I am fairly new to the parenting world because Maddie is only nine months old. While I may not be a parenting expert yet, I certainly am a million times more knowledgeable than I was just a few years ago. This is because for most of my life I was clueless when it came to kids. I had no small cousins, no nieces or nephews, heck, I didn’t even have a neighbor with kids, so the extent of my parenting knowledge came from watching Bob Saget raise the Olson twins. The same went for my sister who was convinced that all babies were born saying, “You got it, dude.”

This all changed when my sister gave birth to her son, Spencer. Suddenly a baby was around, and my sister quickly became a very good mother. I, on the other hand, lived three hundred and fifty miles away from my sister (and my parents), so I didn’t get the kind of hands on experience with kids that she did. While she was learning the names of every kid’s toy and TV show, I was blissfully ignorant in Los Angeles doing…well, whatever it is dudes in their twenties do. (Mostly drinking beer and complaining about how much worse the new Star Wars films were than the originals.)

One day I got a call from my Dad saying that my mother had suffered a stroke. (NOTE: She’s recovered now and back to her wacky ways as my readers know, so there’s no need to get depressed!) Anyway, I quickly travelled up to the Bay Area to be with my family in the hospital. I stayed there the whole day – visiting with my mother and speaking with doctors – until around three in the morning when my sister and I decided to go back to her house to get some rest.

Once we arrived at my sister’s place it was pretty dark because my brother-in-law and Spencer were already asleep, so I fumbled my way over to the couch and lied down. My sister then brought me a pillow and a blanket, shut off the home’s one remaining light, and retired to her bedroom leaving me alone in the pitch black family room.

Despite the late hour, I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts were swirling in my head, and before long I was pondering pretty heavy, existential questions. I asked God/the universe why my mother had to have had a stroke. I mean why would a good God suddenly reach down and change a person from healthy to sick at the drop of a hat? It mustn’t be God, I thought. It must be an evil force. The devil perhaps. I then told myself I was being crazy. The devil doesn’t exist. I shook my head, amused with myself, and turned over. Just as I was about to fall to sleep, however, a horrifying, high pitched voice rang out.


I sat up, frightened.


I panted as I peered toward the source of the devilish laughter, but in the pitch black house I couldn’t see anything. As my eyes slowly acclimated to the darkness…


Then I saw it. My blood went cold and droplets of sweat popped up on my forehead. I may have even wet myself. Standing in the corner of the room…was a two foot tall red demon. His nightmarish, high pitched voice rang out again.


“Oh my God,” I thought. “I summoned the devil by doubting his existence and now he’s going to kill me.”


“Never, demon!” I snarled.


I covered my head with my pillow and recited the Lord’s Prayer over and over again. This seemed to work as the demon stopped talking, but I didn’t dare take my head out from under the pillow to check if he was gone.

The next thing I remember was awakening with a start. The family room was filled with light, and my sister was making breakfast. I slowly sat up, then exhaled, relieved, until…


With fear in my eyes I slowly turned to the corner of the room where my nephew, Spencer, giggled as he played with his Talking Elmo doll. He then picked up the doll and ran over to me with him.

“Uncle Mike!” Spencer said as he jutted Elmo toward me. “Have you met my friend, Elmo?”

“Yes, Spencer,” I slowly replied. “We’ve met.”

My sister later explained that the doll speaks at the time you program, and she had mistakenly programmed 3 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. Awesome, sis.

I’ve since learned that most parents think Elmo is the devil, but it’s unlikely that many of them have literally thought he was. The good news is that today, thanks to Maddie, I’m not so clueless about kids, and am confident that I could face any terror out there. Any terror except having an Elmo in the house, that is. Sorry, Maddie.