My oldest grandchild, as I have mentioned frequently before, sees dead people. But he doesn't announce it all the time and he can be reluctant to talk about it. One time when he was at our house, he asked his grandfather to come to the bathroom with him while he used the facility. Jim went with him and asked, "Why do you always have to have someone in the bathroom with you?" And he answered accordingly, "Because I'm scared." Jim: "Of what?" Grandson: "The ghosts." He didn't explain it any further than that, and my husband, not having the same obsessions I do, didn't ask.
I have related the disturbing conversations about our little guy running up and jumping onto the couch with us, announcing that he was scared because "The boy is coming. The big boy."
I have related the even more disturbing conversation when he told us he was scared. I asked if he was scared of the big boy, and he said, "No. The big boy is scared, too." That was enough to freak me out, although of course I couldn't say that in front of him.
I have written about the more recent conversation when he told me the people who owned this house before us are now dead. I asked him how he knew and he said that he just knew. I think he ran into them when they came to see what we were doing to their beloved house. (We've renovated two rooms, and while that might not have been to the former owners' taste, I think they may have been pleased to know that we still love our little place.)
So now we come to this past weekend. Just a few evenings ago, as a matter of fact. Our daughter had asked us to take him overnight and we agreed. So per our usual routine, Jim got him bathed and I put him to bed, reading a bunch of books before giving him a kiss and saying goodnight. As always, he told me he was afraid to be alone and afraid for me to turn out the light. We always turn out the light but leave his door open and then turn on the overhead lights in the adjacent rooms so that he's not completely in the dark. I asked him why he was so afraid and he said that when he's alone in the dark, "the ghosts come." So I gave him the same advice my buddy Sylvia Shults gave my character Michael Penfield in Drawing Vengeance: I told him to tell the ghosts to go away, and that they should listen to him and leave him alone.
Me: Did the ghosts come last night?
Me: Did you tell them to go away?
Me: And did they go away?
This all may sound crazy to nonbelievers, but I think anything that helps this sweet, sensitive kid empower himself is a good idea. Maybe if he can learn to take on the ghosts bothering him in his own room, he'll also learn to take on the living, breathing people who might want to bother him on the bus or at school. Ghosts, bullies, anyone in his space who is unwelcome and unwanted: if he can learn to stand up to all them, then I'm for it, full-tilt boogie.