This morning, I defended my daughter from a monster under the bed. I failed miserably. My daughter came into the living room and said “There was a monster underneath her bed”. It was an especially scary monster. I walked into the bedroom and said, “You need to get out of here monster, or I’m going to beat you up.” I shined a light under the bed and saw nothing. The monster was gone and my daughter went back to sleep.
As I walked to work (in 14 degree weather because I’m working on endurance) I thought about this monster and how I handled the situation. What is really going on when I come into the room to take care of the monster under the bed? The monster under the bed is my daughter’s fear, not mine. My daughter is afraid of the monster, which is all that is really there, fear of the monster. As I heard about it, I immediately reacted and played along with the situation. She described the monster to me. I immediately sprang into daddy mode, going in to be a bigger and scarier monster than the one my daughter had experienced. My goal was to scare the monster away, but in my mind, because I played along, I was half expecting to see the monster. I momentarily looked under the bed, thinking that it was going to be a cat or something underneath and all I saw was a Marty McFly POP Vinyl, A Ziploc Bag and some abandoned toys. I told my daughter that the monster was gone and that he wouldn’t bother her anymore. Then I told her that she could go back to sleep and that Daddy loved her very much.
I believe the point where I failed was in how I handled the monster. I tried to overpower the monster to assert my dominance over the monster. The monster was there for a reason. He had decided to visit my daughter for some reason, which is usually to scare her. But I could have talked to the monster. Reasoned with the monster. Befriended the monster to get him on our side. Tried to understand why the monster had come to my daughter’s bedroom to scare her. All of these are coping mechanisms by which my daughter learns to deal with conflict. As someone who finds myself in conflict, I have a lot to learn about how I deal with it. I have a lot to learn about this, but I’m very thankful for this moment to realize that there are other ways to deal with fear. I’m also thankful that I have a daughter. She grows up every day, and every day I am reminded that who I am and my actions that I take around her are far more important than what I tell her to do.