Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Contention Monster

By Deborah Rowley

I wrote this story about 10 years ago in an effort to decrease the contention in our home when my kids were small. I am happy to report that contention is rarely an issue in our house now. Take heart, young mothers! Things do get better. Now I am excited to share the contention monster with my nursery kids. One thing that makes this story so fun is that it is interactive. You just don't sit and tell the story in one room. At different points in the story, the kids get to run and hunt for the monsters and angels that you have hidden ahead of time.

You will need three pictures of contention monsters and three pictures of angels:

Here is the story:

My name is Luke and my sister's name is Sarah. Most of the time we get along. We hardly fight at all, actually. That is because  of this one really unusual day. On this particular day, Sarah and I thought that our Mom had flipped. It all started like this. I was playing with my new K'nex system in my room and Sarah was playing Barbies in her room. Things were pretty peaceful. Then I maneuvered this machine into Sarah's room and it started to pick up Barbie stuff with those cool pinchers that I had built on the front. This made Sarah mad and she kicked over the machine. This made me mad and we started to fight. Suddenly Mom called form the kitchen, "Who let the contention monster into this house. Didn't I tell you he isn't invited?" We looked at each other. The contention monster? What was Mom talking about? There wasn't a monster in the house. Sarah lifted up the ruffle on her comforter and looked under the bed just in case. NO monster. And anyway, we didn't believe in them.

(Pause in the story to let the children find the contention monster in a kid's bedroom.)

I didn't think too much more about this monster until it was time for my favorite show. I  ran into the living room and dove for the bean bar chair-- the most comfortable spot in the house. The only problem was that Sarah was already there. This resulted in a little fight over the chair and our voices got a little bit louder and then someone pushed someone else and Mom entered the room. "I knew I heard that contention monster!" she said and she grabbed the bean bag chair and looked underneath it. "I wish I could find that horrible beast," murmured Mom as she walked out of the room. Sarah's eyes got really big and she stared at me, but I just lifted my arms and shrugged. Sarah did look under the couch before the show started but there was nothing there.

(Pause the story to let the children find the contention monster hidden in the living room.)

After the show, we went outside. There was this great mud pile in the corner of the garden where Dad hadn't planted anything and we built this neat castle for worms and ladybugs. When we came to the back door Mom took one look at us and sent us straight to the bathroom to wash up.
The only problem was that there was one sink in the bathroom and two kids. My elbows kind of blocked Sarah and she got mad and said that she needed to go first because she was a girl and before we knew it there was a fight and Mom appeared, "Alright," she said, holding big spoon above her head. "Come out this minute Contention Monster or I will come in after you. I mean it. You are not welcome in this home anymore." Then Mom banged her spoon on the side of the shower door and rattled some cupboards before she left.

(Pause to let the family find the contention monster in the bathroom.)

We were speechless. What was up with Mom: She had told us there was no such thing as monsters when we were little and now she said that a contention monster was in our house? Was she crazy? Maybe we should tell Dad about it. In  the meantime, I figured we had better take care of Mom and not do anything to upset her anymore. I told Sarah my idea and she agreed. So while Mom was on the phone in her bedroom, Sarah set the table and I wiped up the mud that we had tracked on the floor. Mom was so surprised when she came in and found the clean floor and table that she almost fainted. She staggered back against the counter and said, "I can't believe it. Are there some angels in my kitchen now?" I just looked at Sarah and smiled. Mom was being really weird this time. 

(Pause to let the kids find the angels in the kitchen.) 

Sarah followed me into the laundry room so I could put the dirty towel away that I had used on the floor. A clean basket of clothes was piled high in the center of the room. I looked at Sarah and she nodded. She was thinking the same thing. We both sat down and started to fold the clothes that Mom had washed earlier that day. Before too long, we heard Mom calling from the kitchen. "Are there angels in my laundry room? I can hear you in there. I don't know who let you in but you are welcome to stay." Sarah had to put her hand over her mouth to keep from giggling out loud. Monster and angels, Mom was really going nuts. 

(Pause in the story to let the children find the angels in the laundry room.)

Dad came home right after that and he was impressed when Mom told him about the angels who helped in the kitchen and in the laundry room. I decided we should wait to talk to Dad about Mom's behavior until we could get him alone. But after dinner, Dad helped Mom clean up and then he went into his room and start to watch a basketball game. I knew that wouldn't be a good time to bother him so we just gave him a hug and a kiss goodnight.
Mom came in right then and said" Did you hear some angels in here, honey?"" Dad shook his head, 'Hum, I was sure I heard some love coming from this room." "You did," Sarah said excitedly, as she jumped on Mom and hugged her. "It was coming from Luke and me."
"Thank you for the hug sweetie," Mom responded. 'I love you too. But where could those angels be?" She lifted up her pillow and looked underneath. Then she started searching in her closet. That is when Sarah and I snuck out and went to bed without being asked. We never did get to talk to Dad, but Mom started acting normal the next day. Sarah and I still try to help and not fight and stuff just in case Mom starts seeing Monsters and Angels again.

(Pause and let the children hunt for the last angels in Mom and Dad's bedroom)

I made this huge contention monster to hang on the wall after the story. I would open a bag of jumbo marshmallows and let the kids throw marshmallows at the contention monster to drive him out of our house.

I hope this story helps you banish the contention monster from your house too!

Black and White Monsters and Angels

Color Monsters and Angels

Story about the Contention Monster- A Hide and Seek Tale

Note: This story appears in my book Before They Turn Twelve. 

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