Last night I installed a new wifi router for our home network. I bought one of those really ugly and evil looking Netgear Nighthawks. It has a LOT of lights on the front of it. Unfortunately, when we had Google Fiber installed, they wired the house on the east side, which meant the modem is in Mara’s room. That also means that the evil-looking router goes in Mara’s room since it’s connected to the modem. When we put Mara to bed last night and turned off the lights, the Nighthawk’s evil lights cast upon the walls and ceiling in a very spooky, haunted house kind of way.
I asked Mara if she was okay with the lights.
“I think it’s kind of okay. I can see my shadow monster.”
For a few years now she’s had this “thing” that resides in the corner of her ceiling, across from her bed. She’s aware of it, but she’s never really let it bother her. I’d imagine it’s just one of those things that you see as a kid. It could just be some kind of shape that’s created in the mind and you just can’t unsee it, like a one-time shadow or just a figure in the texture of the wall. We’ve always left her door open and the hallway light on when she sleeps. And she has a nightlight. The shadow monster really hasn’t been an issue, but she’ll say something about it every once in a while. We ask her if hit scares her and, invariably, she says it doesn’t.
I found a switch on the back of the Evil Nighthawk Router that lets me turn off all of the lights, so I flipped it and the spooky blinking stopped.
She was okay without the spooky haunted house lights.
Tonight, as I was driving Mara to Religious Education class, I talked to her about the “shadow monster.” At the time of the conversation, I couldn’t recall the term “shadow monster,” so I asked, “Tell me more about the thing that’s on your ceiling. What was it again that you call it?” She was very forthright and talkative about it, and reminded me that it was a shadow monster.
We talked more about it. I remember a couple years ago when she told us she was scared because it felt like something was watching her. Like a camera or an eye. Back then it made us a little scared and anxious for her. But on our car ride today, she told me that it’s a big eyeball, and his name is Stuart.
And then I asked her if she’s friends with it. “Oh, yeah.” she said. With a name like Stuart, how can you not be friends with a big eyeball that lives on your ceiling?
So I told her about a recurring dream that I used to have when I was around her age. I don’t remember having these dreams, probably because they were thirty-some-odd years ago. But I do remember my mom recounting these dreams during my formative years at inopportune times when my primary function in life was to portray myself as a badass who knew everything and had zero flaws.
I used to have nightmares about an octopus that would visit, wrap its tentacles around me and drag me into the unknown. I honestly don’t remember these dreams, but I guess I had them enough to where my mom discussed them amongst her social circles.
It was Gail Folloder, who was a long-time family friend and a mother figure in my adolescence who, with the voice of a guiding angel, simply told me to kick that octopus to the moon.
And I don’t know if it was that same night, or on a night shortly after, that I’d apparently heeded Gail’s advice, and I kicked that octopus to the moon during my final dream where he’d come to visit me once again. From the lore of my mother’s mouth, I’d permanently taken care of my octopus problem.
And Mara made the best of a shadow monster by befriending it.
So I guess the moral of the story is: Make friends with it if you can, or just kick it to the moon.