The Silverobe children discover just HOW odd their household really is
|The Silverobe children were beginning to suspect that there was something odd about their family...and that their parents might, just might, be keeping a HUGE secret from them.
This wasn't in the way that EVERY child under 14 thinks their parents are keeping secrets. The Silverobe children were well aware that there were some odd things going on around their household. Things that their parents avoided questions about, or changed the subject when they were brought up.
As most children do, they had thought things in their household were perfectly normal, until they went to school and the other children, and even the adults, convinced them that maybe, just MAYBE, it was THEIR household that was odd.
Chris, the oldest, had been the first to learn to keep quiet about certain things. On his first day of school, some children had been discussing the boogeyman, and ways to combat him. Chris hadn't understood why anyone would WANT to combat such a nice old boy, and had explained that the boogeyman was a nice sort, who absolutely LOVED children, and was, in fact, his favorite babysitter.
He didn't understand at all why the other kids had started singing that nasty song about his pants being on fire, and was flatly hurt when his teacher smiled, and told him what a wonderfully active imagination he had, when he went to her to have his bruised feelings soothed.
Shortly, he learned not to speak first, in groups of children, and only to speak when his experience led him to agree with the most commonly held beliefs expressed by the other kids...things like how great it was to splash in mud puddles, and how unreasonable adults were on the subjects of such undoubtedly poisonous things as brussles sprouts.
Jennifer, when she started school the following year, had discovered that, while the CHILDREN would happily believe her when she talked about the topiary animals in the front yard changing position during the night, if she allowed an adult to hear of such things, she would miss recess while having the school counselor ask some rather insulting questions about her "home situation".
Brad discovered, on the following year, that the absolute extreme of shocked reactions could be pulled from kids, teachers, and scholastic adults alike, simply by stating that there was not ONE television in their house.
They all learned their respective lessons about talking about their household well before the subjects of closet or bed monsters came up, and were quite clever enough to realize that they shouldn't discuss things like the habits of their dog, Aluicious, around the time of the full moon (though discussing the tricks he could do was quite acceptable, so long as they left out such facts as THEIR dog couldn't "play dead" without, at absolute minimum, some pantomimed props, and 5 minutes of melodramatic gasping, wheezing, and stumbling about).
There were some other things that never managed to work their way into the children's conversations outside the house, as well...little things.
Like the "action figures" that were above and beyond those of any toy their school chums owned. Jenny's "Ballroom Belle" dolls that would, without benefit of any moving plastic stage, dance anything from a classic waltz to the jitterbug on her dresser, or the bedroom floor, if the approipriate music was played. The boys were regularly punished for the destruction caused by their playing of "Army Men" in the living room...which was completely unfair, in their opinion....how was it the general's fault if a miscalculation on the part of a flame-thrower-wielding toy soldier resulted in the total loss of the sofa? Chris hadn't TOLD the soldier to flame the sofa, and, besides, it had been unfair of Brad to defend the contested high ground of the coffee table by ordering his snipers to conceal themselves in the fringe of the end table doilies.
Also, they discovered that their facility in such card games as poker was as disapproved of at school, as it was by Mother. Boy, had she been mad, when she caught them playing for toothpicks. When she dragged the fact out of them that they had been taught to play by Rrargh (the monster who resided, sometimes, in the closet in the boys' room), she had grounded them all for a week, AND had had Daddy remove the closet door for the same period, and install a sun lamp on the closet shelf that turned on if anything in the closet moved, so that Rrargh had been forced to stay away throughout the grounding.
She approved of Untl, Eegh, and Brrowr, though (the monsters under the beds), who only played checkers (though Untl would sometimes try to cheat...but the children never mentioned this to Mother, not wanting to have him declared a "bad influence").
As I have said, there were things they now KNEW were just too strange to discuss with people outside their home, and their parents just seemed to have no interest in talking about with them.
They weren't the only kids to have both a cat AND a dog...but they, as far as they could tell, WERE, the only ones with one pet that was both, even if it was only by the light of the full moon that small, scruffy, and brightly friendly Aluicious-the-dog turned into the large, scarred, evil tempered and evil smelling Samminus (Sammy) the tomcat, terror of all the neighborhood dogs when he got out. And, incidentally, possessor (or companion) of a smell that had a personality all of its own (the smell had been known to preceed Sammy into a room by a good five minutes, and to fail to leave for a good half hour after Sammy himself had departed the area). This might partially explain Aluicious's tendancy to hide under beds at night around the full moon, forcing the bed monsters to double up for a night or two a month.
Aluicious seemed to regard a litterbox as a great indignity, for one thing (all dogs are a bit conservative, and feel natural functions should take place near a tree or fire hydrant). For another thing, he seemed to resent the lingering scent of Samminus in his doggy bed (not to mention the wear and tear the cat's claws always put the tartan bedcover through).
However strange it might have been, in the eyes of others, home, for the Silverobe children, was home. They kind of figured their home was about normal for happiness, and love, and all that mess, even if it WAS a bit....different...from what they heard about at school, or saw when they went visiting. They didn't often encourage others to come to THEIR house, though, as their toys wouldn't HELP anyone play with them if a friend from school was involved in the game, and the monsters stubbornly refused to show themselves, even if the curtains were drawn, and all the lights were out...the bed monsters couldn't even be tempted with the "dangle a leg over the edge of the bed and snatch the tempting ankle back just before they could grab it" game, when there was a guest present. This was much to Jennifer's dissappointment, as this was, undoubtedly, her favorite game, often prompting shouts of "Stop teasing the bed monster and go to SLEEP" from downstairs, when she couldn't suppress her giggles well enough at night.
And they wouldn't have parted with their favorite boogey-babysitter for any mere teenage girl, no matter how lax in discipline or attention to the clock she was, as no teenage girl could be as good at hide-and-seek as a creature that could melt into shadows, or turn himself into a semblance of a pile of discarded clothing and toys. Not to mention the fact that there was a clear lack of interest from most teenage girls in giving oozing demonstrations, drooling seminars, and performing such parlor tricks as bulging their eyeballs completely out of the sockets in the face that normally contained them. For some odd reason, teenage girls seem more interested in talking on the phone with various other teenagers, raiding the fridge for whatever sweets were present (never enough, in the childrens' collective opinon), or worrying about what shows they were missing on the never-present television.
In some ways, in fact, they were quite comfortably sure that their parents were better than most adults, since THEIR Mother and Daddy had never tried to convince them of the supposedly imaginary status of such obviously real things as their friends, the bed monsters, closet monsters, and boogeymen. EVERY child knew such creatures existed, yet MOST adults seemed to spend great amounts of time and effort trying to convince them that this wasn't true. Not Mummy and Daddy, though. Mummy and Daddy had introduced them by name to their monster friends, as soon as the children had demonstrated that they could be trusted to use proper "eddy-quit" (this is to say, when the children respectively showed they could be trusted to say "how do you do, Mr Rrargh?", when introduced to the monster, instead of screaming, and turning on the lights, which not only banished the monster in question into his camoflage state, but, according to the monsters, hurt like a bad sunburn for hours afterwards).