Things that go bump in the night often send hairs on the back of the neck soaring.
Generally there's nothing ever to worry about, except getting back to sleep.
But that's the thing with fear of the dark. Real or imagined - it's still fear. And in the mind of a child it can be amplified, because you know, they see dead people.
Thoughts turned to this subject recently discussing freaky family childhood moments.
There was that time my eldest, then quite young, let off a banshee cry summoning dad to her room to investigate "the thing" in her cupboard that was triggering palpable terror.
In her Dad as it turned out, who was struggling to get over his own phobias heading down the darkened hall to her room, without wimpering.
Opening that cupboard, he was no less convinced than his five-year-old that there mightn't be a shapeshifter inside. But you try not to let on.
He still wasn't ruling it out even when the big reveal didn't reveal anything except clothes hangers and dooners. Because that's what shape shifters do. They shift. Possibly under the bed, which we then had to inspect too. Or into a third dimension behind the wardrobe (damn you Narnia!)
It seems being afraid of the dark is something genetic, passed down through timid bloodlines, the result of an overactive imagination and a chromosomal inability to hold your water. That's usually according to people who order you to get up and go investigate "those noises" they just heard. And you probably heard it too.
That's why I have a baseball bat near the bed, "Old Slugger"; just in case I have to come out swinging against demons.
It's hard to let go of old hang-ups, and at that stage of the conversation, my youngest recalled how she used to complain regularly of a menacing kangaroo under her bed. An apprehension I was summoned to inspect and dispel a couple of times. But not without trauma because as absurd as it seems, the vehemence with which she used to assure me of the phantom boomer really made it hard to rule out. Particularly with the vibe at two in the morning - usually ala Amityville, with the hum of the power lines outside, the ethereal glow of the streetlights, the child levitating above the bed.
Red Rum. Here's Johnny. What's Up Skip? They were all catchcries that sprang to mind crouching down for a peek. But no. Everything was always OK.
Until the youngest left us with the spookiest recollection of all, and one quite apt to conclude a column like this. Of how she once heard a tapping on the window. And how it hadn't been daddy trying to get into the house having forgetten his keys.
When she'd summoned the courage to look out the window she said she'd seen a man, who'd put his hands to his lips and motioned "shhh".
We were stunned by the revelation, real or imagined, and demanded why she hadn't ever told us. Too scared, she replied.
Tell you what. That one got the hairs standing to attention.