Illustration by Wilbur Liang

The girl and the monster on the roof

The bunny cracked its head on the floor.

“Nice one Floppy!” The girl complimented. “I’ll give that splat a 9 out of 10.”

“Now where is the blue magnet?” The girl searched. “I can’t destroy it properly without it.”

The girl inspected every inch of the living room rug until she found her very last blue magnet. With trained precision, she climbed up her father’s ladder and placed the glistening blue magnet at the top of her towering creation.

“Ta-da.” the girl beamed proudly. “What do you think Floppy? My tallest skyscraper yet.”

The building was an amalgamation of magnets, legos, and blocks, an imposing figure, teetering at the edge of a monumental collapse.

“Oh my god.” Papi gasped as he entered the living room. “That thing is going to take forever to clean up.”

The girl balanced at the top of the ladder and placed her trusted companion Floppy the bunny at the very peak of the skyscraper.

“3, 2, 1, jump Floppy!” She shouted.

Floppy leapt and landed on the rug with a soft bounce. The construction and high-flying stunts were a nightly ritual in the family household.

“Chunky, it’s bedtime!” Papi announced.

“Excellent.” She thought.

Because as much as she loved building, she loved destroying even more.

She strapped Floppy to her tool belt, put on the hard hat, and began to smash.

Boom!!! The tower crashed down, spilling underneath the dining room table.

Bang!!! The castle was stomped to pieces, scattering all the way to the kitchen.

Clang!!! Parts ricocheted off the walls, settling at Papi’s feet.

Nothing was left standing. The girl smirked, satisfied with the destruction that laid before her.

“Wow, that’s quite a demolition you have there.” Proclaimed Papi. “How about we clean up together tonight, as a team?”

“No! I don’t want to.” Complained the girl.

“Chunks, if we don’t clean up, 手 (Te) will come. You know what happens when he comes, remember?” Papi counseled.

“I don’t care. You clean it up! You always do.” The girl demanded.

“Yes, I do. But not tonight.” Papi stood his ground. “I’m sorry, but we either clean up as a family, or we suffer the consequences.”

The girl was stunned. Papi always cleaned up after her. But she stayed defiant, and marched straight to her room for bedtime, while her magnets, legos, and even Floppy laid sprawled on the floor.

tcka tcka tcka

tcka tkca tcka…creak…

The footsteps on the roof paused for a brief moment to check for any movement.

Nothing, the coast was clear.

Eight eyes peered through the window, surveying the landscape of the living room. “At last” he thought in wild excitement. For months he was unable to obtain any of the girl’s belongings. That wretched father always cleaned up after her.

But not tonight. Tonight, he collects.

“What is this?” his eyes widened as big as billiard balls. “The bunny. Oh yes, it will all be a part of my collection.”

He tugged the window open with his two front legs. He squeezed his legs tight into his cephalothorax to fit through the opening.

Plop. The enormous body hit the living room floor.

He stretched out his eight hairy legs, writhing with glee. He stood tall, nearly brushing the ceiling at his full height. His sharp, yellow teeth salivated at the bounty that laid before him.

Without taking any unnecessary steps and with smooth precision, he snatched the items into his monstrous sack.

Legos.

Magnets.

Floppy.

As he squeezed back out the window, he turned to look down the hallway and whispered, “Good night little girl. Thanks for the bounty.”

A full bowl of cereal rested in front of the girl, but she wasn’t hungry.

“Please Papi.” The girl pleaded. “Please bring Floppy back.”

“I’m sorry my chunks, but 手 (Te) has him now.” Papi responded. “There’s nothing we can do… unless…”

“Unless what?” The girl despaired.

“Unless we show 手 (Te) that we’ll never again leave our toys on the floor.” Papi advised. “If he realizes that our family cleans up together, then he’ll give up on waiting for more things to take.”

“And then he’ll give us back Floppy?” Hoped the girl.

“And then he’ll move on to another family.” Papi explained. “When he moves on to another family, he’ll return all that was taken.”

“Chunky, it’s bedtime!” Papi announced.

The girl put down her book and dove into action. Colors were placed orderly back into its boxes; play-doh was squeezed back into its tubes.

The living room was spotless — a sore sight for eight eyes.

“Papi, when will Floppy come back?” The girl asked.

“In time my chunks. In time.” Papi consoled. “Because now we’re the family that cleans up together.”

Our mission is to equip parents with stories that help them live in harmony with their children.

Many parents use rewards or punishment to get their kids to clean up after themselves; instead, try using 手 (Te) as a rallying call to unite and clean up together as a family.

Story by Jun Loayza. Art by Wilbur Liang.

Host of the Dad Smarter Not Harder podcast. Listen to learn about the Minimum Effective Does (MED) for raising children https://dadsmarter.simplecast.com