I met a monster last week and he made me cringe a little.
Huggy Wuggy, a character in a video game with the deceptively charming name of Poppy Playtime, has sharp rows of teeth and a creepy habit of roaming an abandoned toy factory and exacting revenge on his enemies.
But, really, Huggy is just a skinny monster who needs some friends.
And, kids need monsters.
Many years ago, I stood in the checkout line with my oldest son, who was clutching the newest Goosebumps book.
“I can’t believe you let him read those things,” the nosy lady in front of us said.
“Oh, I’m actually grateful he loves them so much,” I said, smiling.
She harumphed and turned away, while I mused about how lucky I was to “let” rather than “make” my son read books.
Try as we might, we parents can’t protect our kids from everything, certainly not from the scary things they fret about in the deep, quiet corners of their brains. Luckily, we have always had monsters to help them flesh out those fears.
Before Huggy, there were Dementors and Mountain Trolls and long before that kids read about wolves who ate little girls and a witch who threw two cute little kids in her oven.
I am definitely not saying Huggy Wuggy is for everyone and that video game is not for little kids at all.
But, I am saying some of the monsters that make us cringe are actually necessary elements of a healthy childhood and, rather than shield our kids from them, we should appreciate the way they help little imaginations recognize and eventually come to terms with their fears.