On Being a Parent: Monsters and Other Life Interruptions
My husband and I jumped onto the bus and backed away from the church. We headed out to pick up kids needing a ride to their afternoon activities meeting. This was our first time on this route.
As the kids boarded the bus, I introduced myself and my husband. One energetic pre-teen boy, Malachi, sat down and buckled up in the seat behind me. We made small talk about his likes and dislikes at school. I told him my sister taught kindergarten a few years back. He asked her name. I replied: “Mrs. Hamill.” His eyes widened and a smile came across his face.
“I don’t believe it! You and Mrs. Hamill are sisters!”
A few more pickups and we headed back to the church. As Malachi exited the bus, he turned and look at me and said, “Mrs. Hamill changed my life.”
With those words, he hurried off to his class. But I wanted to know more!
A few days later, all I had to do was mention the name, Malachi, to my sister and she laughed and started her story. She noticed that Malachi had a problem every single morning staying awake in her class. She kept him over a few minutes one afternoon to inquire about his bedtime hours. With an honest, childlike face, he came clean of his problem.
“Mrs. Hamill, I go to bed early, but there are monsters in my room. They are under my bed, in my closet and behind the furniture. They keep me awake almost all night,” he said.
My sister knew she had her work cut out for her with this tired little boy.
The next morning, it was easy to tell that Malachi had had another sleepless night. Mrs. Hamill presented him with a spray bottle filled with water, labeled “Monster Spray.” She instructed him to hide it away in his gear until he was home. When he went to bed, he was to spray underneath his bed, in the closet and behind the furniture. She assured him monsters wouldn’t come in his room.
He walked away believing he had the solution to his problem.
The next morning, the look on Malachi’s face told my sister all she needed to know; the monster problem was over.
A few years later, Malachi’s class was asked to write a letter to a favorite teacher. Needless to say, his was written to Mrs. Hamill, telling her how she had changed his life as a kindergarten student.
Why do I tell this story? Because I can relate to Malachi. My problem was not monsters, but I had my own fears as a child. Haven’t we all, at one point or another? I wonder how many little children, teens or even adults have fears they’re afraid to address.
I believe we parents and grandparents can make a world of difference in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives if we really listen. We can still the rough waters in a tender heart, be it fears of not being liked, of not being pretty or smart, of not having the right phone or gadget.
Encouraging words can be life-saving to a child who sees the world as an ugly place. We adults may think it is no big deal, but to a child wondering what’s wrong with them, indeed, it is a big deal.
If monster spray worked for Malachi, I believe any problem can be solved with someone who cares. We know there’s not much more important than making a child feel safe and loved. Come on … let’s change a life!
“Everything we say or don’t say makes an imprint on our child’s heart.”
–Patty Houser , author, teacher, mentor, inspirational speaker
By Antje Hill