First words

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When my son was just two months old, I noticed an eerie behavior beginning to develop. My friends and family brushed it off, and told me I was just being post-partum-y.  All babies do strange things; it’s nothing to worry about. But as he continued to blossom from baby to toddler, I realized that my observations were accurate and that my son was in fact seeing ghosts.

Now, I know what you may be thinking: how Sixth Sense of him, right? I grew up a skeptic and have never encountered anything remotely resembling a ghost, phantom, spirit, or demon. However, I acknowledge that some people believe they are magnets for such things, and Dante appears to be one of them.

Since nobody taught my son to believe in something so appreciably absurd, I took that as cause to actually give credence to the absurdity. It began with little things, such as eye contact with empty air. As a young baby, he would interact with me with ordinary infant intensity: giggles would alternate with jumpy awe would alternate with his attention being blatantly drawn to something invisible. Everyone thought he was just being a baby, albeit a weird one. Look at his mom, after all.

But something didn’t feel right. As he got older, he began to genuinely interact with something to which my adult senses weren’t privy. He would point at empty corners, watch a boring part of the ceiling with indefatigable rigidity, and crawl around in pursuit of what I eventually began to call Mr. No No.

  • “Mr. No No wants me to tell you that he is going away for awhile. He won’t be seeing us for a long time.”
  • “Eh?”
  • “Mr. No No is not nice, honey. He would steal your pacifier if he could, and we’ve already lost plenty of those.”
  • “EE!”
  • “Mr. No No is making me question my own sanity on a daily basis. Please stop trying to talk to him.”
  • “Waah!”

Nothing worked. How could I prevent my infant son from interacting with something I couldn’t see? The ghost, or whatever you want to call it, was perfectly harmless. An elderly neighbor had passed away just before Dante began to act strange, so I’ve come to the hopeful conclusion that our ghost is just an old man who misses his own grandchildren. I don’t know why he has decided to haunt us instead of his own family, but I’m assuming ghosts are directionally challenged, so he probably just settled into our apartment out of convenience.

The once troubling ghost-baby communication soon became annoying. It was hard to get Dante to focus on eating, or sitting still for a bath. It felt as though Mr. No No, while jovial and harmless, had a penchant for mischief. He was probably the kind of grandfather who gave his grandkids candy right before bedtime, just to see what would happen.

Toys began to malfunction like crazy. Since people were still disinclined to believe my stories, they brushed off the toy phenomena as electrical malfunction.

  • “Have you changed the batteries?”
  • Of course.
  • “Is it on a weird setting? Did you turn it on and off?”
  • No. Yes.
  • “Sometimes they just do that!”
  • Great.
Photo of a ghost in a window, from a YouTube video.
Photo of a ghost in a window, from a YouTube video.

Almost all of the toys in the house became possessed. The musical ones were prone to bouts of terrible, throaty baritone. The interactive ones would simply go off by themselves, after not having been touched for days. And sometimes — this one really got me questioning my mental integrity — stuffed animals would relocate to nonsensical parts of the house.

When Dante began to walk and babble, I was torn between maternal pride and glee, and a morbid anxiety of his new mobility: what if the ghost leads my son to do something dangerous? What if Dante starts repeating creepy things in the middle of the night? He already chattered in his crib when Mr. No No came to interrupt his naps.

I eventually resigned myself to the situation, because really, what could I do? I guess we’re a ghost family now. My over zealous optimism led me to seek out families with similar situations, but none could be found. I was crushed when failed to produce any results when I searched for “clairvoyant babies”.

The real trouble came when I discovered that Mr. No No had started following us outside. I assumed that there was some kind of ghost glue that bound spirits to objects and places, but this is not correct. Ghosts go wherever they please, and ours chose to accompany us to a coffee shop one day.

After we situated ourselves in a quiet corner with iced coffee and some Cheerios (sorry, Starbucks cleaning staff), I noticed that Dante’s little toy ducky was missing. My heart began to race, because I knew our outing would be cut short without his squeaky friend to entertain him. I looked on the floor, and sure enough, it had fallen under the table. I wiped it off, and put it back in front of him. But he didn’t touch it. Dante sat agape as it scooted an inch to the right, and that was when I knew we weren’t alone.

Aside from the occasional, high-pitched “that!”, Dante hadn’t uttered his first words yet. He was eleven months old and a decent walker, so I wasn’t worried about it, although I was eager to hear what my son would have to say. I assumed something along the lines of “Mommy”, “bye-bye”, or “milk” would pop out of his mouth. I put the ducky away and tried to get Dante to focus on me as I encouraged him to say “hi, Mommy.” He watched my face with fascination, then broke his gaze and pointed wildly at something behind me. To the horror of me and everyone else in the coffee shop, he screamed with manic fervor:

“April Fool’s!”