"Daaaadee ..." A quavery little voice in the middle of the
night: "Daddy ..."
Bruce, aged four-and-a-half, was not asleep. And now neither was his father.
I stuck my head into his room and said, "What is it?" I was thinking, "You had a drink. You went to the toilet. Now what?"
"There's somebody here that doesn't like me."
"Over there, in the corner."
I didn't see anyone. I didn't want to see anyone. "It's probably just an old friend."
"No, this one's different. He doesn't like me."
I was suddenly awake. If I said it was just his imagination, I would leave him alone with his fear. If I was afraid, I would strengthen his fear. So I attacked.
"Look, you," I said to the corner of the room, "This kid belongs to me. You're not to bother him. If you've got to bug somebody, talk to me, but leave the kid alone."
"Okay?" I said to Bruce.
I went back to my room and lay staring into the darkness with my goose-bumps on parade, but no unfriendly ghosts came to talk to me.
After awhile I heard Bruce's voice say, in no uncertain terms, "My daddy says you're not to bother me! If you gotta bug somebody, go talk to him!"
My goose-bumps did a few interesting maneuvers, but the ghost didn't show. When I looked in on Bruce again, he was sound asleep, smiling a little smile.
"Good," I said to myself as I went back to bed, "That's what daddies are for."