Rissie stomped onto the back deck late last week and told me that there was a monster in the hen house. I looked at her slightly disbelievingly, while she nodded her head adamantly and told me, “It’s true Momma, I saw it.” Then with her next breath, she elaborated, “So I can’t pick up the chicken poo this morning. I am not going back in there.” My Momma radar was now on high alert. Was it because of the monster in my hen house or because I had an inkling that Rissie was trying to get out of one of her morning jobs? Every morning when we get back from our walk the kids have a few jobs to do. They must feed Rocky the rooster and Regina and Dark Fairy the hens. They also need to pick up the chicken poop and pop it into a big old bag that we bin once a month. Their other morning job is to clean out George and Checkers (the Guinea pigs) hutch and to chop up some fresh food and give them some feed and water as well.
Every morning, the virtues of the jobs associated with the Chickens and the Guinea pigs were hotly contested and both Archie and Rissie much preferred dealing with George and Checkers than they did with Rocky, Regina and Dark Fairy. Rissie had obviously drawn the short straw and was dealing with the hen house and not liking it one bit. A monster in my hen house? I told her that she still had to pick up the chicken poop and she vigorously shook her head and appeared to be working herself up into a state of hysteria. I knew I was going to have to go out there to have a look. For fuck’s sake, it was not like I liked monsters. I vaguely bemoaned the fact that I was single. I am handy and have coped with most things well in my little cottage, but a little bit of brute strength would not have hurt when dealing with a hen house monster. I also thought of that moment in every scary movie I have ever seen when the female star hears a noise and leaves the house to check it out and the audience members are screaming in their heads, “Don’t go outside!” I am sure the audience members in my head were screaming in their heads, “Don’t go into the hen house Lara, just don’t do it.”
I double checked with Rissie that there was really a monster in the hen house and she answered in the affirmative. She also added in good measure, that she had seen it move. Oh goody. I pulled on my old gum boots and grabbed a plastic rake. I am sure that my $18.00 el cheapo plastic rake was going to hold me in good stead when I valiantly faced the demon in my hen house. I was going to grab my super doper cake knife but told myself to fucking snap out of it. I was going to check out the hen house, not apply to be an entrant on My Kitchen Rules. I had visions in my head of striding down the back yard looking cool in my camouflage pants, boots and black slinky singlet, while Carol and Daryl from The Walking Dead trailed behind me in awe. For some reason in my head I was also carrying a rather deadly looking cross bow. Instead I was in my gum boots and my old black walking leggings that were probably coming up to their use by date. Maybe I would scare the monster away?
Rissie and I bravely approached the hen house, I stood tall, my hair billowed in the breeze, the rake was in my right hand and I was ready to use it. As Rissie tremored in fright, I swung open the door of the hen house and looked in the corner where the monster resided. I was ready to scream or do a Braveheart bellow as I rushed towards it. But I found myself looking at a lump of hay instead. I beckoned Rissie in and told her that it was just a lump of hay and she still needed to pick up the chicken poop. She asked me to stay there with her guarding her from possible monster attack. I was going to get cross at her, as my mornings are always busy and my list for the day starts as soon as we return from our walk. I also had a sneaking impression that she had made the monster up as an excuse to get out of chicken poop duty. But what if she hadn’t?
What if she really thought she had seen a monster, even if it was only in her mind’s eye. We all have a million monsters. I know I can work myself up into a state during the witching hours. I once relentlessly checked the perimeter of my cottage, after watching ‘I am Legend’. I was checking to ensure that my house was secure in the event of zombie invasion. I obviously did not have to shake my head while looking at Rissie and say in mature exasperation, “I have no idea where she gets it from.” I knew full well where she gets it from. She gets it from me. An over active imagination, a tendency to hysteria, an inclination to worry about what has not happened and is not likely to happen.
Sometimes I wondered if that was my job, to teach her how to deal with those traits that could possibly drive her a little crazy. But sometimes as a mum you don’t need to do anything. Just standing there in your gum boots with a plastic rake and a tough guy look on your face is all that is needed to keep the monsters at bay.
Rissie did not need to know that every time I entered the hen house now, I would be playing scenes from Walking Dead in my head until I peeked inside and was relieved to see that the monster had gone away. I was reminded of one of my favourite poems from childhood that Tiney and I had loved, “Late last night, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there, he wasn’t there again today, I wish that man would go away.” Same with the monster in the hen house. Go away monster. Go away.