Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pond Monsters...Sometimes Scaring Your Children is a Good Thing.

I don't quite remember where or when I first saw the 1954 horror classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon. For some reason I think it may have been with either of two friends in high school, Chena or Shelena. Okay, now that just made it sound like I only had two friends in school. Never fear. I had at least four, for sure. Anyway, Chena and I were always renting and watching scary movies, but I can also remember going to Shelena's and watching them on a few occasions, one of which lasted a couple days in a row due to a snowstorm that hit. Speaking of renting movies, I remember early on when you had to rent the actual VCR on which to watch them! If you wanted to spend a flick-filled weekend you made sure to be one of the first customers in line on Friday afternoons, otherwise you were just out of luck.

Sorry, I digress. As I was saying, I don't remember the exact time I first saw it but I do vaguely remember being somewhat unimpressed with its fear factor. Chainsaw-wielding, inbred Texan? Scary! Lizard with the hots for a girl? Not so scary! But that was just my opinion. At least, I think it was.

Flash forward about 23 years...John, the kids, and I are preparing to move into our newly built home on the back of his family's farm, and we are all thrilled! We would not be so cramped anymore and we would have a large yard with no immediate neighbors and the kids would be able to play and roam. Everything about moving to a new place brought smiles to our faces, except one...the pond.

Located a mere two hundred feet or so from the right side of our house (as you are facing it), and at the bottom of the slight hill on which our house sets, is a pond. It's been there for years, even long before I married into the family in 1988. And until I knew that I would be living within a few feet of it with a two-year-old son who loved to run and play and climb and jump and showed no fear of anything, I had never given it a passing thought. Causing even more restless nights was the fact that our house would have nine doors opening directly to the outside, so if I was in the front of the house, he could just escape through any number of doors at the back of the house. Even being secured with umpteen sensors brought little peace of mind. Have I mentioned my son the Carl Lewis of toddlers?

We decided the only thing to do was to make it a place he did not want to be, at least alone. Enter pond monsters (and when you say "pond monsters" you must say it with a dreadful tone). We made our son believe there were monsters living beneath the murky waters of the pond and that they only came out when no adults were around. Thankfully, it worked. Of course, we were helped out a lot by two things.

First, was the picture you see at the top of the page. It is one of the framed 8x10 movies scenes we have in our media room. As we were hanging it John-Heath wanted to know what it was and we told him. It didn't take him long to make the obvious leap to our pond and what kind of creatures were in it.

Shortly thereafter, on one of the first evenings of living in the house, we were sitting on the back porch enjoying everything that comes with residing in the county...peace, quiet, fresh air. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a bull frog, a large one by the way it sounded. John-Heath's head perked up and turned in the direction of the pond. With eyes as big as saucers he softly said, "pond monsters." Not only did those monsters have a face, they now had a voice. It would be a long time before he would sit with us on the back porch again.

As a very grown up six-year-old he's pretty sure we were just kidding about those monsters. I know there are probably people out there who would think what we did bordered on some form of child abuse. However, given the choice of a son who was mildly fearful as a child versus a drowned child who fearlessly marched right off a bank into the water, I'll take a little monster-motivated apprehension any day of the week and twice on Sundays!

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