Tony Woodlief | Author

Tickle Monster

The boys decided some time ago that I make a good monster. At night they tell me to hide in their closet and then they scurry off to my bedroom, giggling wildly. After a few seconds of conferring, they come sneaking down the hallway to look for me. This always seems to hold a lot of suspense for them, even though I am usually pretty much where they left me. Sometimes I ambush them from another room, but most of the time I just curl up on the closet floor and wait.

As they come closer I begin to growl, which sets off waves of giggles. Sometimes they keep their courage and come all the way to the closet door, at which point I’ll grab one of them with a roar and commence tickling. Most of the time one will bolt, which causes the other to bolt, their little heels pounding into the floor as they race back down the hallway.

Some nights when their courage isn’t so great I can get a little nap that way. Don’t judge.

I’ve noticed that Caleb inevitably appoints Eli to the recon position. I guess it’s the older brother’s prerogative. I’ve started to get on to him a little, because the other phenomenon I’ve observed is that when I get hold of Eli, Caleb usually just squeals and runs away, abandoning his little brother to his fate. When I grab Caleb and begin to tickle him, though, Eli tackles me.

This usually just means that he jumps on my back and rolls off onto the floor, but it’s brave nonetheless. I’m encouraging Caleb to defend his brother the same way.

A while back my wife bought them each a little rubber sword and shield — part of her effort to make knights out of her little boys. One night I was playing the Tickle Monster, chasing them around the house, when they disappeared into their bedroom. As I approached they came charging around the corner, yelling a battle cry, swords in hand.

My first reaction was pure pride at having raised little warriors. My second reaction was that those little rubber swords really hurt when you get whacked with them. My wife, accustomed to seeing the boys scamper through the kitchen with me on their tails, thought it was entertaining to see the scene played out in reverse.

Caleb has taken up a bit of the monster responsibilities, occasionally chasing Eli around. The other night after he brushed his teeth, Caleb stood in front of the bathroom mirror and practiced his monster face. From the bedroom this is what I heard:

“Rrrrrrr. RRRRRRR! GGRRRRR!!! Ooh! I scared myself!”

I made up a story for them, about a Tickle Monster who loses his tickle. Two little boys named Caleb and Eli help him find it again. They’ll probably never know how close to the truth that story really is.

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