parenting

Dear Cheese Father,

My wife and I are also expecting our first child (congrats btw). As we set up her room, what can we do to keep monsters out from under the bed and out of the closet?

Bedroom Security Chief

Dear Chief,

Thank you, and congratulations to you as well.

I'm afraid children will always have monsters in the dark spaces of their rooms; Monsters in the dark it’s a natural part of life that we just have to deal with, like pain, taxes, and squirrels getting into bird-feeders. All sorts of monsters are simply drawn to children.

Please note: I said "children," not "babies." Babies just don't have what monsters are looking for yet, so you've got time to plan ahead.

First, you need to be aware of what makes a monster seek out a child in the first place. There are as many reasons for this as there are types of monsters, but they can be generalized into two main groups:

*Really they're only trying to scare the kids because the fear itself is what many of them actually feed on (or rather the nervous energy created by the fear). Very few monsters try to actually eat children anymore. Not since the defeat of the Boogie Man some years ago at the hands of three little girls.

The first group are the bug-eyed, tentacled things that threaten* to eat our little ones. The second group are the ones looking for a human friend to go on improbable adventures with. This is the kind you want nesting under the bed. If your child befriends one of these friendlier monsters, it will instinctively protect her when other monsters inevitably intrude.

Unfortunately, this is not as simple as it sounds. Thanks to the reputation earned by the first group, these well-intentioned creatures find themselves lingering in the shadows while trying to think up a non-creepy way to emerge from under the bed and introduce themselves. Naturally, this rarely goes well.

As parents, it's our job to help with this introduction. But don't just wait for something to creep in and then decide if it's good or bad for your child. Be proactive about it.

For example, some cultures deal with this issue by turning the tables on nature. While these creatures are creeping in from the wild, they send their children out where the wild things are. These children then endeavor to befriend and/or capture monsters that (with proper training) can safeguard them from other monsters. When these children grow up, their monster friends are then trained to protect the next generation until old enough to go catch their own.

Now I couldn't help but notice that your email address suggests that you are not from such a region and wouldn't have a life-long monster friend to guard you little girl's room. Well, it's time to go out and find one. And since you're new at this, here's what to look for:

There are plenty of monsters that are good with kids; each of which is generally something small and fluffy that smiles a lot. I personally recommend the Pikaboo. Timid but friendly once it knows you're not a threat, easy to train, and enough voltage in its cute little cheek pouches to defend its territory from other monsters.

Pikaboo Pikaboo attacking

The best place to find one would be deep in an abandoned power plant that was built on a sacred burial ground. But these are hard to come by, so the next best thing would be an a old abandoned electronics store. Just in case you don't have one of these nearby either, a decent Plan C would be to look under the clearance rack in a used video game shop.

Now despite it's appearance, there's no need to invest in pokéballs or a proton pack to catch one. All you really need to do is call for one. But don't just shout out to it, because they're so timid, a gentler approach is required. First, mimic a frightened Pikaboo by putting your hands over your face. Then remove your hands and imitate their call, "pikaboo" (pee-kah-boo). Repeat until you hear one answer back, and continue until it stops hiding its own face. This means that it has accepted you as a friend and will follow you home.

When your little girl is old enough, teach her the call by facing her and repeating the process. See if you can make a game out of it. Before long, she'll be playing this game with the Pikaboo you've brought her, and the two will quickly become friends.

One final note to other parents reading along. Even if you have an older child who's already got a boggart under the bed or a kraken in the closet, it's not too late. it's just going to be harder to remove the current occupant. Go out and find up to 6 monster friends. It's not illegal or anything to have more than this. It's just that a battle with that many monsters would cause serious property damage to your home.

~Kevin

pretty divider
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Drew in hand

As you can see, I've got my hands full with with an important new "project." I've been parenting just over two months now and have found that I can't help spending a large percentage of my free time with the little guy. Although this is partly because the actual amount of free time I have has been severely diminished since this memo went up at work 2.5 months ago.

Overtime Memo

Thankfully, things have eased up slightly since then. I've actually had multiple days off this last month - a couple of which were even consecutive.

Anyway, the point is that these two things combined have forced me to temporarily defenestrate the idea of sticking to a schedule. (Don't worry "Chief," your question isn't as pressing as you think.) As usual, you have my assurance that updates are in fact still coming. It's just hard to predict when.

May I suggest subscribing to my RSS feed? Or if you'd rather, I can notify you by email when I next update. Just leave a comment or email me through the Question Submission Form

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Sorry everyone, but for the past couple weeks I seem to have forgotten that I run an advice column. Let me explain by answering one of your questions:

Dear Cheese Man,

i heard a rumor that you're going to be a cheese daddy. Is that why you haven't been updating?

Nosey

Yes, the rumors are true, I am a Daddy! I know it's going to be a lot more work once the munchkin is born, but that doesn't mean fatherhood has been easy so far. Pregnancy has had a number of side-effects on my Beloved and I.

I've always been sympathetic to the troubles of others (why else would I start an advice column?), but somehow most of my symapathy pains have been worse than the originals that Beth is experiencing:

I'm forgetting things all the time; I've had a week and a half of nose bleeds, and I even had a miserable day of morning sickness that woke me at 4am... Meanwhile Beth has only been slightly forgetful, mildly nauseous, and had a single nose bleed.

This all has taught me a couple of things. First, is that doing my share of parenting already comes naturally. Second, is that unless I make The Square Root of Cheese a priority, Life will continue to present me with other ways to fill my time. I hereby commit to answering as many of your questions as I can by this time next week. (Don't forget, you can submit your questions right here.) Lastly, until this "Pregnancy Brain" passes, I'm learning to leave myself reminders of my commitments and things I need to finish. So, assuming I can remember where my reminders are, you can look forward to

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