One for the list….

Yesterday’s family trip to get a morning cup of hot chocolate turned out to be one for the list.

What list, you ask? The list, the list that I fear, in the back on my mind, my children are compiling for future reference. The list they’ll pull out as teenagers when they’re looking for a mark against me in the parenting department, the one they’ll pull out when they have children of their own and we’re sitting around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and they want to one-up some parenting deficit of their own. “Oh, yeah? You think that’s bad?” They’ll say when my future grandchildren complain about about some real or imagined parenting unfairness. “When I was your age…”

And then they’ll check the list. They’ll scroll down the line of parenting foul-ups and snafus and find a suitable one, and reference it. The times I yelled over messes made or schoolwork forgotten. The time I thought Eldest was just trying to get out of going somewhere and didn’t believe he felt sick, and then he threw up all over the back seat of the car. And on, and on.

But I digress. Yesterday’s hot chocolate fiasco…

Hubby and I took the kids to a coffee shop which is owned by one of Hubby’s friends. It’s a funky little place, very artsy in a concrete-and-exposed-rafters kind of way. He’s been open for several years now and has made a mark in the community as a supporter of local artists, the shop doubles as an art gallery. Wherein lay the problem. We walked in the door and were immediately confronted with a brilliant and highly realistic display by an artist who goes by the name Elmer Presslee, whose work includes sculptures that are best described as Hieronymus Bosch meets the Telletubbies…with maybe a little Edward Gorey thrown in to round it out.

The first thing we saw was a giant winged monster, with a de-fleshed head and protruding eyeballs. Its fuzzy moth-body sprouted black wings and six legs which were, on closer inspection, highly realistic human fingers. Happy earthworms popped in and out of the leering skull in a whimsical way.

Now to put perspective on this I should really mention something about Youngest Child. This little person has an imagination on her that just doesn’t quit. She has the most vivid and active imaginary friends I’ve ever heard of, and can spin endless amazing yarns involving imaginary creatures of all makes and models. The downside to all this is that she also has the most terrifying and unusual nightmares imaginable. Everyone in our family knows that you do not even say the word “Zombie” after three o-clock in the afternoon, or we can expect a terrified six-year-old to be in our bed by midnight describing dreams that will prevent me from getting back to sleep.

What we should have done was turn around and walk out, but neither of us had had our coffee yet and besides, we’d driven all that way and the older two were eager for some hot chocolate. In fact, Eldest was fascinated with the sculptures and wanted to wander around taking mental notes. Do people make money doing this sort of thing? Do you need a licence or anything? When we get home could he please use some bondo, some paint, and a chop saw?


I tried to find a place where we could sit without staring right at any of the sculptures, but there really wasn’t one. I settled on a couch flanked by two chairs and suggested to Youngest that she sit on one of the chairs with her back to the winged monster, but she felt even less comfortable if she couldn’t keep an eye on it…just in case. Instead, I sat on the edge of the couch and she hid behind me, peeking out every few minutes to make sure it hadn’t moved. We sat that way while Hubby chatted with his friend, and the whole time I mentally calculated the length of exposure to scary monsters and how the increase in time was inversely proportional to the number of hours of sleep we’d be getting in the next week.

We made it out OK. Youngest has forgiven us, although she did ask politely if we would please never, ever take her to get hot chocolate in a building full of monsters. Ever. Again. I feel pretty comfortable that I can safely promise her that it won’t happen again.

Next time, we’ll call first. Oh–and yes, it is possible to drink hot chocolate while your mother is covering your eyes. Just in case you wondered.

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9 thoughts on “One for the list….

  1. When I opened your post, I uttered OH MY GOSH!!! My boys would have loved this when they were little!! And, yes I would have paid the price when the boogie art entered their dreams.

  2. Poor baby! I would have had a hard time keeping the cocoa down! Maybe some things should not be allowed to be called art. The coffee shop should have a warning label on the door!

  3. This tickled my funny bone to no end- it’s just one of those ‘minefield’ things as parents- my boys would have loved every minute, and my daughter would have been terrified…I’m not sure that I would have done any differently myself- especially pre-coffee! 😀 Poor Youngest.

  4. Anyone who grew up in the Minneapolis area in the 60s might remember the Jolly Troll smorgasbord restaurant. The troll provoked more than a few nightmares for me. But these monsters are the kind from which you just can’t look away! Great story. I’m with your daughter but loved the art too!

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