As I like to do during beautiful days such as today, I took my daughter Violet, 18 months and my niece Evie, 15 months, for a walk this afternoon. We went on a walk because being a stay-at-home-mom/aunt can get so boring sometimes your eyes will bleed. I was having one of those days today, so away we went! I got the babes (well, technically toddlers) into the 'ol reliable double stroller and off we were. I skipped the Mississippi River Community Park, which is a block away from my house. It is a beautiful park with a nice walking trail and playground equipment, but I have dubbed it "the rape park" because it's very wooded, the river runs along side it, and there are always creepers hanging out there all the time (not on weekends though, when it's usually populated with nice families, or dads kicking around the soccer ball with their kids or whatever) so I tend to steer clear of it when I am alone or with two toddlers. So, we headed for an area I call the "neighborhoods" behind my neighborhood. This area is only a short walking path away from my house. It is an older development, the houses are mostly from the 60's and 70's, there are always people home during the day on weekdays, mostly senior citizens meticulously looking after their lawns. I like to walk back here because I feel safe, it's a fun little route and I can take a number of ways back home! One such way is through Forest Hills Cemetery.
I didn't plan on cutting through the cemetery today because I didn't think the girls would tolerate that long of a walk (last summer, when they were both still babies I could walk forever because they would usually fall asleep, now they love the birds and the wind and the trees and cars that zip by, but they also want to get out of the stroller and run around, and get antsy very easily.) I was armed with their favorite treat, Twizzlers, and two sippy cups of water, so imagine my surprise when we made it to Forest Ave. without incident. I figured if they were still content there wouldn't be any harm in taking a nice long walk through the cemetery today. I turned down the street and we got to the very edge of the cemetery....then my daughter started to wave. She waves all the time. Usually at people or animals, and rarely at nothing. I will say though, every morning we get up and open the front door to let the dog out and we do say "Hi Outside!" and wave to the still quiet neighborhood, but that is about the extent of it. As she waved I stopped the stroller and watched my niece Evie, who was happily chomping on her Twizzler, greeting no one. And she is a champ at waving at people, usually with both hands. It's not that I was afraid of who or whatever Violet was waving at, but I decided at that point maybe we shouldn't cut through the cemetery and we headed back home.
I think if I wasn't by myself with the two girls, if my husband had been with, I would have felt a little braver (okay, maybe I was a bit....afraid) and we would have gone into the cemetery but, I was already huffing and puffing from pushing a collective weight of 40 pounds and walking for a half hour, it was time to go home (any excuse, right?) So, I just said, "That's right. Hi Cemetery People." and turned the stroller around and headed for home.
Now, I am a big believer in young children being more open and sensitive to seeing ghosts and spirits. I believe it to a fault. I believe as we grow up that type of thing is either squashed in us, or that we are told so often it's not real so we believe and and we either choose not to see it, or those spirits and ghosts don't waste their time with adults who have closed minds and busy schedules. Children, like cats and dogs, are more open to seeing things that us oh-so-important-and-busy adults may not see because they are open to it. My dog is so open and inviting to just about anything or anyone who comes over to my house I don't even think he would be that much of a help if I found myself alone at night in the rape park with just him for protection. He LOOKS menacing though, so that's all that matters.
Kids are the same way. It's trust. Trust is so ingrained in children and that is why unfortunately so many of them are abused and taken advantage of. Even after I yell at my daughter for being naughty (usually because she smacked Evie in the face) and take her toy away from her, she comes running to me for hugs and comfort. When this happens my heart usually breaks and I feel terrible for yelling at her in the first place, but she does have to learn not to hit...but think of all the kids out there who are slapped or hit by a parent, and then run to that same parent for comfort. It is an unsettling thought for a cynical adult like me to have. But, it is the same theory applied to why kids see ghosts and spirits and things on other planes of existence. They don't fear it and they accept it as it is because they haven't been taught otherwise.
Here is a story: My cousin's daughter Bailey was probably about five when her and her mother were driving past a cemetery one day. Bailey asked her mom "Why are those people so happy?" Her mother said, "How do you know they are happy?" To which Bailey replied, "Because they are all smiling." Now, what kind of five year old makes that up?
When I was a child I had an imaginary friend. Her names was Cherry and she had curly red hair and lots of freckles. Lately, I have been trying to think back on Cherry, I wasn't one of those children who insists that my imaginary friend has dinner with us and her own place setting and that type of thing, I just liked to push her on our swing set and play out in the yard with her. I don't remember too much about Cherry, other than how she looks, and I kinda doubt she was a spirit, since her looks, the bright red hair and freckles, are a very common trait on my dad's side of the family. I'm sure I was just manifesting a friend out of how a few of my cousins looked.
If Violet did truly see a ghost or spirit today, I'm okay with that. And if ever there comes a time when she is a little older and she comes to me and says something like "Mommy, this old man wants to stay for dinner." and gestures to absolutely nothing, I am going to take a deep breath, try not to pee myself, and set the old man a place at our dinner table.