You know what’s fucked? The Secret Service.
Or, more specifically, the President’s Secret Service bodyguards. That oddly desirable career choice to become a human meat shield; willing to give years and years of dedication, only to live ever-ready to throw yourself in harm’s way for some mildly irritating dickhead that gives you not much in return.
But you know what’s even more fucked?
Minus the salary, the career prospects, the sense of superiority at High School reunions, and the baller business cards, it’s a fairly accurate comparison to parenthood.
Like the Secret Service, we’re introduced to some random stranger; a red-faced egomaniac who whinges and whines and orders us around, and yet, oddly, we would happily take a bullet for them without thinking.
Us parents would take on anything for our kids… or would we?
Let’s be honest.
Just between us, there are those rare moments, those dark instances, where we hesitate. Where we go, “…maybe they can handle this one on their own.”
As Meatloaf once over-theatrically trilled, ‘I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that’.
“But what’s ‘that’?” I hear you curiously ask.
“Goddamn ghosts”, I quiveringly reply.
My kid is haunted. And I’m less than fucking thrilled about it.
Now, before you judge, allow me to provide some context.
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the supernatural.
Example A. When I was nine years old, my mum and dad went out for dinner. My old man took me aside and told me that, while they were gone, I was the man of the house; that I had to protect my sleeping sisters. Fortunately, he’d provided me with some entertainment while they were out. He set it all up for me.
The Exorcist on VHS.
I watched the entire thing. Not out of bravery, but because I was legit too shit-scared to move.
It remains the single most terrifying two hours of my life.
And then, when they got back from dinner, my dad parked the car on street, crept up to the house, and scratched his fingers along all the windows until I had the child’s equivalent of a heart attack.
Twenty-five years later, that movie still scratches my brain in all the wrong places when I think about it.
Some might say that particular experience traumatised me towards all things ghostly; that the current supernatural encounters with my boy are just figments of my slightly PTSD’ed brain. To those people, I offer Example B.
A good friend of mine has a son. Since he was a baby, he would point at the exact same corner of his bedroom and laugh… and sometimes scream. Their dog never liked that corner. He wouldn’t go near it, and would bark and raise his hackles when he passed by. As my mate’s boy got older and learned to speak, the story got a little more terrifying. My mate would catch him having deep and personal conversations by himself. Or so it seemed. The boy would always be looking up. High up.
He called his conversation partner ‘The Dark Man’.
He said that The Dark Man was funny. But sometimes he would forget things, and then he would get mad, and then he would get scary.
One day, my friend asked his son if The Dark Man had another name. His son, only four at the time, said “his name is Yurri.”
My mate did some digging. Turns out (and I shit thee not), the guy that had owned the house before them was a man called Yurri. An elderly bloke who had Alzheimer’s; and when he forgot things, would fly into a fit of rage. Also, Yurri had been tall. So tall, in fact, that he’d taken out all the light fittings in his house, so his head was always in the dark.
The Dark Man.
Now my friend has a little girl, Mary.
And Mary has started talking to The Dark Man too.
Yep, I know. Terrifying.
So anyway, back to my point. My goddamn haunted son.
He has bunk beds. He sleeps on the bottom one. And, for the last two years, he’s been chatting to something that lives on the top one.
Not just occasionally. All the fucking time. Morning, noon and night.
If I wasn’t so scared, and if it wasn’t a horrific apparition potentially hell-bent on possessing my soul, I’d try and charge it rent.
It’s something we can all sense.
My dog would walk past at 2 am and wake me by growling at the thing in the top bunk. My wife would get a weird sense of something watching her when she went in there in the morning.
My boy calls him his Grandfather. Which is even more concerning, given his Grandfather is dead and he has a photo of him on his windowsill.
But here’s the rub. Unlike my childhood Exorcist trauma or the Stephen King-esqueness of The Dark Man, my boy’s ‘Grandfather’ actually seems quite chill.
He taught my son that fuchsia is a kind of purple and that the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird in the world. He taught him the Cardinal Rule that “you never hit another boy in the balls, ever”. He taught him a song designed to stop my youngest kid from crying at night… and it works every time. Recently he revealed that, if you’re getting bullied, screaming “Jujitsu” and kicking them in the kneecaps works a treat.
All sound advice. So I’m at a bit of a loss.
I hate sending my son into a room where I’m fairly sure the spirit of my dead father-in-law lives too… mainly because my horror-film-addled brain is telling me there will come a day* (*night) where I’ll have to go in there, single-handed, and face his demonic form.
But, at the same time, my boy is legit getting a better education in that room of nightmares than he is at his over-priced North Sydney daycare.
It’s that age-old debate between Sydney’s exorbitant living costs and eternal supernatural possession.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
I’d love to hear your straight up shit-scary thoughts and stories about your kids.
We all have ‘em.
Don’t be scared, gents.
Well, at least not of sharing.
But be damn scared of what’s living on your kid’s top bunk…