The Stranger

In the spirit of not being misleading, let me first tell you that the title of today’s post does not, unfortunately, refer to the very fine 1977 Billy Joel album of the same name. Nor is it a recap of the Camus novel that tortured so many of us in high school English class as we wondered why we had to study existentialism.

Nope. Today we will instead be discussing the psychological horror story that is unfolding in my house, courtesy of my two year-old.

Just for context, I’m a complete and total wimp when it comes to scary movies/stories and anything involving the supernatural. I don’t want to hear your ghost stories and I’m always the one covering my eyes during film scenes that most 10 year-olds can handle. I regularly change the channel just to avoid movie previews that I deem too terrifying. Because I like my sleep when I can get it.

I am spooked beyond easily, to say the absolute least.

And so, when my toddler recently started talking about the stranger in his bedroom, the series of strokes that I had can best be described as consecutive and chilling.

It started about a month or two ago, when he clearly told me that there is a stranger in his room. He said it very matter-of-factly, as he gestured toward the window. My first guess was maybe we had been confusing him by using the baby monitor’s “voice of God” feature when we talk through its speaker to tell him to go to sleep. The monitor is perched right above his window, and so I was able to stave off any cardiac event on my part while convincing my husband that must be what he’s talking about.


“The stranger is in my window.”


I’d point to the monitor above the window, desperately insisting to him that must be what he means. And each time, he’d distinctly tell me that, no, it wasn’t there. It was outside the window. He’d walk over to the glass and point.


First of all, this child does not know or use the word “stranger” in any context at the age of two. It has zero usefulness in his vocabulary right now and it’s not something I’d ever heard him say before. But, for argument’s sake, let’s just say he knew the word. How in the world would he know to use it that way?

Or, this way: When, soon afterwards, on certain nights as we’d head up the stairs to his room at bedtime, he’d say, “I’m scared to go in my room. The Stranger is in there.”

Smelling salts, please.

Without fail, he would say these things when my husband was away or arriving home late from work, and so I had to play the role of the calm and rational adult who would reassure this baby that everything was fine and there was no stranger in his room. While I died four million internal deaths and drank giant glasses of wine to calm my nerves. I absolutely deserve complete recognition from the Academy for my performance as an un-terrified person capable of parenting under duress in a leading role.

My husband, ever the engineer, king of due diligence and keeper of rational thinking, decided that hysteria wasn’t the answer and clearly there had to be a reasonable explanation. After his analysis, he decided that the peak above our front door created a shadow in our son’s room at night that could resemble the shape of a head. He was convinced this must be the root of The Stranger’s existence.

That’s all you got? Really? A fucking window peak that looks nothing like a head or a person or anything?

I was skeptical, to say the least. But with a clear lack of alternative explanations and a dwindling white wine supply, I was willing to buy into it to save my sanity.

Until last week.

“Mommy, The Stranger was talking to me in my room.”


External reply: “What, now, honey? Who was talking to you? And where?”

Him: “The Stranger was talking to me.” {gestures to window as I try not to pass out}

Look, my house was built in 1909. Don’t think that, in my ongoing and perpetual terror of all things otherworldly, it never crossed my mind that a house with some age under its beams could have some ghostly factor to it. And trust me when I tell you, if it existed, I would have heard/seen/felt/fallen prey to it by now. Because I am that afraid and paranoid of this shit. Yes, it creaks and makes weird noises at inopportune hours, but I can honestly say that I never got a creepy vibe in the six years we’ve lived here. My daughter had this room as her own for a few years before her brother arrived and there was none of this nonsense. But now, my adorable and innocent little ghost whisperer is freaking me the hell out.

My husband did another in-room analysis and concluded that The Stranger talking was really the hissing radiator in the night. Ummm, OK? Maybe? I’ll go with that for now, because I don’t really want to start taking blood pressure meds in my 40s. But do you think I’m sold? Do you think a little hissing heater really makes sense when my boy’s sweet face looks me dead in the eye and just tells me like it’s a textbook fact that someone is fucking talking to him in the night? I don’t know, guys.

So, what’s a terrified mom to do?

Our house isn’t covered for arson, so Plan A is out. I would move him, but we don’t have any spare bedrooms, so that’s not working either.

He’s not crying or distressed by this. Apart from a few passing references to being scared of The Stranger, it really seems like a very minor thing to him. As opposed to, say, the supernatural cloud of doom/potential future Lifetime movie that it is to me.

And, to be clear, I do not want your “my toddler-also-sees/hears-a-ghost” stories in the comments here, unless it’s all happy and your ghost is now helping with the laundry and groceries. I’m not looking for evidence that some fucked up shit is happening here. I don’t want supernatural solidarity. If you are my friends, like I hope you are, you will comment only with an alternate and plausible explanation of my son’s claims that is rooted in this world. You will not reference Poltergeist or The Sixth Sense, or any other film with children and spirits. Consider yourselves part of Team Denial. Please and thank you.

In the meantime, I’ll be here with my giant wine glass, combing the Internet for a new house or an exorcist.






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  1. Kerry says:

    Okay, not to freak you out more but I just read a tory about a family getting their baby monitor hacked. And the creep was talking to the kid. Check it.

    • fordeville says:

      Yes, we saw that article. Our monitor is not connected to wi-fi so I don’t think that’s it. Interference from someone on the same frequency? Maybe. But it doesn’t explain what he says he’s seeing.

  2. Maybe ask what the stranger said the next time he brings it up. Give him paper and crayons and have him draw the stranger. I know his artistic skills at that age aren’t going to produce a police sketch, but maybe it will give you some ideas. Tell him to tell the stranger to go bye bye because he has to sleep.

    We had some odd disturbances after my son was born. I chose to believe, for my sanity, that the dearly departed were paying a friendly visit. I do remember one afternoon when every electronic toy (all switched to the off position) suddenly started doing their thing. And I know this is going to sound crazy, but chalk it up to new mom hormones…I actually jumped off the couch and screamed, “Okay, you can visit in the day, but don’t do this sh$@ to me at night.”

    By the way, though I haven’t blogged in ages, I still follow you. Your posts always bring a chuckle into my day. Hope all is well, other than the haunting. 😉

  3. Lissa R. says:

    That’s some scary shit right there…. Also, blackout curtains NOW!

  4. He has floaters, natural proteins in his eyes, which he only sees when looking in the direction of the window because of some light thing that happens there. And the radiator sounds. So there is your “Stranger.”

    (did that sound legit at all?)

  5. Missy says:

    There is a face on your curtain. I keep thinking that if I look away and then look back it will be gone, but it’s always the first thing I see. Probably just the pattern. Maybe he is just more sensitive to things. It all freaks me out too.

  6. Meredith says:

    I am DYING over the humor with which you report this. Godspeed, mama!

  7. alexandra says:

    It has to be the baby monitor. Has to be.

  8. Cindy Carr says:

    Yikes! The 1st blog of yours I read and now I am freaking out at the potential little Lorraine Warren I could have sleeping in her bassinett next to me! Nothing scarier than the whole notion of kids being more attuned to the supernatural world! I hear CO is lovely this time of year 😉

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