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Mychal Wilmes: We all need a night light at times

The Tonka bulldozer crashes into the house, and the dwelling falls to pieces on the carpeted floor. The dozer driver laughs as only a child can when something so amazingly wonderful happens.

Elliot isn't a hugger, so we share high-fives and embark on an immediate reconstruction.

Grandpa, as uptight as he is and aware of the time spent building what certainly was the grandest Lego home ever, tells Elliot that he must play nice. Sometimes it's best that Grandpa is heard but not listened to.

The bulldozer strikes again. Given the seriousness of the situation, Grandpa engages Elliot in adult conversation.

"You are a regular Kim Jong-un in Pull-Ups.''


The insult is way above Elliot's understanding. Jong-un and his ilk are mercifully absent in a world where day care and "Sponge Bob Square Pants" are what's important. When idiots like Jong-un enter a child's world, things aren't what they should be.

You might recall what it was like being in grade school in 1962 when the Soviet Union and the United States went to the brink of war over Cuba and Fidel Castro's determination to have nuclear weapons on the island. The Soviet's missiles, we were told, could reach Minnesota and beyond.

We practiced hiding beneath our desks at school, watched the news and feared that tomorrow or the next day would be our last.

Fear — be it caused by possible nuclear destruction or from a gunman — is crippling.

Elliot sometimes thinks a monster is beneath his bed or hiding in the basement. A night light keeps the monster away better than assurances that the monsters he fears don't exist. Grandpa full-well knows there are sometimes monsters under his own bed. Mind monsters — be they financial or health-wise — can pop up at unexpected times.

Today, we are in Sponge Bob's world, where friends clash, reconcile and learn life lessons.

I'm not a huge Sponge Bob fan, but the show grows on you. Elliot's mother and her siblings watched "The Lion King'' so often that I could repeat every line and song from memory.

My hope is Elliot might soon discover that Sponge Bob can't hold a candle to the Curious George and Dr. Seuss books that at present are collecting dust.


The Legos are mostly safely in containers, and those that aren't will soon be stepped on. Elliot has been taken by his grandmother for a diaper change and hand-washing to be ready for supper.

Elliot refuses to eat unless the meat and potatoes are covered in ketchup — a condiment that has saved many children from near starvation.

Elliot has gone home and the nightly news is coming on.

I've stopped watching national news because it's too darn depressing. The TV news has too many Jong-uns, angry politicians and doom-and-gloom. I cannot avoid the news on this night.

The announcer says that an aging Fidel Castro has warned Jong-un that he must avoid nuclear war at all cost because millions will die if it comes. Castro as a peacemaker seems a late April Fool's joke given his horrible human rights record.

I retreat into history, which is much easier to handle even though it is bloody.

The 1970s-produced encyclopedia covers the Korean Conflict. Those who were drafted and served certainly don't need a reference book to recall the horrors of Frozen Chosen, the thousands of Chinese troops who seemed to appear out of nowhere, and General Douglas MacArthur's desire to attack China. President Harry Thurman sacked him instead and the war ended in stalemate.

Hopefully, Elliot will know nothing of real monsters for a long time.


His grandpa knows them. Some are of his own making, while others are real menaces that must be dealt with.

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