Closet Monkey

Laugh Again


Last updated 4/5/2019 at 3:29pm

One summer night during a thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed. He asked in a trembling voice, "Will you stay with me all night?"

She gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said, "I can't, dear. I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

Silence followed. At last the little guy said, "The big baby!"

Fear. Do you have some?

We just spent the weekend with five grandbabies all under the age of four. You spend a weekend with this many small kids and you think, It's a very good thing God didn't allow us to have babies of our own at our age. We might forget where we placed them.

And by Monday morning I couldn't bend over to touch my toes. If you see older people wearing flip flops, chances are they have grandchildren who keep hollering, "Throw me. Higher. Higher."

Be nice to these people. They can't tie their own shoes. They're on painkillers.

The truth is, we love these grandkids. Claira calls me Bubba. She is two, and we have to keep track of her. Claira likes to shake the stuffing out of things to see how they work. Dismantling things is one of her gifts. She may be a mechanic one day if she learns how to find the parts and assemble them.

She does all this flinging blonde curls and grinning past three teeth. The girl seems fearless too. But as we ate breakfast in a restaurant, I noticed her leaning, looking past me. I turned to look for myself. A large dark closet was staring at us.

Claira is hard to understand when her soother is inserted firmly between her teeth. She said, "Mooheee."

I removed the soother. She repeated, "Monkey."

Her uncle Steve began making monkey sounds. Claira's eyes grew wide. She kept them on the closet. "Monkey," she said. She couldn't eat. She forgot about her soother.

I picked her up and walked toward the closet. She wriggled and fought me all the way. The boy in me wanted to say, "There are no monkeys. The alligator ate them all." The grandpa in me said, "Monkeys are fun."

I knelt down on the floor beside her and pretended to be meeting the monkey. I said, "His name is "Ee Ee. He's a nice monkey." She smiled. She laughed. We waved goodbye to Ee Ee and enjoyed our breakfast.

About 11 a.m. I put her down for a nap. I've never been comfortable with the term "put her down," but that's what I did, I suppose.

She reached up. "Nufamabbba." I had no idea what she was saying. She said it again. I removed the soother and she repeated herself. "Nuggamebubba." "Nuggamebubba?"

And then I got it. She likes to snuggle. "Snuggle me Bubba." And that's what I did with this precious child of God.

Fear. Do you have some?

This is what God says to you today. "I am with you. I will not leave this room. Nothing will get to you that didn't get past me. Fear not. I am with you. Be not dismayed. I am your God. Let go of that fear. You are my child. Snuggle in."

That night we somehow managed to return the children to their rightful owners, and we couldn't stop smiling. Each time after the grandchildren leave I have a warm feeling. I think it means the Extra Strength Tiger Balm is kicking in.

Phil Callaway speaks, writes books, and has a radio show called Laugh Again. Visit him at


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