The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Fearing Fear Itself

My husband is an excellent bug killer, tight jar opener, wound-dresser, handyman and flat-tire fixer. He is, however, severely deficient in one husbandly area. Do they teach man classes on how to comfort your wife when she’s afraid of boogie men? Because I need to send my husband to one. It can be kind of like sensitivity training. Except there should be practicing in hugging and hair petting and cooing comfortingly.

Two nights ago I was watching TV at about 10:30 before going to bed and everyone else in the house was asleep. Jason had headed up to bed an hour and a half earlier because he has been doing some contract work lately and his preferred hours of contract working are 11PM to 3AM, for some reason. Probably because it involves drinking the blood of the living or cat burglaring.

By 10:30 I’m usually done for the night, so I checked to see that all the doors were locked, turned off the lights and marched up the stairs to settle in. Halfway up I almost killed myself and our 20 year old black cat, who was sleeping in the middle of a step and blending perfectly into the darkness. Don’t worry, though, she seemed fine after she squawked indignantly when I stepped on her midsection and nearly went tumbling down the stairs. She lived to shed, howl at nothing and sneeze on us yet another day.

After I made it up the stairs, I turned into our bedroom and walked past a snoring Jason into our bathroom/closet area, where I changed my clothes and decided I was thirsty. I almost always bring a glass of water to set on my nightstand while I’m asleep. I almost never drink from it. It’s apparently almost a compulsion, though, because even though I’d already turned off all the lights and changed my clothes, I wanted a glass of water bad enough to go back downstairs.

So, rolling my eyes at myself, I went back out into the loft and started to turn down the stairs. Only two stairs down, I stopped. The lights downstairs were on.

I stood there for a second and mentally retraced my steps. Did I just have too much wine before bed and forget to turn the lights off before coming up? This was possible because I am usually the first one to bed and Jason does the locking up and turning off of lights (and I like wine before bed). But no, I reminded myself, those lights were assuredly off no more than 30 seconds ago because that’s why I’d almost killed our elderly cat by internal organ squishing. It had been pitch black when I was walking up the stairs.

I peeked over the half-wall that separates our loft from the single-turn stairway. The lights were definitely on downstairs. I could still hear Jason snoring in our room, so it wasn’t that he’d gotten up and gone back down. I started to get the feeling this was the moment in the horror movie when the girl goes downstairs alone to investigate why the lights magically flipped themselves back on and the serial killer is hiding in a strategic location so when she steps down the bottom step he can grab her from behind and slit her throat without her making a sound.

I went back in our room and gently shook Jason, “Babe? Jason, can you wake up?”

“What?” he grumbled irritatedly. Jason does NOT like to be woken up. His first instinct is to yell at whomever is doing the waking.

“Well… so I was going to go back downstairs to get a drink of water, but the lights are on. And I know I turned them off…” I started, knowing full well he wasn’t going to jump out of bed to save me from the serial killer in my head.

“So did you go see why?”

“No… can you?”

Jason sighed loudly, got out of bed and went downstairs. I huddled next to the wall staring down into the stairwell.

“It’s Jonas down here, asleep on the couch,” he shouted up a couple of seconds later. Feeling sufficiently removed from the scary movie scenario, I headed downstairs, to find my three year old curled up on the couch. We can only guess he got up in the thirty seconds it took me to change my clothes, wandered downstairs, turned on the lights and fell back asleep on the couch.

I felt somewhat relieved, but the situation was still creepy enough to leave me remembering all of the disturbing children in horror movies: Damien from Rosemary’s Baby, the redrum kid from The Shining, the girl from The Exorcist, Macaulay Culkin in that Bad Seed movie.

I carried Jonas back to bed and wondered if sleep walking always indicates demonic possession, or just usually. Jason stayed downstairs in the office to begin his odd-houred contract killing. I mean work. Contract work.

After I put Jonas in his bed I turned around and went back to our room, flipping on the light switch as I entered. Nothing happened. I tried it again, knowing full well the room would remain dark. It did. Now I was sure I was in a horror movie. Or an episode of Criminal Minds. The only question was whether I was one of the first girls who were ruthlessly slaughtered, or the last girl who is either a little bit smarter or a little bit luckier and manages to thwart the psychotic fetishist serial killer.

I bolted back down the stairs shouting at the top of a whisper (because I was still just sane enough to know this wasn’t worth waking the kids over), “JASON!!! The light won’t work in our room! What’s wrong with the light?!”

Jason came upstairs with me, sighing heavily and exhibiting symptoms of full-fledged annoyance, “You’re going to sleep. Why do you care if the light doesn’t work?”

“Because it’s freaking me out!”

He flipped the light switch several times and when nothing happened, he shrugged and turned to go back downstairs, “I don’t know what’s wrong with it. I’ll figure it out tomorrow.”

“You realized I’m going to follow you downstairs with a pillow and blanket and curl up on the floor next to your desk while you work if you don’t figure out what’s going on and calm me down, right?”

We’ve been together long enough he knew this was no bluff. He thought about it for a second and then pulled the chain on the fan light and suddenly, the room was bright. Someone had turned the light off by the fan pull.

Again he turned to go.

“Did you turn it off like that?” I asked nervously.

“Not me. It must have been one of the kids.”

One of the kids who aren’t tall enough to reach the fan pull. Right.

He went downstairs to work. I slept with the light on and had nightmares. Isn’t there a class I can send him to to make him better at this?


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