Saturday, April 04, 2015

Dear Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace, 
C/o Mr Hank Ketcham, and after his death, his assistants, Ron Ferdinand and Marcus Hamilton, 
2251 Pine Street, Carmel, California

Dear Dennis,

When I was a kid, I thought you were adorable. I admired the manner in which you sent grownups scurrying for cover. I marveled at your ability to blow up your own world (and Mr Wilson’s too, more often than not) with that look of pure innocence on your face. I thought Mr Wilson was a little too harsh on you. You were just being a kid. Sure you were mischievous, but you didn’t deliberately set out to ruin his garden or disrupt his coin and stamp collections or even to damage his possessions and property and other things that he held dear. It just happened.

Things have a way of happening when you’re in the neighbourhood. And for reasons beyond your control, you end up annoying your best grownup friend. Still, no big deal. If things got a tad bit too hot, your parents should have been able to handle it. It is their responsibility to discipline you. That’s what they signed up for. That’s what I used to think.

Before I had my own.

Now I’m a mother and while I am appalled at your behaviour, particularly at the thought of all the explaining that might be required and the messes that will have to be straightened out, I know better. I no longer judge your long-suffering parents. My sympathies to your mother, who will no doubt be reading this letter out loud to you.

But my affection for you remains.

Besides, you have your own challenges to deal with, particularly the one called Margaret. I agree with you; she’s quite insufferable, and too pretentious and self-important too. Who gave her the right to judge your manners? Or to believe herself qualified to improve them?

The good thing about living in a comic creation is that no matter how often you blow it, Hank Ketcham could make it all right again.

I’m grateful for that.

For the fact that the world can be set right again, even if for a brief while, while you load up your ammo (read: snakes, frogs and your slingshot) and prepare to assault us again. Unintentionally, of course.

I am also grateful for your wide-eyed curiosity, for your well-meaning efforts to help that somehow end up going wrong, for your tactless honesty, even if it causes the grownups to go ouch, your energy and exuberance, all gifts of childhood that we have lost.

Parts of our ears are still jangling with horror at the sheer loudness of the noise you can generate, when you sing cowboy songs loudly or when you bang your toy drums or blow into your toy horns. And there are department store Santas, babysitters, sales staff, barbers and postmen who suffer nervous breakdowns at the mere mention of your name.

Beneath it all, you’re just a little boy who believes in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus,

Just a five-and-a-half-year-old boy.

And that’s why everyone loves you.

Good Ol’ Mr Wilson too, though you’ll never catch him admitting that.


  1. Another brilliant post! I'm really enjoying your A to Z theme. I guess this what the challenge is about - finding inspiring bloggers you wouldn't normally stumble across.

  2. Oh. This is so welcome. I had such a day with my grandson. Got into a palm plant and dumped dirt all over the carpet. I am sure he thinks his name is either 'no' or 'arghh'. I am sure he was glad to see Dad come get him (the plus side of being a Grandma is sending them home.)

  3. Love the whole feel of your blog and this post in particular could so relate to it as a mom. I am doing the #atozchallenge in the memory of my late father who recently passed away.

  4. Loved Dennis the Menace as a child and still love him. So glad you chose to write to him :-)

  5. Oh, I do remember Dennis, just a bundle of dynamite. Thanks for the fun post.

  6. Thank you, Ellen, the challenge does help us make new blogger friends. Looking forward to catching up with you.

  7. The best part about the grandparent and grandchild relationship is that you get to gang up against the generation in between. Hope you enjoy this time. And yes, Denise, handing him over to Dad when you get exhausted is the best part.

  8. HI, Pooja, thank you for liking my blog. I look forward to catching up on yours.

  9. Thank you, Anne, though now that you mention it, I wonder if his mom will read the letter out to him. I don't think she's want him to know that he has a fan base.

  10. Thank you for reading and commenting, Bob. I have always thought the world of Dennis. Thankfully, he doesn't live in my neighbourhood. I don't think my affection could have withstood his physical presence. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

  11. It sure is interesting how our perspective changes once we are parents. Love the article.

  12. Thank you, and yeah, Jeffrey, nothing like being at the receiving end and having to clean up all the mess. Changes your perspective faster than anything else.



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