THE ART OF DEALING WITH SELF-ISOLATED LITTLE MONSTERS

I find it pretty awful when people try to reassure me that I’m a good parent right now. Instead of revelling in the words of praise, I recoil as I recall all the recent times I’ve nearly exploded, pushed by a child to the edge of quarantined sanity. Go ahead and #sourdough your way through this nightmare, but we all know that this relentless life of homeschooling and constant enforced togetherness is often altogether really quite monstrous.

That’s why, right now, the currency I appreciate more than any other is creative childcare offered remotely: the uncle who teaches my son the history of video-gaming; the manny who can’t come to the house but who dials in to host the odd class; the niece who draws up an impromptu quiz; the teacher who send slides that make it easy for me to start a lesson, then walk away and get back to work. I’m currently intoxicated by anyone who can help me tame the beast within.

I was delighted, then, when, earlier this week, my best friend introduced to me to an artist he knew who was putting his talents to use to raise money for NHS charities. The words on his fundraising page spoke to me immediately.

Your little monsters are at home and no doubt being little devils. So, I thought I’d do a little something to alleviate some of the stress of keeping them entertained and to help their imaginations run wild.’

His page goes to explain how you can to request a monster straight from your children’s imagination, simply detailing its name, what it looks like, where it lives and what it likes doing. Daniel Walsh then turns these words into the most beautiful hand-painted beasts.

Yesterday, I began the homeschool day with what I promised would be a special project. While I dialled in to my 4,618th lockdown video-conference call, my son set about detailing a monster from the darkest depths of his psyche.

“Tomorrow,” I promised, “an artist will paint your mind and bring this to life your creative creature.”

‘Draku,’ Jackson wrote, ‘has the body of a panther and his head is like fire. He lives in a treehouse in the jungle by a swamp. He loves football so much that he eats footballs all day. He’s obsessed with gaming, too. So much so, in fact, that his tail is a USB wire with a PS4 controller at the end (that way he’ll never lose it). He’s quite good-tempered but he has a nemesis called Cutr’doe. This monster has a falcon head and unicorn body with wings. He has two falcon feet and two unicorn hooves.’

“That is lit!” he said earlier today when this imagination’s hand-painted creation dropped into my inbox. Praise indeed from my hard-to-impress tween.

This project made me think a lot about how our children are dealing with their own demons during these scariest of times. Something more frightening than a monster has crept into their worlds and made it impossible for us to shield them from the fact that their daily lives turned upside down. All we can really do now is keep them close, keep them safe and do our best to fuel their imaginations in between either risking our lives on the frontline or spending every working hour online.

To request a monster and raise money for NHS charities, head to Daniel Walsh’s fundraising page here.

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