Last week, I wrote about ghostly children and how frightening they can be. This week, I decided to concentrate on equally frightening children: the ones who are very much alive and can see things that most of us adults can't.
There is a reality show that runs on A & E TV called "Psychic Kids." It follows two or three youngsters, anywhere from age 11 through 17, over the course of a weekend as they try to come to grips with their ability to see dead people. They work with a professional psychic, a certified counselor, and with their parents, to learn about what they are seeing, why, and how to control it so that they no longer need to fear running into all the spirits who are hanging about. The ones that most of us do not see.
The majority of people I know would dismiss the topic of this show as so much nonsense: ghosts don't exist, all these kids have over-active imaginations, I can't see it so there must be nothing to see, there is a reasonable explanation for everything that happens to these children.
And that's a really easy attitude to have until you find yourself in the company of a child who does see something, who will not be talked out of what he or she can see, who is too young to make up some of the details that come up -or even understand them, who tells the same story consistently over and over again.
I know a little guy, three years old when this first started happening, who would flee to the nearest grown-up in terror, saying over and over again that "the big boy is coming." I never found out who or what "the big boy" was, but this child was clearly panicked whenever he saw this entity. I was there for some of these events and it always brought goose-bumps up on my arms and the back of my neck. Were there any frightening "big boys" on the children's shows he was watching? His regimen at the time was Sesame Street and Super Why, so I don't think so. Could he have been bullied at day care? Also possible, but he was in a class made up exclusively of three-year old children, none of whom were much bigger than he was, if at all, so I don't think that was the root of this. This was a child who, from babyhood, would smile and babble at something just above and behind me when I changed his diaper, who once corrected me for not saying good-night to "the boy by the [rocking] horse," who had an entire conversation with an empty chair at my mother's one afternoon, ending with "Do you want a kiss?" and kissing the side of the chair before making his way back to his toys.
I have no doubt, when I look into those great, big, beautiful blue eyes that he is talking to someone he sees as clearly as he sees me. I also do not correct him, or tell him no one is there, or make him feel as if I don't believe him. I think he has a gift and far be it from me to be the one to destroy it.
Already, some months later and now four years old, he has stopped fearing the Big Boy. But I do catch him, sometimes, clearly listening to someone I can't see or hear. But I don't disturb him. Interrupting conversations is just rude.