[Originally published June 20, 2011.]
Dear Child Protective Services case worker,
Thank you for the concern directed toward my family and especially the welfare of my daughter, Dora. I believe Dora would fare much better living under my care than in the foster home situation that was discussed and I thank you for this opportunity to present my case.
I recognize that Dora’s life is not typical of other seven-year-olds. But I think given the environment we live in, we present her with appropriate and stimulating activities.
Let’s get the monkey thing out of the way right off the bat. Yes, it is true that Dora spends most of her day in the woods with a talking monkey that wears red boots. Yes, that monkey is actually named Boots, after his own footwear. Yes, the days my daughter spends in the woods with this monkey occur instead of attendance in an actual school. And yes, I admit, I never follow her into the woods or check on her welfare in any way. I just hope for the best while she wanders the woods with her friend the monkey.
Please know that I am concerned about her well being but I also recognize that she returns home safely—eventually—after each one of these days. And frankly, those woods terrify me. I don’t want to go in there. I mean, one talking monkey I can handle but those woods are full of talking maps, talking backpacks, talking birds, talking crocodiles, talking squirrels, and this odd talking fox. These things should not talk. And they should not be bilingual.
I grew up in Los Angeles. Typical Catholic upbringing, nothing too surprising. After high school, I went to UCLA and had a very happy and stable life despite my odd first name (“Mommy”). After college I met my husband. He had a job opportunity to move here, coach youth soccer, and apparently have no other job. This seemed strange to me but I was willing to give it a try.
Soon after that, Dora was born. It wasn’t her enormous football-shaped head that concerned me. It was that as she grew, she began speaking to people who weren’t there. I know that imaginary friends are a perfectly normal part of childhood but this was different. Dora would speak to an entire group of people, almost like an audience. And she would demand things of them: “Say map! Say map!” It was like super-bossy group-oriented schizophrenia. But she seemed happy in her way.
So instead of sending my daughter to school, yes, I just send her out into the woods with a monkey. I’m not sure what happens there. I think they cross rivers sometimes and go over mountains. I like to think they help people. I don’t really know what happens in those woods because, as I said, that place scares the shit out of me.
I let Dora go there because I don’t think she would do well in a traditional school setting. And I’m also scared what the monkey and the other creatures of the woods would do to me if I took Dora away.
What will become of Dora? Perhaps one day she’ll want to leave the woods, make human friends, and join society. Or it might go the other way and she’ll just spend all of her time in the woods, become one with them. Marry the monkey—hell, I don’t know, makes as much sense as anything else—and I’ll never see her again.
All I can offer Dora is love, support, the occasional meal when she shows up at the house, and the best chance she has to be happy in her own way.
Thank you for your time and for this chance to explain my circumstances.
Mommy the Explorer