Don’t Go Down There

home-alone-basement-7-copyI think my kids have an unhealthy fear of the basement.

My six-year-old is horribly afraid of being down there. Let’s be honest, he’s afraid of being alone anywhere in the house. But when I ask him to go downstairs he nearly hyperventilates.

My four-year-old is OK with going downstairs – until his older brother is around. He’ll be just find playing by himself down there while my oldest is at school, but ask him to go down after they are both home and they’ll sob uncontrollably.

I can sympathize. I don’t love the basement. I too was terrified of going into the dark downstairs when I was a child.

Sometimes my mom would ask me to go downstairs to get something. That’s when I’d make my younger brother go with me. Once I had grabbed whatever my mom wanted, I would book it up the stairs leaving my brother at the bottom crying. I figured if there was something dark and scary it could snatch him up first while I dashed away.

Sometimes when I had to go downstairs alone, I would sing at the top of my lungs in my best pop-star voice hoping that the robber/kidnapper lurking in the shadows of my basement would hear my beautiful voice and think twice before hurting me.

It all sounds so stupid now, yet at the time it helped me survive a scary trip downstairs.

My boys, however, aren’t scared of being snatched by a monster. They aren’t scared of being kidnapped by a robber. They are scared of something much worse – the furnace.

I should never have let them watch Home Alone.

I’ll admit, our old metal venting does crack and pop when the heat is on. And the furnace does roar when it is getting ready to blow hot air. But I don’t think it’s enough to terrify my two oldest children.

Recently, I was rushing to get ready for church while my 8-month-old was taking a quick morning nap. My two oldest were running around out of control (I think it has something to do with church clothes. I put them into church clothes and immediately they’re out of control).

Anyway, I told the oldest two to go downstairs. They wouldn’t. I yelled at them to go downstairs. They wouldn’t. Next thing I knew my baby was awake screaming and I had to tuck him onto my hip as I tried to slap on some make-up and twist a curling iron through a few locks of my hair.

I was furious. I knew that if my boys took their rowdy selves downstairs, I would have had much more time to get ready in peace and quiet while their baby brother slept.

When their dad got home he came up with a solution to getting them to spend more time acclimatizing to the basement. Now we have a new rule at our house – the boys can’t play or watch the Kindle unless they use it downstairs. If you read my recent post about my Electrical Breakdown, you could guess that I think this plan is brilliant.

I’m torn now, there is a lot less Kindle using going on at our house these days, but that also means my two little boys aren’t spending very much time in the basement.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to freak my kids out. I would never make them do anything to harm themselves or make themselves really uncomfortable. But I want them to spend more time down in the dungeon so they can realize nothing is going to get them – especially not the furnace.

Is that too much to ask? How can I help them not be so scared?

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