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The would-be intruder

January 26, 2009

by Jen Bakken

Imagine – your children are asleep, you are lying in bed reading. It’s late and, even though you have to get up for work in the morning, you just cannot put your book down.

Captivated by the suspenseful story, you can’t wait to turn the page, and you fight to keep your eyes open.

The main character is someone you relate to. You can literally picture yourself in her shoes.

Though you know it is a fictional story, you can’t help but feel the sense of danger she is in, fear for her life, and wonder who will come to her rescue.

A few times you hear noises and, because the author has reeled you in perfectly, you can’t help but look around and feel on edge. Lost in the story, you wonder if you could be as brave as the heroic main character.

Though you are yawning so much your eyes are watering, page after page and chapter after chapter, you continue reading.

Suddenly, you feel as though someone is looking at you and quickly turn towards the bedroom door.

There standing in the doorway is a six-foot-tall man wearing a stocking cap. Though there is a small reading lamp on, the shadows make it difficult to see the face of your intruder.

It’s nearly impossible to pull yourself out of the suspenseful story you’ve been enveloped in all evening.

For a moment, this man takes on the same build and stance of the wicked villain in your book. The scream that escapes your mouth is deafening, even to your own ears.

A deep voice speaks to you, but the fear prevents you from immediate comprehension.

“Mom! It’s just me!”

It seems as though an eternity has passed by while you realize you are not being threatened like the character you’ve been engrossed with.

Finally, it registers. It’s your 18-year-old son, unexpectedly home from college at 2 a.m.

Though he apologizes and explains he just wanted to surprise you, at a glance, you are visibly shaken.

The would-be intruder feels so bad he hugs you. Your other children are now awake, trying to figure out what is going on.

Once all are back in bed, you lay there, eyes wide open, feeling as though you may hyper- ventilate.

The book remains on the floor where you dropped it in sheer terror. Realizing you would do little more to protect yourself other than scream, you can no longer relate to the brave main character.

Besides, you are simply just too shook up to read any further. Next thing you know, the alarm is blaring, announcing it’s time to wake up.

Though you never slept a wink, you manage to make it to work. Throughout the day, you are reminded of the 2 a.m. scare.

Remembering the multiple moments your children have frightened you causes you to think they take particular joy in it.

Like the time your son was waiting in the garage, crouched down behind the car, ready to pounce on you.

Or the time your daughter was hiding in the closet and as you opened the door, yelled “Boo!” then giggled uncontrollably.

And one cannot forget the time, as you stepped in the hallway, when a Nerf dart gun sends little sponge darts all over you before you knew what was happening.

Add all these up, and one ends up an extremely jumpy mom. Apparently, the suspense novels should be set aside – no need for the villains and suspects on the pages to bring fear into your world, just leave it to your children.