Holidays, Parenting

Manners And Monsters


Q: It’s getting way past Christmas and my kids still haven’t written their ‘thank you’ notes. How late is too late?

A: Just asking that question puts you in an entirely different realm in the gift giving and receiving departments.

When your kids are tiny, you’re the one writing the thank you notes. And you ARE thankful. You’re totally broke and sleep-deprived and anything you got from anyone is awesome! Plus, they make these adorable little note cards and precious stationary to write them out on. As they get older, however, this becomes a chore most akin to blow-drying a stray cat. I, myself, am not a stickler for the Thank You note (a thank you call is just fine in my eyes, especially if you both have the same cell phone provider.)

However, there are exceptions. Thank you’s MUST be sent to the following:

Anyone over the age of 85

Anyone who gave you anything made out of marzipan

Anyone who gave a gift over $5,000 (US dollars)

Anyone you (or your kids) have done prison time with

Any vampires who gave ANY gifts

Anyone who knitted, cross-stitched or did a macramé of the likeness of Mount Rushmore

Your pharmacist

And that’s all. Your family, your friends, your neighbors… they will all understand that your nine-year-old son would rather submit to a strip-search than sit down and write out a heart-felt ‘thank you’ note for the pretzel twists they left him in your mailbox.

The best kind of thank you notes are not those you have forced your kids to write, but those they choose to write themselves. Those will be cherished by Grandma, your pharmacist and Edward. And as long as those notes make it into the mail before Easter, you’re doing great in my book.

Q: My daughter, four, is suddenly terrified of monsters under her bed and in her closet at bedtime. Nothing I say or do seems to help.

A: She is going to totally grow out of this. It might not be until she’s 40, but she will. I can personally relate to what your sweet babygirl is going through, as I slept with my mom, off and on, until I was 10 (TEN). In my defense, I was allowed to watch The Amityville Horror, The Shining and The Captain & Tennille TV show… so no wonder I was such a scaredy cat. That captain hat alone was enough to frighten anyone. (Why did he wear it? What is he captaining?)

It also didn’t help that we grew up in a very big house with the kids cloistered upstairs, the adults downstairs and a whole lotta Freddy Kruger hiding spots in between. Not to mention the absolute terror I felt after watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Even now when I think of that totally creepy kid-catcher dancing around in his bizarre black cape singing about ‘free sweets’ I get the chills.

Here are some tips that worked for (me and) my kids:

Stuff it: Because under the bed is bothering her, load it up with stuffed animals and toys and sofa cushions so there’s no room for monsters. Let her help with this as the empowerment alone could help.

Circle of protection: Create a perimeter of safety around her with a bunch of her favorite stuffed animals or dolls while she sleeps. (This totally worked for my son.)

Spritzer: Beast-B-Gone spray (travel-size Febreze bottle with Sharpie label.) Keep it by the bed to use when needed to fend off an impending attack.

Routine: Keep the same routine each night. Do not make a big deal out of her being scared. Just assume that she isn’t and when she starts to fuss, check under the bed and in the closet and get on out.

The Gold Standard: Install a tiny nightlight in her room or right outside of it, and use a small fan for some white noise. Usually, they get scared when they hear something (like you washing dishes) which to them in the dark sounds like Chucky sharpening his meat cleaver.

As parents we tend to Oprah our kids to death and discuss everything profusely. Tell her she’s fine and then leave the room. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, she’ll stop making a big deal out of it. And never, ever let her watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (chill bumps)

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