Ssh! Don’t Tell the Grownups

Mother would not approve.

Mother would not approve.

The Monstore is a place that only kids know about. No grownups ever go there, and they wouldn’t know how to get in even if they did. As we continue our week celebrating the release of her new picture book, author Tara Lazar has us EMUs thinking about the secrets we once kept from grownups and the kids-only places we retreated to way back then.

Hiding Out

Hiding Out

So, here they are. Pretty sneaky kids, these EMUs. Read on.

Pat Zietlow Miller: When I was growing up, my babysitter, who lived just down the street, had a small hideout under her front porch. You crawled under the porch through a little green door. It was musty. It was dirty. It was awesome. She had a guest book you would sign, plus games and magazines. And she let us visit a lot.

It made me feel so cool!

Laurie Ann Thompson: Two places stand out for me. When I was a preschooler, my brother and I found the space under the eaves in our old farmhouse. It had been used for storage by previous owners long ago, but had been forgotten. There were old clothes, black and white movie reels, etc. We would go in there and stretch the movies out by hand against the window so we could see the images. Our cat liked it in there, too. Small, dark, and cozy, where the adults would never go. Perfect!

Going to great heights to hide out.

Going to great heights to hide out.

Then when I was in first grade, we moved to another old farm. We weren’t really farmers, so it didn’t matter that much of it had fallen into disuse and disrepair. When I wanted to get away from everything (which was fairly often since I was such an introvert), I used to climb up the barely attached rusty metal ladder to the top of the crumbling concrete silo so I could sit on the rotten wooden platform at the top, legs dangling down. I loved being up so high, seeing everything for miles, feeling the wind, enjoying the quiet. No one knew I was there. In fact, years later when I told my dad that was my favorite place to go while we were living there, he was shocked. He said he would never have let me climb it, as the whole thing was ready to collapse… let alone having a child 60 feet up in the air unharnessed and unsupervised! I guess it’s a good thing I was tiny and had very good balance. 🙂

Josh McCune: I’m feeling as if I led a rather dull childhood. I cannot for the life of me recall a secret hiding place. I did try to create secret traps – i.e., holes covered with leaves. Thankfully I was about as good at making traps as I was at finding secret places to hide. I did once hide in a box dressed as a monkey for my grandparents’ anniversary. Does that count?

Jump-on-the-Head, a popular game among the 5-year-old set. Its rules vary from state to state.

Jump-on-the-Head, a popular game among the 5-year-old set. Its rules vary from state to state.

In terms of stealth maneuvering, when I was five, my best friend was spending the night. We were playing this awesome game of jump-on-the-head. He lost. He was not happy and went home w/o my parents’ knowledge. I knew my father would be furious if he discovered what had happened. So I skulked out of the house at like midnight (okay, it was probably 9, but it felt like midnight), crossed the street, cloak-and-daggered it inside his house and convinced him to sneak back over to my house. Not sure if that story’s relevant, but it’s one of my favorite under-the-parent-radar memories 🙂


Now largely obsolete, weaponry such as these once struck terror into the hearts of the enemy.

Christine Hayes (our newest EMU!): My grandparents ran an apple orchard for many years, and their home was a natural gathering place for the all the cousins. Down in a gully behind the house grew thick patches of reeds, or cattails–probably not the proper name for them, but that’s what we always called them. We used to split into groups and build forts in the reeds with any spare supplies we could scrounge: cardboard, wood scraps, even apple crates. Then we would declare war and attack each other’s forts, using the fuzzy tips of the cat tails as weapons. Such a great memory!

Carol Brendler (aka Me): One summer, the row of empty lots next to our house became a sea of grass several feet high. It must have been very dry that year, because we discovered that crawling in the grass made it flatten into paths really easily. So my brothers and me and the neighborhood kids set to work making a vast (to us) network of trails that connected a bunch of secret chambers where we could sit and talk and no one could see us, ever. I don’t remember how many days or weeks we spent expanding our web in the field that summer, but it didn’t last. By the following summer, the lots had mostly been sold off and houses were built, and our secret hideout was gone forever.

Won’t you tell us in the comments about your forts, hideouts, and secret places? Come on, it’s fun!

The Monstore is now available!

The Monstore is now available!

And look for The Monstore at your local bookshop and online.



Filed under Celebrations, Colleagues, Happiness

18 responses to “Ssh! Don’t Tell the Grownups

  1. Pingback: Ssh! Don’t Tell the Grownups | Carol Brendler Books

  2. So fun (and terrifying — Laurie!!) to read about these secret hiding places! Another reason THE MONSTORE is so awesome for kids and adults alike. The appeal of the “secret place” is universal. 🙂

    We used to play WWII in the attic of my parents’ garage. We were hiding from Nazis. Yeah…I don’t know either…


  3. My dad made me a teepee around a large tree in our back yard. I think it was made from a heavy green army tarp. I loved going in there and sitting. Wish I had a picture of it, but none exists.


  4. I am so Excited to read Tara’s book! When I was young we had a three story house. The top floor had two cupboards or crawl spaces. My parents stored boxes and luggage in them. I use to crawl into the back of one of them where I made a little hiding nook. I could read by flashlight, curl up with a blanket, play with stuffed animals, or pretend I was in a time machine that could take me to any time I wanted. Our basement had some good hiding places to but…that’s where the monsters were!


  5. If I ever get $100,000,000+ I want to build a castle with hidden stuff!


  6. I can’t wait to read The Monstore! Kid spaces are the best kept secrets of childhood! As a kid, my brother and I created tent houses that my mom would let us keep for weeks at a time. Or, until arguing outweighed fun… We each had our own little sleeping areas, kitchens and such. There was a big common room between the personal spaces that was open to anyone. Our dog, Ginger, often took turns sleeping with each of us and was typically the instigator of collapses or building demolition. We had all the necessities…flashlights, fm transistor radios, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books and lots of snacks! We bonded in that tent in our basement and also found our love of reading mysteries. Those were the good old days! : )


  7. I can’t wait to read The Monstore. My sister and I created our own hideouts with tables and blankets. We would have had more if we had a monstorengineer! 🙂


  8. Jen

    Two places stand out for me. Making a “fort” in the bathtub and sleeping there on occasion…lots of pillows and blankets! The other place I liked to create a secret space in was under our basement stairs. There was a large cupboard there and I would clean out the bottom shelf space (maybe 5 x 3) and make my haven. The doors slid closed so no one knew I was there.


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