It was recently Halloween and you’re really into monsters right now.
Mostly silly ones—fluffy pink things, with one big eye and furry claws. “A monster is coming,” you’ll tell me, eyes widening. “He’s going to eat you!”
That’s my cue. “Oh no!” I shriek in mock horror.
“Ohhhh…it’s okay,” you clarify. “It’s just a friendly monster!”
“Phew,” I say. And then another monster comes. This one, I learn, is going to steal all of my pizza. Then another monster. And another. Rinse, repeat, until you’re ready for your next snack.
What you don’t know is that when you’re not looking, the grown-ups are talking about monsters too.
Monsters high up in Las Vegas hotel rooms and high up in Hollywood. Monsters with torches. Monsters with guns.
What you don’t know is that when your mom hugs you goodbye, she’s worried about the monsters.
The grown-ups at your daycare have monsters on the brain, too. Those days when you and your classmates huddle in a corner, playing a game of who can be quietest until the teachers tell you it’s over.
That’s monster training.
At daycare, they teach you to say, “Walk away,” if someone is doing something you don’t like. (I know this because you use this strategy often with the dog.) That, too, is monster training.
A few years ago when you were tiny, we were rocking in your nursery on a cold November afternoon. I was scrolling through my phone when suddenly, a regular night in Paris was shattered to pieces by—who else—monsters. I looked down at your oblivious, peaceful little face and decided right then and there that your room was a safe space. No phones, no news.
I’m not looking forward to the day you learn why you spent all that time practicing silence and saying no. Why I stalled when you asked me why the American flags were so low. I don’t know what I’ll say or if it will be the right thing.
For now, I’m grateful that in your room and your mind, it’s just fluffy pink monsters who want to eat my face and steal my pizza.