Thursday, January 6, 2011


“What are you doing?” I asked.

Zay stalked around the kitchen. He pushed himself against the side of the fridge and whispered. “Huntin’ monkeys.”

I noticed the pop gun at his side (Christmas gift from a friend). “What are you going to do with that?”

“Shoot the monkey.”

Oh. Years ago I would’ve launched into a lecture about how monkeys belong to God and it’s not our right to shoot them. But this time I decided to play along. We were talking about imaginary monkeys, after all. “I think I saw one. A big one. In the dining room.”

“No,” he said. “It’s in there.” He pointed to the school room.

“Well how do you know?”

“Because that’s where I put him.”

What? I thought it was time to investigate. I walked into the school room and Zay followed. On his belly. Combat crawl.

“Stop!” Zay yelled. “There he is!”


Isaiah jabbed a finger toward the coat tree. I didn’t see a monkey. Then I looked closer. Mr. Socks, the sock monkey Zay had been given for Christmas, was suspended from a hook. His wide, red smile poked out from parkas and faux fur.

“Zay,” I said. “That’s your sweet sock monkey. He’s meant to be loved and held and cared for and hugged. Not shot at.”

“Well I’m gonna get him.”

I was baffled. The boys all had sock monkeys. They were tattered and torn, one-eyed, tails attached and reattached a hundred times – all from good lovin’. Why would Zay, my Gentle Ben, be hunting his monkey down in cold stuffed primate blood?

I released Mr. Socks from the tree. Then I settled into the nearby loveseat and pulled my son to my lap. I was about to resurrect that lecture about honoring God’s creation when Zay surprised me again. He cradled Mr. Socks in his arms. Smothered that monkey head with a dozen kisses. Whispered sweet nothings in Socks’ stuffed ears.

Go figure.

There’s a lot I don’t get about boys. Maybe God hardwired them as hunters – to provide for and protect their families. Maybe it’s some God-given drive to conquer. I don’t know.

I’ll never have all the answers. The best I can do is love my boys – puzzling constitution and all.

Even when it involves a sock monkey safari.

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