The scary world of a little Girl's Imagination
"MOM, help me." She yelled as a part stutter and part high pitched whine.
A woman in her mid-thirties bolted up the basement stairs. Wearing jeans and a sweatshirt with her face construed in an exasperated expression showing the weariness of the average parent. Concern for the current drama was evident but so too were the many things of an everyday life with kids that manage to weigh you down. She inhaled before she spoke in an effort to not let the child know that her concerns were minimal. That is what good parents do or so they tell you in all of the parenting books.
"Alexa, what is the matter?" she spoke while hugging the terrified child. She brushed the strands of drooping hair away from the girls face. Mom then placed her hand on the little girl's chin directing her eyes to meet hers. It had a calming effect on the little girl bringing the loud sobs to an end.
"Now, please tell me what is after you?" the mother with the bright green eyes displayed sincerity while speaking in a firm and direct tone.
"Mom, those hands were grabbing me through the deck again. They kept trying to pull me under. They have long furry arms and sharp claws. Oh, mommy, I was so scared." the little girl related her story. Her face was red and swollen from both the crying and running. Her eyes were open wide in terror and her mouth formed a grimace of disgust.
"Oh, mommy it was terrible!" Alexa continued with dramatic pause dragging the word "mommy" out long and biting like nails on a chalkboard.
Lyndey, the mother of three, had experience at being the hero for her children during their night terrors the past few years. She knew that what worked for one child didn't always work for another. She spent a few seconds trying to judge the best approach for her daughter. This was a recurring event for Alexa. Lyndey could barely get the girl to step out onto the deck these days. She had used every trick in her repertoire of mom maneuvers.
Lyndey decided to replay her latest message. "Lexi, I showed you yesterday. There are baby bunnies under our deck. Remember how cute they were. Momma bunny is taking care of them under our deck. She chose our house as the perfect place to give her babies a place to live and grow until they are big enough to go out on their own."
Lexi, the little girl's nickname, was six years old and had a very vivid imagination. Stuffed animals in her closet often became monsters in the dark. She liked to believe that her bicycle had wings. In her heart, Santa Claus was a personal friend that she had conversations with during the month of December. Her imaginary friend was named Gunther, a singing, dancing puppy that did her bidding. Through the years poor Gunther had been blamed for many broken objects in the house.
"No, mommy. They weren't cute at all! This was a furry creature trying to kill me or take me away from you. Mommy, I was so scared."
"Lexi, listen to me. It was just bunnies. You are being very silly. Let me get my shoes on and I will go show you."
"No! Mommy, I can't go back out there. They will get me. "
Lyndey slipped her house shoes on while holding Lexi's hand.
"Honey, I will be with you. I would not ever let anyone get you."
With the logic of a six-year-old Lexi shouted, "But mommy they might get you too. What would Daddy, Max, and Simon do without us?"
Her mother was trying not to laugh at the drama that her daughter displayed with this statement. Lyndey said, "Come on Lexi, I think you and I are big enough to handle a bunch of bunnies. We got this, girl! "
The bold duo slid the glass door to the left, ready to face the challenge in front of them. Mom was leading the way and ready to do battle for her little girl. Actually, she just wanted to show her daughter that she did not need to be afraid. Mommy was playing the role of savior at this moment. It was evident where Lexi had inherited her love of drama.
They crept onto the deck slowly and silently. Lyndey placed a finger across her lips indicating to Lexi to remain quiet. She didn't want to scare the bunnies away before she could show Lexi what she had really seen. Mom knew that a visual display was always the best way to put an end to childhood fears.
Just as they reached the end of the deck, three little gray and two little brown bunnies scattered to the green grass of the yard. The mother bunny with patches of multicolored fur hurried to catch them. The six family members huddled in the yard waiting to see what would happen next with the newly appearing intruders to their den. Mama bunny wiggled her nose frantically trying to get a sense of the danger risk.
Lyndey started laughing which thankfully made her daughter smile.
"Look at those bunnies, Lexi. Aren't they adorable? Mama is just trying to keep her babies safe just like I keep you safe."
"Aw, they are so sweet." Lexi relented for the moment. "Can we feed them something?"
Lyndey said," I don't think we better. Their mama knows exactly what they need to eat. How about if I make us some cinnamon rolls and we eat out on the deck so we can watch them play "
Lexi shrugged her shoulders in a noncommittal motion. She stared at the bunnies without saying anything for a moment. You could almost see the gears of movement in her head. She was thinking long and hard about the events of the past few moments. Finally, she spoke.
"Mom, I don't want to scare you but those bunnies are not what tried to get me. There is something else that lives under our deck. It is something very scary and not nice. Even Gunther saw them. He was so scared he ran and hid under my bed. He still hasn't come out." Lexi delivered the news to her mother with all the seriousness her little body could muster.
The very weary mothers first thought was,"Damn, I thought I had her convinced." The second thought was," Now, what?"
Lexi drew in a deep breath and started her story again. "Mom, they were big and furry with big teeth and long claws. Their arms kept growing longer every time they reached for me. I almost didn't make it inside the house back to you. Their eyes covered their whole face except for those scary teeth. I was so scared. Please believe me, mommy. They are still under our deck and it is not safe out here for anyone."
Mom decided to try another method to calm her daughter. "Lexi, Why don't we go inside and you draw me a picture of what you saw. Then we can have Daddy take a look under the deck. He will have your picture to help him so he knows what to look for. You know sort of like the wanted posters the police use to find the bad guy."
Skeptical, but eager to go inside the little girl agreed.
Once inside, mom cleared a place on the table for the little girl to draw. She lined up crayons, colored pencils, and markers. She rolled out the butcher paper that Lexi always used when she was feeling creative.
Lexi sat in the artist's seat and commenced with her work. Lyndey watched the child pour herself into the drawing. She had always heard that art therapy helped children release the fears that they carried. Mom was hoping against hope that it would work for Lexi. Her boys had never shown such intense fears and Lyndey was starting to worry about her baby.
Lexi spent almost an hour drawing her monster portrait. She recreated every part of the scene that she could remember. Lyndey watched in awe as the girl drew with a fervor unusual for a six-year-old. These weren't just childhood scribblings; they were wild works of energetic concentration. There were three large monsters made of fur, just like Lexi had described. The eyes were dark red shooting out yellow beams of fire. Lexi had drawn the claws to resemble those of an eagle's talon, able to rip it's prey apart. The arms elongated, reached dangerously close to the little girl.
Lexi stuck her tongue out of the side of her mouth each time she added a new detail. She added bright colors for emphasis and background scenery of the yard, making it almost a 3-dimensional painting. In the center of her drawing, Lexi had placed herself. There she was with the bright blonde braids, red sweatsuit, and blue Nikes. She managed to capture the fear that she had felt with the tears streaming down her face. Pictured next to Lexi was a floppy little brown dog with long floppy ears running just as fast as the scared little girl.
The loving mother was blown away by the drawing. She wasn't quite sure what to say to Lexi. The artwork was amazing but she was now very worried about what had happened to her daughter to make her monsters so real.
"Lexi, who is this?" the mother pointed to the puppy in the picture.
"That is Gunther, Mommy. You know, my friend." The child answered casually as if everyone knew Gunther.
Lyndey could not take her eyes off of the monsters in the drawing. They scared her, so of course, they would scare a child. Her job as a mother now was to distract Lexi. She would have a long discussion with her husband about the drawing later. She would get his feelings on the best way to help their daughter.
"Lexi, why don't we put this away for now. We will sit down and snuggle on the couch to watch a funny cartoon. We can show daddy your picture later. I think we need a little comedy in our lives right now to make us feel better. What do you think?'
Looking up at mother Lexi nodded. "But would you help me get Gunther out from under my bed first?'
"Sure." The mother answered. Lyndey was not quite sure it was a good idea to encourage her daughter's belief in the imaginary friend under the circumstances. Where was Dr. Spock when you really needed him? She decided to go with the flow, taking clues from Lexi. Hopefully, her daughter could tell her what was really bothering her.
The pair retreated to dainty, floral bedroom in search of Gunther. Lexi kneeled on the floor calling the imaginary pet. She offered imaginary treats and play toys. She bribed and cajoled the fictional pup. She pleaded in her high pitched voice.
Standing in the doorway of the bedroom Mom watched intently. She was curious what the reaction of her daughter would be when the fake canine made an appearance or didn't make one. Lexi was writing the script from her imagination.
After a few minutes of watching her daughter plead with the nonexistent pup, Lyndey said,"Lexi, maybe Gunther will come out later. Why don't you and I go watch our show?"
"No, Mom not yet. I don't want to leave without Gunther. It will make him feel better to watch the cartoon with us. He will be out soon. See, he is starting to come out now."
Right before Lyndey's eyes, a floppy dust-mop of a dog with long floppy ears scurried from under the bed and down the hall. The astonished mother scooted to the side to let the made-up creature pass through the doorway. Startled, her mouth hung agape. In one quick move, she scooped Lexi in her arms while chasing after the brown tangled mutt.
"Gerald, get down here now! We need you!" The woman screamed for her husband.
The chase for the dog ended right in front of the sliding glass door leading to the deck. Through the glass, mom could see the furry monsters with claws, long arms, and fiery eyes standing at the door.Lexi's artwork had come for a visit.
She screamed loud and long for her husband. The room echoed her screams but all she could hear were the words of her daughter.
"See, Mom. I told you they were scary!."
word count 2,147