As a missionary, I have many different roles (coach, mentor, pastor, counselor, handyman-in my case a bad one, administrator, motivator, spiritual parent) but there is one that few people ever see because it’s meant for a single person.
Almost nobody outside of family has seen “silly Uncle John”
A week after arriving in Melbourne Australia as a missionary in 2007 my niece Chloe Wilburn (who turned 11 yesterday) was born. I was overjoyed with the opportunity to be an Uncle for the first time, but wasn’t sure how to connect with her via a computer screen on Skype.
After trying a few things I came up with the idea of creating “Mr. Tickle Monster”
Tickle Monsters only job (and he did it very well) was to make my niece laugh. He would tell jokes, fall asleep, and disappear (only to reappear on the other side of the screen), but her favorite part was his entrance.
I was always careful not to talk about Tickle Monster during Skype chats or facetime, but about five minutes in he would slowly begin to enter the corner of the screen. The look of excitement on her face as she shouted “Tickle Monster!” was always worth it.
Over the years they’ve met face to face, and his comedic routines are enjoyed by my nephew Titus (who turned six yesterday). But in honor of their birthdays Mr. Tickle Monster is officially retired.
That doesn’t mean I will stop being a silly Uncle (that could never happen) but both of them, Chloe especially, are growing out of the silly stage.
In January 2017 I was able to go to Disney World with my family for a vacation. Over facetime my niece explained to me in very clear terms Tickle Monster was not allowed to come (mostly because he’s too loud).
It was then that I knew his days were numbered.
I could see his retirement coming though, thats with the Lords help I embraced those silly moments.
Don’t worry about Tickle Monster folks he’s had a VERY good run. Besides in a year or so he will start making an appearance for my youngest niece Noelle, and as he appears in the corner of the screen a look of excitement will still fill Chloe’s eyes.