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A discussion with a pint-sized investigator

My grandson, age five, was over to visit this week. We sat downstairs at our pull-down desk creating a picture of an orca whale in plastic pearler beads. We were sitting on high bar stools which could swivel back and forth as we worked on this delicate operation.

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Happily occupied, or so I thought, my grandson swiveled his bar stool, turned to me, and asked me very seriously, “Do you know Goat Man?”

I almost smiled as I caught sight of his two big front teeth with spaces on either side, but all I said was,” No” to fill the space, as I wondered what was coming next

He opened his eyes wide with his impossibly long and thick eyelashes, and said, “He has big horns on the side of his head like this!” He showed me the big horns, extending his arms way up and to the side.

“Oh”, I said, “those horns do look big. Is he scary?”

“Yes, he is really, really bad”, he said.  With a quick shake of his head, he added, “He kills people.”

“So how do you know Goat Man?” I responded.

“Well, he lives in a forest in a cabin. Is there a forest here?”, he asked, looking a little anxious.

“Well, no,” I replied, “There is one, but it is a little farther away. It’s pretty safe here”.

He seemed to accept this but a little while later he looked across at me and said, “That’s a door there. Could Goat Man be behind there?”

“I don’t think so. That is the cupboard under the stairs”, I said appropriately solemn.

“Can I look in it to make sure?”, he asked.

“Ok”, I said.

He had some trouble with the latch, so I helped him open it, standing guard to make sure that everything was ok. The latch was a little sticky, and I took care that he didn’t pinch his tiny, thin fingers. I must admit that it did feel a little creepy.

He stuck his head in and said, “Oh there are just some boxes here and a hockey helmet. Are you sure there isn’t a window here that would go to that cabin in the forest? That’s where Goat Man lives, you know.”

I don’t think so”, I said shaking my head, trying not to smile.

“Can we move the boxes so that we can see better?”, he persisted.

“No, but I can give you a flashlight to see if you can see anything at the back of the boxes. I have a little one in the other room. I’ll go get it and you can use it to look in the cupboard”, I responded.

He nodded – this was a good idea.  So, I dutifully found the flashlight and showed him how to turn it on. He took the flashlight and shone it between the boxes. He stopped and gasped.

”There is blood in there, lots of blood”, he said, looking at me with big round eyes.

“Oh dear”, I said soothingly, “Let’s just close the door and wait for It to dry.”

I managed to refrain from taking a look myself for some kind of obnoxious spill and quietly closed the door.  He was happy but checked to see that the door was properly latched.  Sometime later, he had to check again.

We were interrupted as everyone came home, but he remained the keeper of the flashlight.  He sat down with us on the sofa for a few minutes, but soon he was up again.

“What’s behind that door over there? Is Goat Man in there?”, he asked almost conversationally?

“No, it’s the electrical box.”, my husband responded.

“Can I look in it?”, he asked in his straightforward way.

“Sure”, said my husband.

As he gingerly opened the door, my husband barked like a dog. Our little inspector jumped, and his older sister let out a crack of laughter. He took a breath, bravely looked into the void and said with some disappointment, “There is just vacuum cleaner hose in there.”

My husband said helpfully, “How about you look behind the door?”

He just shook his head. Not quite satisfied, he said, “I want to go into the other room.  Maybe Goat Man is in there. There’s another door over here,” he explained.

“You mean the furnace room?”, my husband asked.

He nodded and set off with his trusty flashlight.

“Oh no, don’t go in there. There’s probably water in there from the air conditioner”, my husband called out.

Dejected, our little explorer said, “Ok” in a very small, sad voice.

Unphased and unsurprised by these investigations, our daughter came to the rescue. “It’s time to tidy up and get going”, she said.

With the hustle to find all of his bits and pieces, Goat Man was forgotten, at least for now. There was no Goat Man in our house that day.

I can’t help thinking that our little man has the makings of an inspector, investigator, or auditor. First, he explained the context. He set out his hypothesis. He asked questions. He made sure to have the right tools. Go see was his moto. He was persistent, checking out different possibilities. Trust but verify certainly came into play.  Most importantly, he was able to walk away when his initial reconnaissance was over.  If he keeps it up, he could be quite good one day. Maybe even a ghost hunter, a paranormal investigator or shaman is his destiny.

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