Career and Family
By Chastity Lillicreme
December 11, 1999
Thank you very much for your comments regarding my previous column dealing with telling children about the '80s. This is a very emotional topic for some people, as is evidenced by the language used in a few of the letters. Rod Grier of Tampa, FL, writes, "Dear Chastity, WHAT THE FUCK?" I know Rod, I know. Adelaide Inktomson of San Dimas, CA had this to say: "When telling your children about the '80s, it's important not to forget some of the good things that came out of the decade, such as Mary Lou Retton, the Dove Bar, and Barbara Bush." Thank you, Adelaide, and I'm happy to pass that along to my readers.
This week, I wanted to write a column that answered a question asked by one of my readers calling himself A Concerned Dad. "Dear Chastity Lilycreem[sic]," he writes, "my seven-year-old suffers from many irrational fears such as monsters under the bed, boobie men in the closet, Hispanics outside the window, etc., and I want to know how you recommend putting these fears to rest without medication or beatings. I wouldn't mind so much if it weren't getting in the way of my sex life, but it's hard for my wife and I to have a satisfying encounter when our child is sleeping in between us."
Well, Concerned Dad, you've brought up a topic all parents of young children have to face eventually. I understand, there's nothing more annoying than being awash in the passionate throws of coitus and having your son or daughter come running into your bedroom screaming about monsters or Hispanics outside the window. When Kelsie was six, in fact, she had a habit of routinely interrupting late-night lovemaking sessions with claims of hearing "ghosts moaning," "squeaking," and "thumping noises." It took weeks before we finally came to the conclusion that there was probably a raccoon in the attic causing the noises that were frightening her. Once we moved her bedroom to the basement, the problem went away.
When my oldest daughter, Jennifer, was ten, she was thoroughly convinced that there were troll people living in the toilet that would suck her in when she flushed. Repeated explanations that she was too big and fat to be sucked down the toilet didn't help, nor did demonstrations where we tried, unsuccessfully, to flush the cat. At our wits end, we finally had to take the entire toilet apart and show her that there were no troll people living inside it. It was a hassle and we had to use the bathroom at the Fuel 'N Save for a week, but it worked to allay her fears. Plus, we all learned a lot about how a toilet works, which was a bonus.
Where children come up with these bizarre fears is usually a mystery, but sometimes there's a genuine logic behind them. When my daughters were very young, Kelsie just four and Jennifer a bouncing five-year-old, they began to become very attached to their auntie Jessica, my husband's sister, who would visit the house several times a week. After a month or so, Jessica didn't come around for a couple days, and my daughters started to go into nervous tremors, refusing to eat or speak until she came to visit. During the time she was gone, they couldn't sleep at night, they were always covered in sweat, and they were constantly vomiting. At first I thought it was cute that they missed their aunt so much, but then I found out that she had been giving them heroin.
Nowadays, auntie Jessica only gets to visit the girls through plexiglass.
The best thing for you to do, Concerned, is to first explain to your seven-year-old why it's illogical that boobie men would be in the closet or Hispanics would be outside the window. If that doesn't work, as it probably won't, I would recommend buying your child a life-sized clown mannequin and prop it up so it's looming over the bed -- this will make the child feel protected while he or she sleeps. If even that fails to work, and your child is losing weight and vomiting, it's time to make sure no relative is slipping them illegal drugs in during their visits.
I hope this helps not only you, Concerned Dad, but also other readers out there who may be experiencing the same problem.
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