empower him to feel secure in his surroundings.
This is where magick can be a wonderful tool.
I grabbed some bells and some red worsted cotton yarn and measured three lengths that were as long as Hufflespawn is tall. We knotted them together and I had him hold the tail as I began to braid them together. We would braid for the length of his palm from wrist to middle finger, then thread a bell onto the center strand and continue braiding. At each bell, we said a little rhyme:
No monster likes this song!
Bells make monsters yell!
Monsters run from me!
When we finished, we tied it to his door. As promised, it makes a jangling noise when people go in or out, and Hufflespawn is quite proud of his monster trap.
Oh, yeah, and the floor is clear, too.