Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Lions in the Closet

March 16, 2016

Our son was an easygoing child. Mrs. Chatterbox and I coasted through his terrible twos and beyond without any problems. Many parents have difficulty putting their children down for the night but CJ, our blond haired, blue-eyed little Hummel, slept until morning without incident—until the monster arrived.

           

“Daddy, I can’t sleep. There’s a monster in the closet!”

           

“A monster?”

           

He nodded.

           

“What kind of monster?”

           

He reached for a picture book and flipped to a photograph of a snarling king of beasts.

           

“A lion? You think there’s a lion in your closet?”

           

He nodded again.

           

I opened the closet door to prove there wasn’t a lion or any other scary creature in the closet, but CJ refused to go to sleep unless I sat in the rocking chair beside his bed until he drifted off.

           

The same thing happened the next night.

           

And the night after that.

           

At the time, I was managing a jewelry store at our local mall. One day I took a break to stretch my legs and wandered past a toy store where I spotted a plush stuffed lion in the window. An idea took shape in my head. I purchased the lion and brought it home, making certain CJ didn’t spot it. During dinner, I excused myself and placed the lion in CJ’s closet. While doing so, I encountered something unexpected— a lion in the closet.

           

My startled yelp drew Mrs. Chatterbox’s attention. She arrived, laughing at my shocked expression as I stood there with a stuffed lion in my arms.

 

“I guess great minds think alike,” she said. “I also purchased a lion today, and placed it in CJ’s closet when I got home from work.”

           

With CJ working on a bowl of Spaghettios in his kitchen highchair, we added the second lion to his closet. My lion was bigger than Mrs. C’s, giving the impression of a mommy or daddy lion with its cub—anatomical correctness isn’t a priority with stuffed animals and sexual identification isn’t easy.

           

At bedtime CJ made the usual fuss. “Daddy, there’s a lion in the closet.”

           

This time I slowly answered, “You know, I think you’re right. I bet there is a lion in the closet.”

           

His blue eyes went round as saucers. He tried to hide behind a bed pillow.

           

“Let’s check it out,” I said.

 

When I opened the closet door, CJ spotted the cuddly lions and shrieked with delight. He snatched them from the closet and pulled them onto his bed, where they remained for several years.

 

He never again complained that he couldn’t sleep because of lions in the closet, although different lions, far more realistic and not nearly as cuddly as the ones temporarily residing in our son’s closet, briefly haunted my dreams.

 

Did you or any of your children have issues requiring creative parenting?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
Clever parents! At least it was a real monster. Matching a stuffed toy to a fake one would've been difficult.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on March 16, 2016
That was brilliant! I love how you both thought of the same idea :)
By: The Bug on March 16, 2016
What a cute story. Very nice parenting for sure. I don't remember anything very interesting with our 2 children. Both were pretty easy kids and did some funny things as kids do but nothing that required much creativity on our part.
By: Cheryl P. on March 16, 2016
I do not recall any sleeping issues once my boys were in separate bedrooms- before that it was hard to get them to sleep instead of giggling and having pillow wars! I think you and Mrs C were brilliant!
By: Kathe W. on March 16, 2016
I don't have kids so never had to deal with this. I do remember watching Wuthering Heights and when the Ghosts were walking towards the Moors, I freaked and didn't want to go downstairs to sleep. My father just told me to smarten up. My mother comforted me and made the bed on the couch that evening.
By: Birgit on March 16, 2016
A lovely story. Great move by Mom and Dad Chatterbox. Our eldest loved Spiderman so I brought home a Spiderman bust that came to the television station as a promotional item. She loved it during the day, but at night his eyes had to be turned from a gaze at her or he had to be put to bed in the closet.
By: Tom Cochrun on March 16, 2016
Now that was a clever solution. We've never had children but our dogs are afraid of thunder. I open to any suggestions you have:)
By: Rick Watson on March 16, 2016
so very sweet.
By: TexWisGirl on March 16, 2016
Not only clever parenting but that you were both on the same page at the same time was amazing.
By: Arkansas Patti on March 16, 2016
#1 Son used to get out of bed and wander to the kitchen and open the fridge. We had to put a bell on his door so we would know when he was up and roaming.
By: messymimi on March 16, 2016
What a clever idea from both of you - I love it! I don't remember any fears with my boys, but when I was a kid I once woke up in the morning, convinced there was a wolf under my bed just waiting to eat me. I remember being terrified...and having to go to the bathroom, but not daring to get out from under the covers.
By: Pixel Peeper on March 16, 2016
My oldest son used to have night terrors when he slept in his crib. We let him lay on the couch when he was 2-3 years old, but he would NOT fall asleep. So we went to bed and left him there. He would wander the house like a tiny night watchman, then go to sleep on the couch when he was ready.
By: Val on March 16, 2016
My son spent several years waking up to the monster. He would always say he's over there, I wish I had been creative. It was a difficult time for him. This is a very common situation with kids.
By: red Kline on March 16, 2016
I had many, many things I did. When my daughter couldn't sleep, I would pour a glass of warm milk and tell her to go find a penny. I told her to place the penny tail side up and place the glass on the penny. (Heads up was to cure the chicken pox) Then count to ten and drink the milk. That will make you sleepy. Of course, I was lying, but she bought it and it worked for several years.
By: Brett Minor (Transformed Nonconformist) on March 16, 2016
Great idea - and amazing that both you and Mrs C had it at the same time.
By: jenny_o on March 16, 2016
Great story!
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on March 17, 2016
What a team -- and what wonderful parents! When I was 3, I told my father there was a monster in my room. He said, "Oh, stop being a baby!!!"
By: Mitchell Is Moving on March 17, 2016
Brilliant and creative!
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 17, 2016
I cried that there was a naked lady in my closet and all I got was a stupid blow-up doll. Funny story, can't believe you both came up with the same solution on the same day.
By: cranky on March 17, 2016
Excellent! When I had the monster under the bed terrors, (no closet in my room), my mom took some of her perfume, cut with water, put it in a spray bottle, and told me it was Monster Spray, and I was to spray under the bed. The floor could have grown rice for a few days, as often as I sprayed, but I wasn't scared after that. And, for that matter, my room smelled better! Cat
By: Cat on March 17, 2016
That's a great story. I don't have any kids so nothing to share here.
By: Michael Offutt on March 17, 2016
That was a very enjoyable anecdote about parenting. We all carry similar ones. Thanks. I loved this post. Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on March 17, 2016
Now that really is clever. I am impressed!!!!
By: Jenny on March 17, 2016
My daughter had her little lambs (we brought a back-up from Ebay cause she was so attached and they stopped making them). When she found out there were two, she had to have them both... She still does!
By: Sage on March 18, 2016

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