"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mrs. Grousso, meet Slappy.

My children are a pretty unique collection of individuals in that I've never seen a group so fascinated with the frightfully fearful and horribly haunted. They love scary stories, movies that send a chill (child appropriate of course) and haunted houses constructed out of my holiday box of decorations, all year round. Warped, I know. Not too long ago, Grant (5) who shares a room with Christian (11), came to breakfast babbling about a "Death Angel" that lives in his room at night. Being the often distracted mother that I am, I patted his head and said something like "That's nice, dear". Until an afternoon of cleaning out the boy's bedroom closet, led me to this little discovery:

All of the times I had forced a sibling to accompany Christian to take the trash out in the dark, simply vaporized in that moment of enlightenment. If you ask me, a boy who scares deserves to be scared.

I think everyone thinks their house has an invisible individual who steals socks or moves misplaced items. In the house where I grew up, we had a "Mrs. Grousso" invented by my youngest sister. Mrs. Grousso was always responsible for un-tidying the closets and losing shoes. I can recall my brother running up the stairs at lightning speed after having been sent down to check that the sliding glass door of our walk-out basement was securely locked for the night. He swore that Mrs. Grousso was after him and that he could hear her labored breathing hot on his heels. In our house, we have "Slappy":

Slappy is a very bad ventriloquist dummy characterized in one of the Goosebumps books that my children are fond of reading. These folks became seriously obsessed with his evil antics and fearsome qualities. One night, long after I had tucked myself into bed and drifted into oblivion, my bedroom door flew open. There stood the middle four children, unable to sleep because their big brother had taken them all into the bathroom to conjure "Bloody Mary" out of the bathroom mirror. Tired of this foolishness, I sleepily ushered them back upstairs, reassuring them that the Death Angel was just a mask, Bloody Mary didn't exist and Slappy liked the dark recesses of the unfinished portion of the basement. I guess a mother's word is gospel truth, even a tired mother, and so Slappy gained permanent residence in the "scary part" of the basement.

Recently, I went up the stairs for our routine nightly tuck-in. Kisses around and pillows fluffed, I listened to my two boys talk as I silently moved around the room picking up stray socks and replacing books to shelves. Christian was lamenting that every night he seemed to toss and turn to an extent that his top covers fell off the bed and he spent a portion of the night uncovered and uncomfortable. And Grant, bless his heart, wide-eyed and full of innocence explained to Christian that this happens every night because Slappy sneaks up the stairs and reaches out a hand to pull Christian's covers off of him. Ah ... payback can be a wonderful thing especially when the seed of doubt planted in the mind of an eleven-year-old by a humble five- year-old leads to a sleepless night full of apprehensive foreboding.

I'm sure I should anticipate years of therapy for these children because I refuse to refute the existence of Slappy in our basement. He and I have become friends, you see. He protected the Christmas gifts I didn't want found. He guards the confiscated Halloween candy I don't want eaten. And he allows me to make uninterrupted phone calls in his darkened abode. Slappy gives me a place of solice where others don't dare to step foot. And so I say, thank you Slappy. Now if I hear you and Mrs. Grousso conversing, that will be another story.


  1. This is AWESOME. I need to come up with a Slappy for my house. I get no privacy whatsoever, and I didn't know the solution until today. Kids....?

  2. It's our job as parents to provide a reason for therapy later in life. We figure if we are going to be blamed for everything, we might as well have fun with it now!