This week I screwed up as a father. I think I’ve been a darn good Daddy, excellent, in fact, but this is my first experience with a child and I suppose you’re bound to blow it at some point.
Over time, my wife and I have acquired an impressive collection of children’s movies. Barney Goes To The Zoo, Elmo’s Sing-A-Long, and The Wiggles Big Red Car just to name a few. For the most part, our collection is appropriate for infants and children under three years of age. I’ve never hesitated to grab a random video off the shelf on those occasions when my daughter wants nothing more than to watch a “D-B-B,” as she so sweetly says.
So I was a little surprised to find the movie “Monsters Inc.” had been added to our collection. It was sitting atop the television the other night, still in its wrapper, and having grown tired of all of the other videos I thought we’d give it a whirl. After all, how scary could it be? We’re talking Walt Disney Productions. They’ve been entertaining children for sixty years. If anyone knows what they are doing, it’s the folks at Disney, right? But, being the good Daddy I let my two-year-old decide for herself.
“Look, we have a new movie. Monsters, Inc.”
“I want to watch Wiggles, Daddy.”
“Oh, come on. How about Monsters, Inc.?”
“Okay, Daddy. Monsters, Inc.”
I kept a close eye on the movie as my wife and I went about our nightly chores – cooking, cleaning, laundry, folding, bill paying, more cleaning. There wasn’t anything about the movie that I would define as scary, so I figured my daughter would be fine. That being said, I’m 33. She’s two. Our definitions of scary may differ slightly. Age difference aside, my daughter seemed to be enjoying the movie and was even laughing at times.
“Monster’s are silly,” she’d say.
“Yeah, they’re really silly,” I’d assure her.
When the movie ended we went up to bed. That’s when I realized what I had done.
“Monsters under my bed, Daddy.”
“No. That’s silly. There are no monsters under your bed.”
“Yes, Daddy. They scare me.”
“Monsters are only pretend.”
As if she understood the concept of ‘pretend.’ But how else do you explain to a two-year-old that monsters don’t actually exist?
“Daddy, monsters in my closet.”
“There are no monsters in your room. They are only on TV. Just close your eyes. It’s very late. I will see you in the morning.”
At this point I attempted to walk out and close her door, but I didn’t get very far.
“I need socks. Monsters bite my feet.”
This went on and on for at least a half an hour. Every time I attempted to leave the room I’d hear, “Daddy, wait, me scared…Daddy, wait, sing me a song…Daddy, wait, sleep on the floor.” I put socks on her feet so the monsters would not nibble her toes and filled her crib with all of her favorite stuffed animals – orange tiger, mommy elephant, humpback whale, pink bear, etc. – assuring her there were no monsters in the room and that her animals would watch her through the night.
I finally made it out the door, tormented by quiet sobs that trailed off as I made my way downstairs. It’s been four nights since the viewing, but the monsters have yet to leave her room. Thanks to my blunder, I doubt they ever will.