My beloved Nicholas is an oddball in many little ways. He’s obsessed with sticks, for example, and constantly brings home various examples which are then hoarded in the back yard. He’s also very attached to stones in all shapes and colours. He collected a bag of them outside the school last week, brought them home, carefully washed them all in the bathroom sink (the mess!) and then presented them the next day to the Principal, Mrs Spooner, whom I’m sure was absolutely thrilled. She’s such a lovely person; I went into her office the next morning and she had them on her desk, and said that she’d had a lovely chat with Nicholas about them. His teacher gives him a bug-watching device every couple of days, and he brings home ladybirds and ants.
He loves sharks and dinosaurs and monkeys. He also decides from time to time that he’s really afraid of certain things. A couple of weeks ago, it was bears, which probably stemmed from our trip to the lake. We sorted that out, banished all bears from the house and the general area of Saskatoon, and moved on. I think he’s inventing half the fears so that I’ll lie beside him on the bed at night until he goes to sleep.
Anyway, last night he arrived in from his room, all fidgety and antsy. “What’s the matter?”. “I’m afraid”. “Of what?” “Volcanoes”. “Volcanoes? What volcanoes?” I asked, puzzled. “The volcanoes in Canada, Mammy”. “But there aren’t any volcanoes in Canada, pet” I declared authoritatively. “Are you sure, Mammy?” “Positive!”. “Will you lie on the bed with me anyway?” “Ok”, I said and snuggled in with my back to him, reading my Kindle. Nicholas is a koala in bed. He clings on to my back, with his feet wrapped around my legs and his arm over me. It’s really hard to sneak out when he finally get asleep. Every time I move, his escape-radar goes off and he automatically tightens his grip. I am becoming an expert in stealth slithering.
“Mammy?” “Yes, Nicholas”. “I’m REALLY afraid of the volcanoes”. “There. Aren’t. Any. Volcanoes”. “Well, I think there are, Mammy, and we’ll have to go straight back to Ireland!” ” We’ll look on the Internet in the morning and see”. “Can we check now?” I gave up, shut the Kindle and turned over to glare at him. “‘I’ll go get your phone”, and off he scrambled over me, thundered down the stairs, and started looking for my phone. “What are you doing out of bed, Nicholas?” I heard from Michael. “Checking Mammy’s phone for VOLCANOES!”. O-kaaaaaaaay.
He jumped back in on top of me and I googled “Are there active volcanoes in Canada?” This is what I got:
Shit. Thank God he can’t read properly yet. “Well?” he asked hopefully. “Nope, no volcanoes in Canada”, I said confidently. “Show me where it says that, Mammy”. I “accidentally” lost the webpage. Googled “are there active volcanoes in Saskatchewan?” instead. Hmmmm. Got one of these endless articles that basically said no, but that there used to be gazillions of years ago. “Used to be” wouldn’t wash with him. “Read it to me, Mammy”. Off I went, scrolling down the article, and inserting a negative into every second sentence. “There are NO active volcanoes in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is in Canada and there are NOT any volcanoes there. There will NEVER be a volcanic eruption in Saskatoon. Sooooooo, volcanoes in Saskatchewan? There are NONE”. He was hanging on to every word.
“Now” I said, putting down the phone. “Is that all ok? Can you sleep now without worrying about volcanoes?” “Ok, Mammy” he said, adopting his koala bear pose. “Cos if there were any, we would have had to go straight back to Ireland in the morning”.
I can’t wait to see what the next night terror involves.