Platypup has a longtime fear of the dark that waxes and wanes circumstantially. Since we returned home from our evacuation, it’s been steadily increasing — compounded by being stuck inside an unusual amount and by acquiring a new fear of zombies.
(I am unfortunately partially responsible for inducing fear of zombies; after conversing with friends, Platypup decided he would like to be one for Halloween without an inkling of what a zombie is. I talked it over with him on and off for several days and finally pulled up a page of fairly tame zombie costumes on Amazon so he could get some sense of what he was expressing interest in being. Scarred. For. Life. Thanks, Mom.)
So lately he’s been reluctant to go anywhere in the house alone or fall asleep without a parent, and all attempts that involve reason, cajoling, or exasperation have failed.
Enter monster spray.
It’s not a novel concept — Pinterest is a black hole of monster spray recipes, printable labels, even a pharmacy prescription. But it’s new to us, and I had no idea whether it would work on Platypup.
I announced our plan to the kids shortly before bedtime, and they watched with eager anticipation as I produced a spritely little yellow and purple glass spray bottle, added five drops each of Lavender, Juniper Berry, and Wild Orange essential oils, and filled the rest with water.
I screwed the top on firmly and then held it out, asking everyone to touch the bottle together, close our eyes, and infuse every bit of the contents with monster repellent, love, and happiness.
When we opened our eyes, Platypup examined his new tool for a moment and then walked off into the shadowy hallway, spraying periodically, fears firmly in cross hairs. Bedtime went as smoothly as it used to, before the fires.
Platypup is not the only one in our community who is afraid of shadows. Evacuees, roused from bed, report waking, hearts racing, at that same time each night since — assuming they managed to get to sleep in the first place. Everyone knows someone whose home vanished in the dark. No one knows if the air they are breathing, the ground they are touching is safe or poison. Voices are threaded with gratitude and grief, stripped down to the core of what truly matters, with an undercurrent of panic. Most of our city packed a bag and braced to lose everything that didn’t fit in it. Uneasiness crackles in the air.
We inevitably turn to our spirituality, our loved ones, our hobbies, and our vices for a talisman against the dark, a banishing spell for monstrous fears.
My monster spray would usually be to go out into the garden at night and feel the earth, the cool air, the pull of moon and stars. Right now that seems advised against; no one knows for how long. Making music, yoga, dancing, celebrating Samhain with my local Reclaiming cell, writing, hygge-ing with my family, swapping stories with my friends, teaching and lesson planning… these things are bringing me solace and rhythm. But without my bare feet sinking into soil, awakening the scents of lemon balm, thyme, and peppermint, I remain ever so slightly off-kilter.