The house that I grew up in had an upstairs bedroom that was humongous. Besides that one room, there were two other rooms that sat off to the side.
At the top of the stairs was a much smaller room that could be used as a bedroom but was primarily storage. There was also a bathroom up there (which did not work) that I would use to store things in. So, it ended up functioning like an extra closet.
When I was younger, I was terrified of the upstairs bedroom. My bedroom was always downstairs until after my sister was born. When she got old enough to need her own bedroom, my parents shipped me upstairs so that she could be across the hall from them.
Oh my gosh.
I remember my ritual for getting to bed every night to this day. Being convinced that there were monsters in the extra rooms as well as my closet (which had an access port to the attic), I would turn off my light and sprint across the room.
Leaping into my bed, I would pull all of my body completely under the covers in one swift motion. In my mind, this was sufficient protection because everybody knows monsters cannot detect life beneath a blanket.
I would even cover my head and make a little hold in the blanket to breathe out of. Of course, at some point in the night, I would work my way out of the blanket fort. I guess the monsters only checked the bed early in the night before retreating back to their hiding places.
Now, there were two other factors that played into my completely irrational fear of my bedroom. These were both the fault of my uncle who lived across the road. My parents wouldn’t let me watch scary movies but I got the chance to watch Poltergeist at my uncle’s house. If you’ve seen this movie, you’ll remember the two scenes that I am about to reference.
There was a young boy in the movie who had an upstairs bedroom and in the corner of that bedroom sat a stuffed clown doll. At one point, that stupid clown comes to life and attacks the boy after he went to bed.
Well, I also had a clown in my room and was terrified that it would come to life and attack me like it did in that movie. My mother had put the clown in my room. I’m sure she was confused about how it continued to get broken and was always stuffed into the corner of the closet. I wasn’t taking any chances.
The other scene that I am referencing here is when the tree comes through the window and attacks the young boy.
And, of course, there was also a creepy old tree right outside my bedroom window. Between the tree, the clown and my insistence that the attic was packed full of creatures, I went to bed in fear on a nightly basis.
Of course, most children do. My son insists on keeping his bedroom light on when he goes to sleep even now. Everyone’s house has monsters in it. As I got older, this fear diminished (though I still get a creepy feeling that something is following me up the stairs from our basement even today).
That upstairs room became a sanctuary for me as I entered my teenage years and the relationship with my father eroded.
Dad had a truck that was minus one muffler and you could hear it coming down the road before he was even home. When I heard his truck, I made my way upstairs.
I had a television and a Nintendo up there. I had my own phone. The window in the bathroom went right out onto the roof where I would often sit in the evenings.
It’s crazy how something that was so scary to me when I was young would become one of the safest places in my life just a few years later. Life can be weird like that.
I bet it’s pretty weird like that for our kids too.
Probably yours as well.
Maybe we should pay more attention to the places that cause fear for our children and the places that make them feel really safe. After all, children are really only as safe as they feel.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.