"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
July 9, 2012
Sometimes the Monsters are Real
by Kathryn H. Kidd

One of the clichés of childhood is the monster under the bed. Most kids have night terrors at some point. Many parents have to check the closet and under the bed every night to assure children there are no monsters lurking there.

Although I never had to check the closets for monsters (my closet was such a mess that no monsters would fit in it), I had night terrors of my own. They came from horror movies. My parents would go on a date every Saturday night, and we had the same babysitter every Saturday night until we moved away when I was eleven. During all those years, Mrs. Harvey would put Sandee and Susie to bed, and she and I would watch horror movies on television together until I fell asleep.

I pretended that the horror movies didn't scare me, but I wasn't fooling anybody. For years I had recurring nightmares of owls hanging their eyes on trees. Whenever anyone stood under the trees, ghouls would gobble them up. Invariably the dreams would end with the realization that it was time for me to stand under one of those trees.

Eventually the nightmares stopped. We moved from New Orleans to a little town called Mandeville. We left the monsters of New Orleans -- the ubiquitous Mafia presence, the toxic canal, and the poor schools -- in exchange for a different set of monsters.

In Mandeville I should have been scared of monsters, but I wasn't. My sisters and I used to go to the turtle bridge and watch huge alligators lazing in the swamp. When I used to explore by myself I would go wading in the swamp. It didn't occur to me until decades later that the swamp where I used to wade was the same body of water that was spanned by the turtle bridge, and that the places where I waded were populated by the same alligators that we used to watch when we went to the bridge.

I doubtless had a whole army of guardian angels when I was a child. They had to work overtime keeping me alive, because I didn't have the brain of a gnat.

Snakes were common visitors to our home. We had to look inside the washer and the dryer before we stuck our hands in, because rattlesnakes and copperheads liked to lurk in them or underneath them. They were attracted by the warmth. The Girl Scout camp that was near our home had two lifeguards -- one to make sure nobody was drowning, and the other to look for water moccasins. More than once I lifted my head from the water when I was doing laps in the lake to see a water moccasin keeping pace with me.

My most memorable encounter with a monster happened during the summer of my thirteenth year. One night I was innocently asleep when a monster tried to crawl in through the open bedroom window. There was a screen on the window, and the creature made a lot of noise as it pulled on the mesh.

I ran into my parents' bedroom, yelling about the monster. My parents no doubt thought I was crazy. Either they convinced me that I had been awakened by a "big dog," or I told myself that. Eventually I was able to go back to sleep.

The following morning my parents were surprised to find the screen from my window lying on the ground outside. Sweet vindication! When he went out to buy the morning paper, my father heard that someone had shot a black bear fairly near our house during the night. I never saw a picture of that bear, but thanks to the miracle of Facebook my sister Sandee discovered it and sent it to me. Here it is.

The "big dog" that ripped the screen from my open bedroom window.

Now I am an old person. The monsters today don't hang their eyes on trees, they don't lurk in the swamps and in the lakes and in our washing machine, and they don't pull down my window screens. My monsters take the form of unpaid bills, of mistakes I have made, of feelings I have hurt, and of opportunities I have missed.

I try to ignore the monsters. I try to learn lessons from the monsters that have lessons to teach, and I try not to feed the remaining monsters with my fears. Most of the time I am successful.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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