Since our daughter was very young, I’ve always been careful anytime the subject of a “monster” came up, to casually say, “Of course, there are no such things as monsters in the real world.” Note: clearly there are monsters of the human variety, but that’s the subject for another post.
My intent in telling her monsters weren’t real, of course, was to reduce unnecessary fears about monsters under her bed. While I could claim this was a selfless act on my part to make her nights less scary… in truth it was probably more motivated by a desperate need for sleep.
Early conversations about Monsters were often prompted by a children’s book. Fairy tales can be damned scary! While calming her fears, I worried engendering this degree of rational thinking about imaginary creatures might also suppress some of the positive, creative uses of her imagination?
Fortunately that does not seem to be the case. I’m not a child psychologist, but it apears children have quite the talent for suspending disbelief when it benefits them. The perfect example is, of course, Santa Claus. Our daughter has a vested interest believing in the big guy and sleigh-full of toys.
At other times, though, our daughter will be very matter of fact about things. “Daddy, dragons don’t exist!”, she’ said recently shaking her head at how preposterous my suggestion I’d just seen one in the back yard was. Yet in the next breath she told me emphatically, “But fairies are real!”
So I guess telling her that imaginary creatures like scary monsters aren’t real hasn’t done any serious damage. I’m glad, as I would never want to squash her delightful imagination. In closing this post, let me share a quick exchange my daughter and I had the night before last:
- DD (on baby monitor) – “Daddy, there’s a monster in my closet!”
- Me (entering her room) – “But monsters aren’t real, Sweetheart.”
- DD (emphatically) – “No really. I think it’s a Heffalump, Daddy!”
- Me (stifling a grin) – “A Heffalump…?”
- DD (shrugging) – “Maybe it’s a Woozle?”