The key to a successful (read: quick) bedtime around here is Monster Spray. Today, I’m sharing it’s storied history.
When I was but a wee lad, there lived monsters in my bedroom closet. Beasts only the imagination could conjure into existence, creatures that prevented sleep when it was needed most. To remedy the situation my parents concocted a magical brew designed specifically to remove the threat of closet and under-the-bed monsters. It was a potent potion that worked every time.
It was relabeled Lysol.
The ritual apparently was that whenever I was scared they would grab the Monster Spray, head to the room, squeeze the trigger a few times and give the all-clear. I was out like a light within a few minutes.
I don’t remember Monster Spray. When they first told me the story I thought it was ridiculous and laughed it off. Years later, I am now faced nightly with the combination of an imaginative child and the dreaded bed-time.
I am not sure where the firstborn learned of the concept of “monsters in the closet”. It has likely come up plenty of times with my noticing, but it seems like it came out of the blue. My own monster issues likely stemmed from repeated viewings of House or Little Monsters . The firstborn dismissed Monsters, Inc. rather quickly into the initial viewing of that movie. That’s the only film I can think of that concerns monsters directly interacting with children.
Of course, much like a toddler asking for a bandaid for a wound that does not exist, he could have just put the idea of monsters and bed-time together as a clever ruse to get something shiny. In this case the shiny object being not sleeping.
When he first started running out of his room a half hour or so after going to sleep claiming that a monster was in his room, I was not sure how to react. Do we play into the delusion? Is it better to lie to the child and encourage the imaginative play or should the concept of monsters in the dark be eliminated early? I started with getting rid of the concept.
“There are no monsters, buddy,” I would say taking him back into his bedroom. He would give a slight nod of his head and fall back to sleep.
The next night he would do the same thing. Then the next night and the night after that.
Eventually I caved and said, “Let’s go stop some monsters, big guy.”
And with that line his world of monsters was made a little more real. There was only one way to ensure monsters did not come into his room at night; Monster Spray.
Lysol makes me sneeze now, so there’s none in the house. What was handy was a half broken and thankfully empty spray bottle. The bottle was grabbed, the room occupied and the spray spritzed.
“Now monsters will smell the spray and know not to come here,” the firstborn was told. And then he went to bed. There exists between child and parent an implicit trust so deep that squeezing the broken trigger of an empty spray bottle and saying monsters hate the smell of the non-existent vapor is all the child needs to hear to get a sound nights rest.
The next night we used the monster spray before going to bed and he stayed down. There were no rushing footsteps fleeing the room half an hour after lights out, no murmurs coming from the darkened room; just a snoring little boy content that mom and dad had fixed his monster problem.
The bottle sits in his room, atop an overfilled bookcase, always within reach should he feel the monsters “can’t smell the spray” enough. We’ll walk around the room, squeezing the trigger three or four times with every step -and we have to spray just outside the door too, monsters could be walking by- and then set it back on the bookcase.
Monster Spray helps keep the imagination play going and helps the kid go to bed in a reasonable amount of time. I have to admit, my parents had a pretty genius idea on their hands with this one.