Sunday, 11 March 2012

Monsters

There is a shark in our local swimming pool. It cruises beneath my nine-year-old, jaws stretched in anticipation of her flailing heels. Back stroke is deadly for the shark, undetected, threatens to swoop from the depths and clamp her from behind.

The most dangerous thing about the shark is that it is invisible and therefore unavoidable. She knows only that it lurks somewhere in those turquoise depths awaiting her.

Each week, nonetheless, she returns from her swimming lessons with flesh unscathed. But new perils must be faced at home for there are monsters in her bedroom. They unfurl when the lights are dimmed - nightmare shadows on the wall. The fluffy pink dressing gown hanging off the doorknob morphs into a hunchback; the light with its shade, a crone in a witch's hat, and invisible horrors issue through the black slit where the wardrobe doors don't quite close.

'Nonsense!' says the Vicar who doesn't believe in hauntings. But I have lived with monsters too. Their forms shift with age. Bathrobes and lampshades no longer terrorise me and I am brave about cracks in cupboard doors.  My monsters lurk on motorways waiting to engulf my children if they travel without me. They take shape on the landing if my wee ones sleep in longer than usual. They leer at me from the depths of the future in which nameless horrors may be skulking.

I must therefore be patient about the shark even though, from my superior vantage point, I can see that that the scary deeps are empty.

26 comments:

  1. This is most brilliant and most familiar. Especially the motorway ref. I happily wave my husband and kids off to school each morning, whilst saying a silent prayer that they'll get there safely. Precious cargo.

    x

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    1. So glad it's not just me! Never guessed children could make one so neurotic.

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  2. You do know about monster spray don't you? Alas, it does not work for adults, but only for children.

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    1. Sounds like the Dream Cream to avert nightmares that her teacher was just telling me about.

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  3. I think the neurosis kicks in big time the first time you leave your child at nursery. And it NEVER stops!

    As an aside I found myself too petrified to make my way from bedroom to bathroom for a pee when reading "The Little Stranger" by Sarah Waters last year.

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    1. Yes, I still feel a hand will grab my ankles if I get out of bed in the night. And I thought the vicar's trouser press was a murderer when I glimpsed its shadowy form by the bed the other night.

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  4. I am constantly worrying about all the awful things that could happen to Little A. My head is filled with unwanted images and thoughts. So that would make me rather neurotic.

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  5. I am constantly worrying about all the awful things that could befall Little A. My head is often the recipient to many an uninvited thought or image of some horrific event. I think that classes me as neurotic. And normal.

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    1. I think these worries are permanent. When I'm 97 I shall be worrying that my children won't look both ways when they go to collect their pensions.

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  6. No monster worries in our family - just a chronic aversion to sitting on chairs that strangers have sat on 'because they might have done a wind on them'. Monsters are much easier to cope with, socially.

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    1. This is obviously a case of monsters in disguise as flatulence.

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  7. My eldest son was terrified of sand until the age of nearly 4. He called it 'shona', no idea why, and cried with terror. It passed though and neither son now has an irrational fear like that.

    The monster in the cupboard fear has passed too (my youngest).

    Perhaps you could suggest that the shark is a boy-eating shark only. It hates girls because they have long hair which gets stuck in its teeth.

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  8. Can't remember if I ever had this problem or not.

    Thus was your blog blessed with an utterly unhelpful answer. Comment. Whatever.

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    1. I love anyone who can be bothered to fill my comments box and am glad you've so successfully vanquished demons.

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    2. I love anyone who bothers to fill my comments box...

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  9. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

    That is all. :)

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  10. Oh my word. This is *such* a brilliantly written post. And you dare to say the unsayable: that fear of motorways. Or crossings. Or my children getting in a car with someone else's parents. Or school coaches. Or, or, or. The list goes on for ever.

    My Gran died aged 96 and she was indeed still worrying about her 60-and-70-year-old children crossing the road. She was a working class northern woman who would have dismissed middle-class panicky navel-gazing about chlidren's safety with one sniff - but in truth, the only thing she ever cared about was her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren making it safely through the day.

    I have always been a worrier, ever since there were Cybermen in my wardrobe and Daleks down the loo and Russians about to drop nuclear bombs on us. But having children has made it all so much worse!

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    1. Yes, my mind has become a complete glutton for worry since I began breeding and now I worry that I worry!

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  11. This was a really good post. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Know exactly what you mean about monsters changing - I'm always looking out for them when children away from me.

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    1. Thank you. Worrying is all part of safeguarding, isn't it, so long as we don't let it blind us.

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  12. Brilliant. Love this so much. And the car thing? 100% me. Everytime someone else takes them off I think - 'there goes my entire world. please don't crash'. Thought I was being overly anxious but I see I'm not the only one.
    Hope the shark swims off to better climes very soon. x

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    1. I suspect that you're in a safe majority and that cave mummies felt the same when their wee ones went off on their first mammoth hunt. It's an inconvenient strategy of Nature to keep us on our toes.

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  13. You spend most of the night hoping the kids stay in bed until a reasonable hour, then at 6.10am you loiter outside their bedroom door, peaking through the crack in the door to see if you can see the duvet cover moving... all because they usually wake at 6am!

    & then your eldest goes off to uni "up north" - every night there is a niggle in yr mind wondering if he is safe...

    No wonder I have grey hairs and massive worry lines!!

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  14. Here are a few of the monsters stomping about in my head. Motorways, superviruses, aeroplanes, asteroids, the sea, carbon monoxide, mad axemen, swimming pools, terrorist attacks, meningitis, gap years, school trips ... Bastards. All of them.

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