It’s one o’clock in the morning, and my daughter has just messaged me. Now, there is no way I should still be up at one o’clock in the morning, but I am balancing three overlapping sessions in my summer online job, and I’m trying to finish up something. Anything. And suddenly, my biggest concern is not that I am still up, but that she should clearly be sleeping. And she’s not.
In fact, sleep schedule has been a point of contention between her father and myself for all of the many years we have been apart. He insists that the children are on the same schedule at his house as at mine. Solid evidence proves otherwise.
“Hi,” she types, as if it’s one o’clock in the afternoon.
I hear the bell announcing the message’s delivery. I read it, and I think, What. The. Heck. “Why are you still up?” I hastily type back.
“Ok so it’s almost 1:00am and there’s this sound outside coming from the middle of the lake that sounds like a little kid saying ‘dada,’” she responds.
And here I am, a thousand miles away, wondering what I am expected to do. I choose to take the reasonable approach. “Frog?” I type. “Bird?”
In my mind, I can see her shaking her head. “So C comes into our room with a knife and a flashlight and we don’t know what to think of it.”
This sounds like a totally safe situation. “Well, if it’s in the middle of the lake, it’s somewhat far away,” I reassure her.
“It could’ve also been W sleep talking and we misheard where it was coming from,” she tells me. And with the next sentence, I know she’s not buying my reassurance. “But creepy ghost children can travel quickly,” she continues, going with the supernatural because it is, after all, the middle of the night. And the supernatural can explain anything. Truly.
“You’re right,” I type. I figure at this point, the only approach is to agree. “I didn’t think of that. Those creepy ghost children can travel very fast. Hopefully, they are only after slow, old people.” I figure I may as well have some fun with this one.
It is only a second or two before she types back, “But there are slow old people IN THIS HOUSE!!”
“Yes,” I say. “I know. They will go after the slow old people and leave you alone.”
“MAYBE. BUT MAYBE NOT.”
“I don’t know,” I finally surrender. “I can’t hear it. It is raining here, and the rain is muffling the sounds from your lake.” Because the truth is, no matter what the sound is or is not, there is nothing I can do when I am a thousand miles away.
But now, I must go to sleep wondering what is calling “dada” in the night.