If you want to know what it’s like to experience a real-life horror film, I highly recommend having children. If you have none, borrow someone’s for a weekend to see what happens at night. When the moon is out, and the sky is black, and the witching hour ticks closer.
After the sounds of your house come to life in the form of floorboards creaking without a step on them. Dishes clanking in an empty kitchen and the soft sounds of what you think are whispers but disappear when you lean your head to listen. Your kids will rise from their beds and do all kinds of weird crap.
I’m already afraid of everything, so it takes very little to scare me. Since having kids, I have to suck it up and be brave — unless I want to spend the rest of our days and most of their childhood saving money for therapy. I have to downplay everything because that’s what you do if you ever want to sleep again. That’s what you do if you don’t want your kids to be afraid of something you’re not even sure isn’t there. As a parent, I’ve been most creeped out when my kids:
1. Laugh in their sleep.
There has never been anything funny about this after midnight — ever.
2. Had night terrors.
This was the only time in my parenting when I was completely freaked out. After they finished screaming, they would look through me. Not at me, through me. Then they would proceed to wander the room with jerky motions and look around like they’d never seen anything like it.
3. Stand by the bed and say nothing.
I know you all have woken up in the middle of the night and nearly had a heart attack because a child is simply standing by your bed saying nothing. In the dark. Four inches from your face. Then they whisper, “Hello, Mommy.”
4. Freak out over nothing.
My daughter climbed into our bed one night upset because something had scared her. A few minutes after she had settled into sleep between my husband and me, she sat up and started to panic saying, “I want to go back to my room. I want to go back to my room.” I carried her back to her bed and tucked her in, and there were no more issues. But I couldn’t stop thinking that whatever she was afraid of in her room was now in mine.
I woke up once around 2 a.m. and went to check on my kids before I went back to sleep. As I walked the rounds, I noticed the light on in the TV room. Thinking someone woke up to get a toy, I walked in and saw one of my kids sitting up on the couch with a blanket over her lap facing the TV. She was sound asleep with her eyes partially open.
6. Say weird things.
One evening at bedtime, I was lying with my 3-year-old when she said to me, “Which way do Grandma and Grandpa live?” I pointed over our heads and said, “That way. Minnesota is north.” She hesitated and then looked over at the window, pointed, and said, “What about her?”
7. Say they’re scared of their room.
In our old house, I remember my kids not wanting their doors shut. They went from being fine with it to not being fine with it. They would panic if the door was shut. They would cry and sometimes scream. They would shake. Eventually, the door was propped open with something heavy, and we had so many lights on in the room, you could have landed a 747 in there.
8. Cry because their door is closed.
And I left it open.
9. Have weird lights that show up on their baby monitors.
I’ve seen some weird orbs, lights, and shadows on our monitors throughout the years. Also, my kids’ eyes glow. But when they fall asleep their eyes look black like a dark soul.
10. Ask what that noise outside was.
After you go on a long explanation to make things as comforting as possible to your children, you end with, “It was nothing,” as I inconspicuously look out the window for a man on the lawn wearing someone else’s face.
Who needs a Ouija board when you have toddlers and a baby monitor? Not that you need kids to experience creepy things, but kids amplify it. Or attract it. I’m not sure which. Maybe it’s both. All I know for sure is that I’ve lost a lot more sleep over things my kids do and react to than anything else. Well, that’s not completely true. I couldn’t sleep for a week after I watched Paranormal Activity, and for a week, I was positive my cat’s shadow was wandering around the house without her. It’s one of the many topics the What to Expect books don’t cover in thorough detail, and they should. After all, it would have been nice to know that someday I would wake up just from the presence of someone standing by my bed only to whisper, “Hello, Mommy.”