January 22, 2012

A bedtime story for my daughter

Earlier this weekend I said I had a story floating around in my head that I wanted to write for my three-year-old daughter, Zoe. She's been having nightmares for weeks, months even, all about a non-specific, indescribable monster. We've tried cutting out scary shows.  We've tried "monster spray." We've tried music and talking about her dreams and feelings till we're all sick of the topic. 

But still the monster persists.

So I wrote this, in the hopes that it would help. She loves it, of course, because it's about her, but I thought I'd share it out here to see what y'all think, too. I'd love to have it illustrated (my drawing skill is sub-par at best) and print a copy for her one day. But for now, I'm content with reading it aloud to her from my computer screen.  

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it (after the jump).  :)

ZOE AND THE MONSTER

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Zoe, and she was afraid of monsters.

Every night, she’d dream about a monster with shaggy, purple fur, and long, pointy teeth, and big, green eyes and giant, sharp claws.

And every night, she’d wake up, crying from her dream and creep in to sleep with her Mom and Dad. But their bed wasn’t big enough for all three of them, and so they’d cram together and get tangled up and wake up in a heap on the floor. 

One night, as Mom put Zoe to bed, she smoothed Zoe’s hair back and kissed her forehead, and she said, “It’s time you know, Zoe, that you can control your dreams. When you dream of the monster tonight, all you need to do is say, I wish for something, and whatever you wish for will appear, and you can defeat the monster.”

Zoe smiled. She was tired of being afraid, and this sounded like a good idea. So she held out her arms for that one last hug and said, “OK, Mom. I’ll try.”

That night, Zoe dreamed she was in a land of princes and princesses, on a large green hill with a castle on the horizon. The sky was blue, and the sun was yellow and the ground smelled like earth and roses. A rainbow appeared above the castle, and Zoe smiled and lifted her face up to the sun.

But then the monster appeared. And he was big, with shaggy, purple fur, and long, pointy teeth and big, green eyes and giant, sharp claws.  

When she saw him, Zoe grew scared, but she remembered what Mom said, and she stood up straighter and clenched her hands into brave little fists and said, “I wish for…” But then she trailed off, because she didn’t know what to wish for. And the monster kept coming, and Zoe woke up, crying, and that night, the family all slept in Mom and Dad’s too-small bed, and they woke up in a heap on the floor.

That day in school, Zoe went to the Art Center. Her art teacher gave her a crayon and a paper with a square on it. “I want you to turn this square into something else,” said her art teacher, “using only this crayon.” And Zoe smiled, because when she looked at the square, she saw a robot, and she turned the square into that robot by drawing on it with her crayon.

That night, when Mom tucked Zoe into bed, she said, “Remember, all you need to do is say, I wish for something, and then you can defeat the monster.” Zoe smiled, held out her arms for that one last hug, and said, “OK, Mom. I’ll try.”

That night Zoe dreamed of the ocean and a boat on which she sailed to far-off lands. The water was blue and the sky was blue with a yellow sun and fluffy white clouds. It smelled of salt and seaweed, and Zoe smiled and lifted her face up to the sun.

But then the monster appeared. And he was big, with shaggy, purple fur, and long, pointy teeth and big, green eyes and giant, sharp claws.  

When she saw him, Zoe grew scared, but she remembered what Mom said, and she stood up straighter and clenched her hands into brave little fists and said, “I wish for…”  And this time, she thought of something.  “A crayon!” she said, because she remembered how she turned the square into a robot, and she wondered if she could turn the monster into something else. A giant crayon appeared in her hand, and Zoe smiled.

“Stop!” she shouted to the monster, and he did. She stared at the monster for a moment, then used her crayon to draw a tall, black hat on his head, with a daisy sticking out of the band. Then she drew a pink dress with green polka dots to cover his big tummy, and a red lollipop in his hand. Then she giggled because the monster looked so silly.

To Zoe’s surprise, the monster smiled, and started sucking on the lollipop, and didn’t pay attention to Zoe at all. So she ran to him and pushed him off the boat, into the water. And then she drew a life boat and threw it to him. As Zoe watched, the monster floated away in his life boat, happily sucking on his lollipop. And Zoe sailed off into the sunshine.

That night, Zoe slept the whole night in her own bed, and in the morning she woke up and stretched and smiled. It was much more pleasant to wake up this way.

That day, Zoe had gymnastics. She swung from a bar and walked across a balance beam and flipped over a barrel. She had so much fun at gymnastics that she was extra tired that night.

“Goodnight, my love,” said Mom as she tucked Zoe into bed. “And remember, all you have to do is say, I wish for something, and you will defeat the monster!”

“OK, Mom,” said Zoe, smiling. And she was so tired that she skipped that last goodnight hug and went right to sleep.

That night, Zoe dreamed she was in a forest. There were brown tree trunks that led up to tall green tree-tops. The dirt beneath her feet was black and damp. The yellow sun shone through the leaves and spotted the mossy ground. Zoe smiled and turned her face up to the sun.

But then the monster appeared. And he was big, with shaggy, purple fur, and long, pointy teeth and big, green eyes and giant, sharp claws.    

When she saw him, Zoe grew scared, but she remembered what Mom said, and she stood up straighter and clenched her hands into brave little fists and said, “I wish for my gymnastic stuff!” because she thought it could help her escape. And suddenly, there was the balance beam, and the bars, and the barrel.  

Zoe jumped onto the balance beam and ran across. The monster followed, his big claws outstretched.  Then she flipped over the barrel. The monster followed, but fell to the ground when he tried to flip. Then Zoe jumped up to swing from the bar, and the monster followed again.

The monster started to swing. He swung and he swung, shouting, “Wheeeeeeeee!” the whole time. Zoe dropped down from the bar, but the monster stayed behind. And Zoe smiled up at the monster and watched him swing, and then walked off, deeper into the woods, to find a chipmunk with whom she wanted to speak.

That night, Zoe slept the whole night in her own bed, and in the morning she woke up and stretched and smiled. It was so much more pleasant to wake up this way.

That day, Zoe went horseback riding with her grandmother. They rode and rode through fields and by a lake and had a wonderful day together.

That night, Zoe was even more tired, and when Mom tucked her into bed she said, “Mom, I’m not afraid of the monster anymore.”

“That’s wonderful news, Zoe,” said Mom, and kissed Zoe’s little cheek and gave her that one last hug, without even waiting to be asked.

That night, Zoe dreamed she was riding a horse, who ran with hundreds of other horses on the shore of a lake. The sky was blue and the clouds were pink like cotton candy, and it smelled like funnel cake because there was a fair nearby. Zoe asked her horse to run even faster, and together they smiled and turned their faces up to the sun.

Then the monster appeared, and this time Zoe smiled even bigger. “Hi, Monster!” she said. “Do you want to take a ride with us?”

And to Zoe’s surprise, the monster nodded. She slowed her horse to a stop, and another horse stopped for the monster, who climbed onto its back. Zoe noticed the monster’s teeth didn’t look as pointy as she remembered, and his claws didn’t look as long. 

As they started to ride away, the monster said, “I’m happy I can finally play with you, Zoe! That’s all I ever wanted in the first place.”

And from that night on, Zoe slept in her own bed every night, and never again awoke in a heap on the floor with Mom and Dad. And every morning she’d wake up, smile, and think, “I’m so glad I have my monster-friend to share my dreams. It really is so much nicer this way.”

The end.

3 comments:

w_layne_h said...

lovely! totally dig this story. if it could only come true! :)

Leah said...

Aw, thanks, Layne-O!

Tara said...

This is great! Would love to be able to write a book for my daughter.. what talent!

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