Several years ago, my daughter was having bad dreams. Totally normal, right? Right. She was seven or so, and I sat with her before she went to bed and asked her to tell me about the dream she’d been having. Regardless of our parental talents and abilities, I think most of us want to help a child who is afraid of their nightmares.
So I don’t know about you, but by the time my kids go to bed, I am done. I am a shell of a human who has been asked for snacks, snitched to, and heard the call/screech/cajole of “Mom!” so many times that my ability to respond with any sincerity has dried up. Only sleep and lots of coffee can reset me at this point. Basically, I’m asking my kiddo about her dream only to meet a minimum standard of parental engagement.
What she said made my body do that thing where it feels like your blood stops moving and your fingers suddenly get cold.
“What did you say?”
“I said there is a lady who just stands outside my window looking at me. She looks scary, like she’s covered in black paint.”
What the what? I’m floored and trying not to show it. Say something reassuring, idiot, I think. You’re scaring her.
“Does she say anything?
“No, she just watches me.”
“Is she in the house?”
“No, she’s always standing outside the window.” Always? Oh man. Keep it together, Sarah.
“Why do you think she is covered in paint?”
“Well, she’s all black and shiny. Even in her eyes and her clothes.”
Ok. I nod, smiling. Then I stop smiling because I’m afraid it’s one of those panicked, manic looking smiles. To recap: my sweet 7-year-old daughter has been having recurring dreams of a woman covered in black paint (or liquid evil) standing outside of her window and staring at her.
Yep, demonic. Toooootally demonic. A conclusion any reasonable person would make, right?
So, I did what any loving, not-overreactive parent would do. I told her that we needed to pray over her dreams. I think this made it worse.
See, at this point, my kiddo understands that in our house, prayer is used for two things: to say thanks and to ask for help for people who are hurt or sad. Or, in danger. I should say that her religious education has always been very age appropriate. It’s mostly consisted of concepts that are best explained in crafts and fun songs with hand motions.
I say a prayer before I leave the room–a very calm, very soothing, very sweetly-toned prayer. The gist of it is this: keep that evil S.O.B. away from my daughter.
The dreams eventually stopped, and I forgot about the lady covered in black paint for a while. When I started brainstorming ideas for posts on this blog, this particular chat with my daughter sprang right to the front of my mind. I am a spiritual person, and I am open to the idea that what we can see and what we have access to is not all there is. I love learning about the spiritual world–the many names of God and biblical history, spiritual warfare, the supernatural and the preternatural–and that stuff can get scary. It’s that nervousness under the thrill of the scare that draws me to supernatural horror so much more than the other subgenres.
All that to say, her dream reminded me of the idea of demonic infestation: the stuff of haunted house stories. It (or they) makes itself known but from a bit of a distance. Scary stuff! Mark chapter 5? That’s a terrifying read–something about the matter-of-fact presentation of this unholy occurrence really gets me. I will absolutely be exploring the degrees of demonic possession as this blog unfolds (unless it takes a left turn and morphs into a blog about couponing or something like that). It’s a topic I can’t get enough of. But my casual, less-than-methodic research on this topic has given me just enough knowledge to make me dangerous. Not to the demon, of course, but to my daughter.
I think I scared her more than her nightmare did.
I’d love to know what scares you most. I mostly mean what subgenre of horror, but also any fear you want to discuss. Like the fear of mayonnaise. This is a safe place.