Julia knew she was smart. She was one of those clever children, the kind of child who figures out early on that parents aren’t all-powerful and all-knowing.
The first time she realized this was when she got scared. There had been a noise in her room, coming from under her bed, or from the closet.
Julia ran down the hall, crying, “Mommy! Daddy!”
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I huh-heard a m-monster,” Julia glubbed.
She expected them to comfort her, or roll their eyes, or get annoyed.
Instead, they jumped up immediately and raced to her bedroom, where they checked under the bed, inspected the closet, and tested the window lock. They poked, prodded, and scoured every inch.
Julia caught on quickly. She knew what they were doing. By taking her fears seriously, they were showing their little girl that she was safe and loved.
They had probably read about it in some book.
But the lesson Julia learned was that she had power. Thereafter, waking her parents became a nightly event.
Julia would scream and cry, they would rush to her bedroom, and Julia would hide her grin behind tears. But not once did they ever complain.
One night she could stand it no longer, and she burst out laughing when Daddy fell down while examining the light fixture, as if a monster could fit up there.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, rubbing his backside.
“You,” Julia smirked. “You always believe me.”
Daddy wasn’t angry. He just looked at Mommy.
“Once,” he said quietly, “just once, we didn’t believe your brother.” And Julia, an only child, did not sleep well that night.