Kids are scary.
I think most parents would agree kids are scary. There is something truly terrifying about looking down at that little bundle of joy after you or your wife has given birth and knowing they are completely dependent on you for their needs, both physical and emotional, their wellbeing and their upbringing. It's also a bit scary to know that, according to modern psychology, you will be ultimately responsible for every bad decision they make. So... There's that.
But that's not the scary I am talking about.
To illustrate the point, picture this. You are laying awake in bed, your significant other sleeping soundly next to you. You have your laptop open and you're browsing the internet, checking Facebook or Twitter, or watching an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. The room all around you is still, quiet and dark. You're in your sanctum of solace and comfort. Because of the light from your laptop screen, you can't really make out the surroundings of the room. That's ok, because this is a safe place.
Just then, a shiver runs down your spine, like a sliver of ice that some malicious elf has dropped down the collar of your t-shirt or nightgown. Suddenly you don't feel alone. Someone is watching you, studying you from the darkness behind the illumination of the LCD. You blink, trying to block out the light, as you peer into the now oppressive darkness all around you. You see a lurking shadow, small and unrecognizable. Is it a burglar? A serial killer? If so, it's the smallest serial killer you have ever heard of. Perhaps it's a serial killer dwarf midget? Your heart beats in panic, a tattoo of terror building into a crescendo. You grit your teeth and pull down the lid of the laptop to close off the blinding light, preparing to face this little stone-skinned assassin who comes lurking and bumping in the dark to kill you and everything you hold near and dear.
As the light dims and your eyes adjust you swallow a scream of terror and fear as you recognize the face before you. It's not a satanic dwarf come to kill you and drink your blood. It's a face that is so angelic and peaceful in the daylight your heart is heavy with love and devotion. But at night, stricken slack by the lingering dream that broke their peaceful slumber, this face is as creepy as anything from a King or Lovecraft novel, as terrifying as anything from a Hitchcock film.
It's your child!
By all that's holy, it's your child there in the dark come to murder you in your sleep!
I saw an article this week about Lisa and Louise Burns; the twins (who are now grown up) from the Stanley Kurbrick version of Stephen King's "The Shining". The article told a little bit about where are they now, and showed a picture of them from the movie.
Here's a link to the article.
I have actually never seen the movie, but I did see a picture of them in the movie, along with the quote: "Come play with us Danny". It made me shiver just looking at those two creepy kids. Coincidentally they grew up into two kinda creepy adults also, but that's beside the point.
I can't help but think at some point in Stephen King's life, he must have awoken to the sound of something rustling out in his living room, and he got up to investigate, only to find one of his children lurking in the darkness in the grips of a frightening bout of sleepwalking. I bet he thought to himself: "Holy Moses, that was freaky. I should make that a scene in a book!"
Then he thought, "What's scarier than one child in the dark? Two kids! Make em twins!"
And Eureka, the Burns twins got a job!
The other night, I endured a similar situation to the one I described above. I was laying in bed, my wife soundly asleep beside me, when I heard the bedroom door across the hall from my room open with an eerie creak. I saw my middle daughter stumble out of the doorway, and make her way down the hall. In one hand she held her favorite blanket, which she has loved since she was born. In the other, she dragged her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - Michelangelo - along by one stuffed foot, as though she had murdered him in her room and was leaving the scene of the crime to dispose of the body.
"Mommeeeeeee," She called out in a voice that I can only describe as bone chillingly freaky. It was the sort of sound made only by an adult who has smoked for approximately eighty thousand years, a zombie looking for a nightly feast of human brains, OR a child sleepwalking.
I heard her stumble the full length of the hall where it ended in the living room. She continued to call out in that ghastly voice. Ever the brave soul, I shut off the light and pulled the covers up, praying she would just return to bed without coming into our room.
She made her way back down the hall, and I saw her stop in my doorway. I mustered the courage to turn the light back on, and I sat up in bed as she turned her squinting, angry eyes at me.
"Sweetheart," I said, my voice cracking in terror like a puberty stricken teen. "Are you ok?"
"Where's Mommy!" She called out angrily.
"She's right here!" I cried in terror. "Just take her and leave me be!"
Just kidding. I only thought those words.
Instead I said, "She's right here honey. Are you ok? Do you need something?"
"No," She responded grumpily. "I just wanted to know where Mommy was."
And with that the fiendish imp returned to her room and her bed, having done her sleepwalking inventory of her most beloved parent.
I really don't know what it is about kids that make them so scary. In the daytime they are the bearers of our future, our namesakes, the culmination of everything we hope to be and the greatest of our achievements. But at night they turn into creepy little devils that lurk in the dark to scare us so bad we wet ourselves a little when we bump into them in the hallways.
Admit it, it's happened to you. Don't be a hero.
But now it's dark again, and as I am writing this I hear something stirring in the house outside my room. I have to go check it out now, because, I'm a man, and that's my job. I just hope it's something rational like a serial killer or a flesh-eating monster spider and not my children wandering in the gloom.
Pray for me. Pray for us all...