Saturday, September 1, 2012

There Is A Stranger Here

I work in childcare and have done for over 20 years. Occasionally, strange things have happened but the most recent has been happening for the past month.

It started with a coworker coming to me out of breath, to tell me a story of how she was just down in the sleeping room, lying next to a three year old girl, when the girl suddenly said 'I don't like that man in the mirror'. My coworker looked toward the small wall mirror, to see if there was perhaps a doll or wall picture in her view that was bothering her. But there was nothing. All that she could see, even putting her face right next to the little girl's head, was the blank light-blue wall. Meanwhile, the little girl had covered her head with her blanket. We have known this girl for almost 3 years now and she has always slept in that very same spot, and she has never made such comments before, nor has she ever seemed afraid in there.She also does not like sleeping with the blanket even close to her face, let alone covering her head. It was weird, but my coworker chalked it up to imagination and carried on rubbing her back to help her fall asleep. A few minutes later, the little girl peeked out from under her blanket and yelled quite loudly "GO AWAY" and then covered herself AND my coworker up with her blanket, making sure their faces were both totally tucked away. My coworker could barely manage to keep herself laying there 'normally' until the girl fell asleep, which is when she raced up to the room I was working in, to share the story. She didn't know what to make of it, just wanted to tell someone about it. I was not with any children at the time, just doing paperwork, so we could speak freely.

A couple of weeks later, so about 2 weeks ago, the same little girl and my coworker were again laying down getting ready to nap. My coworker had made a habit of laying between the girl and the mirror so she could not see in it anymore and freak herself out. As my coworker was laying there, she saw a shadow move behind her, reflected in the mirror, so she turned to look and see if perhaps one of the other children had tried to sneak off their sleeping mat or what, when at the exact moment, the little girl stated 'There is a stranger in here'. She then flipped the blanket up over her head again and did not move. My coworker was stunned, as she had seen the shadow, none of the children were off their mats, no other staff members were wandering around as it was their lunch break time, and I was upstairs with the older kids that no longer nap. She had to wait until after work to tell me this story, and again we did not know what to make of it.

Had the little girl been watching strange shows or movies? Had she been dreaming of something and it came back to her as she was falling asleep? What about the shadow my coworker saw? The window in that room looks out under a deck in the private yard of the building owner, and the blinds were closed tightly anyway. We have all worked in that place for 10-18 years each and do not see shadows randomly playing on the walls in that room EVER. So it was bizarre, but what can you do?

I took over a couple of days putting the little girl down for her nap and I did not see or hear anything. But after all of the kiddos were asleep, I said out loud into the room 'If anything is in here, STOP bothering this little girl.' I felt silly saying it, but also felt like I had at least tried, in case something WAS hanging around.

But then things got a little weirder and this time it involved me. The other stories I was not witness to, so I can only go by what I was told. But for the past little while, maybe a week or two, I have been annoyed at work by seeing things out of the corner of my eye. Even with the stories surrounding the little girl, and what I said in the room afterward,  I did not put two and two together when I started seeing 'things'. Just that aggravating moment where you think you see something moving at the very edge of your vision so you turn your head, and find nothing, or find the source such as a curtain blowing in the wind, or whatever. But I would turn my head and not find the source - ever. I started wondering if I was having vision problems or high blood pressure issues (I have been told that very high BP can cause people to see spots in front of their eyes). But nothing seemed amiss, aside from these brief moments of 'grey' at the very very outer corner of my side vision.

Until Monday, this week. I was washing dishes at the sink. The children were all reading books or playing with toys on the main carpet area. It was nearing the end of the day and many had already gone home. There were three staff members in the building, including myself. The other two were watching over the children. So I am washing the dishes, not really thinking of anything, just getting the job done - when I see something more clearly from the corner of my eye. I see a form that I immediately assume is a person, but it appears kind of grey, like a thicker grey you might expect from thick smoke or something similar. It appeared in my vision as a person walking from my right to left, if I was facing the 'form', and leaning forward a bit, moving fairly quickly. I still did not think much of it, but I turned my head in curiousity, just to see who it was. I completely expected to see one of my coworkers moving among the children on the rug, though I was aware that my brain could not figure out which one of them it might be, as I did not recall seeing any color like from clothing, hair, etc. Just as I am realizing this is a bit weird, my head finishes turning - and I am facing a rug with NO ONE standing on it. No staff members, not even the children (though what I saw in my side vision was very tall, with the high windows behind it anyway). My coworkers were still seated on their chairs as before. I froze and stared around me, feeling completely off-kilter and strange. I had the distinct impression as I was turning my head that I was going to see a man actually, like one of the dads, even though none had come in and would have had to walk right behind me from the door to get to the rug. My mind was spinning. It was like my brain was saying, as I was turning my head, 'I guess it must be this-coworker or that-coworker, but it looks like a guy'.

I looked back toward the sink and stared straight ahead while finishing the dishes. I was thinking 'omg what was THAT??' and trying to puzzle it out in my head. The memory of this form standing almost straight, bent a little bit forward, long arms - one ahead of the form and one behind, as if it was someone in the middle of a long striding walk, stuck in my brain like it had been burned there. I could not explain it, it made me feel very odd and woozy, and I did not tell anyone about it. It was only during this moment that my brain finally made a connection - was I seeing what this little girl had been talking about 2 and 4 weeks earlier? What was going on? I just felt WEIRD.

On Tuesday, the very next day, the form was not on my mind much. In the late afternoon I was changing a child's diaper and then washing my hands. Normal routine, every day stuff, not thinking of anything in particular. A 6 year old boy was sitting at a long table just outside the bathroom door, facing me. He was colouring with felt markers and wax crayons. All of the other children were at least 10 feet away, all younger, and playing on the carpet area. Just as I walked out of the bathroom, the boy quite loudly said 'HEY!'... like 'HEEYYYY' as a sister would say to a brother who was annoying her to death lol. But no one was around him. He was staring down at his paper and I said 'what's up?'. He looked up at me for a second but then was all spacey and weird. He said 'My name' and sounded perplexed or slightly annoyed.

I had no idea what he was talking about so I walked over to him and looked down. He had written his name on the paper earlier with white wax crayon, but had then been making little drawings in various felt marker colours. I saw right away that there was a blue marker line sketched diagonally right through the middle of his name. In his hand was the blue marker, which he had also used to draw other things on the paper earlier. I didnt think much of it, I just assumed he slipped with the marker and was annoyed at himself for going through his own name with a line about an inch or so long. I figured since he was frustrated, I would just say 'it's okay, you can write your name over here instead'. He again said 'my NAME' and was still acting strangely, slow worded, almost slurry, sounding bewildered, and had an odd look on his face. I have known this boy for over a year and a half and was not sure what to make of his actions. I decided to try a different tactic, pointing out that it was he who made the booboo, so he could fix it by writing his name in a different spot. So I said, light-heartedly, 'well, who did it?' (thinking he would say 'me' and then I could get on with showing him how to fix the error)... but instead he floored me by saying 'that MAN' , emphasizing 'man'. I froze. WTF?? But I remained calm and tried hard to sound normal and said 'what man?'. He was super spacey still and delayed answering me for several seconds,,,then said 'THAT man' but he was not pointing anywhere, he was just staring at his paper. He then said, after a couple more seconds, 'the one at the playground'. I had a weird feeling like he was making that last part up, just to fill in the space and give me some sort of answer. I do not know why I felt so strongly about that, I just did. Gut feeling? He seemed to be searching for more of an answer than 'that MAN' or 'THAT man', when I did not respond fast enough, and he came up with 'the one at the playground'. But then he lost interest and started to write his name in an open space I had indicated.

I looked up to see my coworker folding hand towels at another table. She was STARING at the boy, and was holding a cloth in mid-air, like she forgot she had it in hand. She met my eyes and I just shrugged and walked away to do other jobs. But my mind was racing... WHAT man? What kind of a weird answer was that? Why so stunned about making a booboo on the page? This boy loves to colour and draw and does it every day, and so rarely gets upset about making a mistake, I can't even think of a single time he was ever frustrated about it. My coworker was clearly shaken, perhaps thinking of previous events with the little girl, but we have not had much chance to talk about it. I told her later about seeing the weird grey form on the carpeted area, but that was all we have had time to chat about.

My mind was racing because I was thinking of all the things happening - the little girl saying 'I dont like that man in the mirror' and then 'there is a stranger in here', and then the shadowed form I saw, and now a boy who is not in that little girl's group, saying 'that man' when indicating what happened to his paper, and acting all strange about it. What is up with that?

Has something unexplained popped in for a visit to the daycare? Or has nothing really happened and we are just squishing all of the ideas together in our minds in order to try to make sense of them, like humans so often try to do? If it weren't for a few other things that have happened there in the past, I would be inclined to think it was 'nothing' and just strange co-incidences, but I cannot help feeling that something strange has happened, and whatever it is, I hope it moves on soon!

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