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Varla Ventura Headshot

The Curious Case of the Haunted Toothbrush

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It happened again. It was coming on midnight and I found myself awake and alone with my baby boy, staring at a lumpy childlike figure that seemed to be a ghost. We had been visiting a friend a good hour away, and loving hubby was driving around and around in the hopes of finding a parking spot, so baby and I had come home to an empty apartment. Or so I thought. No sooner had I closed the door and fumbled for the light, my tiny one sacked out across my stronger arm, than I had the distinct feeling I was not alone. My bedroom and the baby's room are side by side, and I was fairly certain someone was standing in the nursery. I wasn't particularly frightened at the idea -- after all my favorite hangouts are cemeteries and haunted sites -- but heretofore such supernatural happenings had been largely confined to the hallway outside of our bedrooms, so I was just a little startled to see a small shadowy figure, not unlike that of a child, standing in the middle of the room near the foot of the crib. Within seconds it was gone, and the lamp behind me flickered knowingly.

Certainly I am not the first mother to witness a ghost hovering near her baby's crib. The recent terrifying incident in North Carolina where the mother of two young children murdered them with an axe and then claimed a ghost made her do it was certainly an extreme example (though admittedly stuck in my mind at the time, this grisly disaster having come up over dinner with my friend). I maintained that it was not only an act of unforgivable abuse but that it also made all us moms-who-see-ghosts look crazy. An affront to both parenting and the paranormal.

When I saw this fleeting nurseyroom phantom, I was reminded of something that had happened when my mom, my sister, and her kids were visiting. My niece was sleeping in the same room that is now the nursery when the incident with The Haunted Toothbrush occurred. The bathroom is directly across the hall from the nursery and so when my niece, eight at the time, was awakened to the sound of her electric toothbrush going off she simply got up out of bed, lumbered over, and switched it off. Before she had pulled the covers back to settle in again, the toothbrush started up. This time, she was a little alarmed and woke her grandmother, who was sleeping in the room with her. With a little encouragement from grandma she went to turn it off for a second time. She crept back to bed just in time for it to turn itself on a third time. Wide-eyed, she bravely retrieved the toothbrush from the bathroom, marched it to the kitchen, and shut it off for the final time. By then the whole household was awake so we gathered round the table in the early morning light. When I asked my niece what had happened she kind of shrugged and said that she figured it was a ghost of a kid playing a trick on her. The toothbrush had never done this before, and hasn't done it since, though my niece has reported seeing more than one ghost in her little lifetime.

Not long after they left I was serendipitously sent a review copy of a book called Kids Who See Ghosts The book talks about our adult impulse to dismiss kids' paranormal encounters as make-believe, or react with fear to their fears. I thought about how calmly my sister listened to her daughter's description of the events, and how this encouraged her brother to talk about a voice he'd heard the day before in my hall. This led to a marathon of ghost-story swapping over breakfast. And frankly it was one of the most memorable visits they had had. Of course my sister and I, having grown up playing with Ouija boards and picnicking in graveyards, are no strangers to the strange. I certainly was not raised to fear ghosts but rather to embrace them -- a trait I hope to pass on to that sweet little babe who is currently napping in the Haunted Nursery. In freakitude, Varla

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