Sometimes, when my two beautiful daughters were little girls and it was time for them to go to bed, one or both would say with genuine concern, “Daddy, I’m afraid that there are monsters in my room.”
|A monster under the bed?|
Of course, I couldn’t have blamed them for that innocent fear in any case, but especially because my two little girls had experienced the most traumatic thing little girls could imagine. My daughters lost their mother to cancer when they were seven-year-old and four-years-old, respectively.
On those occasions when one of both of my daughters and, later, my The Favorite Son would express their fear of monsters in their rooms, I’d simply answer, “Don’t worry honey. That kind of monster isn’t real and real monsters are afraid of me.”
My explanation usually was the remedy for the “monster under the bed" problem, but then, my daughters asked, “What are real monsters, Daddy?”
I always tried to be relevant and appropriate based upon my children’s level of maturity, so I’d say something like, “Real monsters look like real people. In fact, real monsters are people.”
My little girls would then ask, “How will we know if someone is a monster, “Daddy.”
The only think I could say was, “First, don’t worry too much about it because there aren’t nearly as many monsters as there are good people. By the way, those monsters are afraid of me, too," I'd add. "Usually, you won’t be able to tell the difference, but I’ve been teaching you how to stay away from monsters since the day you were born.”
Just the day before the day I wrote this, I learned that someone with whom I am acquainted is very likely a monster. I didn’t know the monster well, but I’d seen and talked to him dozens of times. The monster’s son played with my son on more than one of the baseball teams that I’ve coached or managed over the years.
According to the story I read in the on-line edition of the local newspaper, though, the monster “sexually assaulted the child, who was younger than 11, multiple times over the course of a year.”
I don’t know anything about the victim. I don’t think I want to know.
|Pope Francis, "It seems that the Great Accuser|
has been unleashed and has it in for the bishops."
Monsters are real. They look just like everyone else. Often, there’s no way to know the difference. A monster could be a member of the clergy in whom a child and his family place their complete trust or the neighbor who you’ve known for years. Monsters do horrible things. Pope Francis notwithstanding, “The Great Accuser,” aka the Devil, isn’t responsible for the monster’s behavior. Only the monster is.
One more think is certain. It’s a tragedy have to tell a child that monsters are real, but not as much of a tragedy of the loss of a child’s innocence.
Children grow up fast enough.