My son is 7 and he’s terrified of being in any part of the house by himself. If we’re upstairs, he won’t go downstairs. If we’re downstairs, he won’t go upstairs. It’s bad. If he’s upstairs with just one other person, he won’t let that person go to the bathroom without him. He’s a giant chicken. He’ll scream and cry and generally act like a toddler.
We live in a modern split level. We have no basement. You’re never that far from anywhere else in this house. It’s just not that big. It would be different if we had a giant sprawling home or some old house that made tons of noises.
My husband sat our boy down and had a serious talk with him about why he is scared. The Monkey King cited a commercial he saw about the Long Island Serial Killer. I have no idea what this is or where my son saw it. Obviously, I know what a serial killer is and I know where Long Island is. I just don’t know any details, nor do I want to.
After this revelation, my husband explained why the Long Island Serial Killer wouldn’t be troublesome to my son. My son developed some little boy scenarios on how other killers might enter our home. My husband talked him through these and why these other killers would not be an issue either. Hoping that allowing my son to express his fears and talking through them would help him overcome them, my husband asked if there were any other reasons he was afraid to be separated from us in the house. Alas, there was.
This discussion occurred while I was out with friends last night. This morning during our shopping trip, my husband explained that my son says he sees a shadow man in the house. He wasn’t sure how to explain mind tricks to a 7 year old. My husband had looked online to see what other parents suggested and was disgusted to find so many parents saying they had the house blessed or burned sage or any number of goofy superstitious things.
I’m certainly not going to fill my son’s head with further nonsense though. But I wasn’t sure how to use reason to explain mind tricks to a 7 year old either. I put it out of my mind as I was also thinking of some other projects I’m working on.
When we arrived home with our shopping plunder, the Monkey King came out to help unload the car. Without even knowing what I was going to say, I asked him about the shadow man.
My son confirmed his belief that there is a shadow man in the house. So, I explained that once, when men (and women) lived outdoors or in caves, it was important for our minds to look for patterns in shadows. Those shadows could be hiding a lion or a tiger or something else that could hurt or kill us. Our brain is trained to find meaning in these shadows. It kept us alive.
I asked him if the shadow man was still there when he looked directly at him. The Monkey King said that no, no the man wasn’t there when he took another look. And I continued to explain that the man wasn’t there when my son looked closer because he hadn’t actually been there at all. Our mind is trained to look for these patterns, but as there are no lions and tigers in our home, he could ignore that information.
My husband told my son that there are pumas in the house (referring to me). My husband’s so funny. The next time my son crawls in bed with us because he’s scared, I’m going to go sleep on the couch with the cat. My husband can get elbowed in the head all night.