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The Creepy Waco Story

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Welcome to the weirdest story that I finally have permission to share. The family lore almost as freaky, at least, to me, as our old haunted house. The story I promised on Twitter in the middle of the night when I was watching that Waco miniseries. That’s right. Seventeen-year-old has given his blessing. I am allowed to tell you…

The Creepy Waco Story.

When my now seventeen-year-old turned about three, we were on an errand to the post office. He couldn’t read. He pointed to the sign warning that firearms can’t be carried in the building and said, “That means you can’t have a gun in the post office.” Since there’s a picture of a gun with a slashed red circle over it, I didn’t think it was that weird that he got the gist of it. Then he said, “It’s that way in Texas, too.”

I decided to play along. “Is it?” After all, he knew Texas existed; he had aunts and uncles who lived there.

He went on, “It was that way when I lived there a long time ago.”

“When was that?” I asked because it was keeping him from being wild in the post office.

“Oh, a long time ago,” he informed me sagely. “Like six weeks ago.”

We did our post office business and got into the car, where he continued on the subject. “If you have guns in Texas the bad guys will shoot you. I got in a shootout.”

Obviously, he’d seen a cowboy movie or something. “Well, it’s a good thing you’re okay,” I told him.

Very quietly, he said, “No, I wasn’t.”

Weird response.

After that day at the post office, all my kid could talk about was Texas. He wanted to go to Texas, where he used to live. He wanted to go to Texas, where the shootout happened. Where do you want to live when you grow up? Texas. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Texas. And not because he wanted to see the family members there. He was adamant that he wanted to go to Texas because he used to live there.

This went on for a long time. A really, really long time. Longer than six weeks. All the way into Kindergarten where at six-years-old he made a book about himself. The teacher printed out the pages. It was up to my kid to fill out the answers, with my help, and bring it back to be made into a real, bound book with laminated covers.

From the first page, things didn’t go great:

A worksheet with the answers provided in a kid's handwriting: "My hair is: blond. I weigh: 40 lbs. I am: 44" tall. I have 20 teeth." Beneath all this is a crude drawing of a naked child crying with a sad mouth.

With absolutely zero prompting, my kid drew a picture of himself, naked and crying, in this project we had to turn back in to be made into a keepsake. So, that was going to be a fun CPS visit (his teacher later told me that he’d explained it was a picture of being at the doctor’s office, where one usually gets measured and weighed).

But that was nothing compared to the disturbing thing that happened when we got to the page about vacations:

A page of the book says: A special place I'd like to visit...travel...see..." My kid has written "TEXAS" and below that has drawn a picture of a large building with a helicopter flying over it and bombs falling.“Wow,” I said when he showed me the picture. “What’s happening here?”

“That’s my house in Texas,” he said, pointing out the different floors. “That’s where only the girls live. That’s where only the boys live.”

“And…what’s the helicopter?” I asked, getting serious creepy-crawlies.

“That’s when the shoot out happened.”

The shoot out, he explained, happened when helicopters came and people shot guns into the house. There are two doors on the front of the building. This was somehow significant to him but at six-years-old he couldn’t quite articulate it so I still have no idea what he meant. There are two hash marks, one indicating a window and another a random spot on the building. Those were important, too, but again he didn’t have any input as to why. But the bottom line was, there were bad guys and helicopters and they shot and exploded his house.

“You are not going to believe what I’m about to send you!” I told Bronwyn Green over the phone. I took a photo of the drawing with my digital camera, put the SD card into my laptop, transferred the file, and emailed it to Bronwyn, all while we were still on the phone with me just saying, “Trust me, I’ll tell you after you see the picture.” Seriously, that’s how much our lives have changed in a decade. THAT was what I had to do to send someone a photo in 2008.

Bronwyn opened the file and said, “Oh…my…god.”

“What would you say that is?” I asked.

“I would say your kid drew a picture of Waco.”

I told her all the stuff he’d said about the bad guys and the fire and the shootout; she’d heard the history of his Texas obsession before. “Is it possible he heard of Waco somewhere and he’s pretending?”

But we couldn’t figure out where a Kindergartener would have just randomly stumbled over shit about Waco, especially without me noticing. It was 2008, it wasn’t really a hot topic, even though I was pretty conservative back then. And even if he had, he’d been talking about the shootout in Texas for years. Complicating the issue, he insisted that it was his house, but that he was a policeman or a sheriff. I don’t know enough about the Branch Davidians to know if there were any former law enforcement who lived there. But it started to feel real past-lifey.

I weighed the pros and cons of showing my kid any Waco pictures because what if that started a conversation that I was in no way freaking prepared to have with a six-year-old when I was just twenty-eight. I settled on showing him a picture of the complex that didn’t have evidence of the raid in any way. I said, “Hey, look at this.”

“That’s my house!” He was totally psyched. “That’s my house in Texas.”

A few months later, my husband’s cousin in San Antonio got married. Because I’d just had my second child a few months earlier, I stayed home and Mr.Jen took Child the Elder so I wouldn’t have to juggle them both. Of course, the kid was over the moon. Finally, he was going back to Texas, where he used to live before I was his mommy (another weird phrase both of my kids have flung around, weirdly)!

Now, they were nowhere near Waco. They were in San Antonio the whole time. But when they returned, my kid’s obsession with Texas was cured. He wasn’t disappointed in Texas or anything. He’d just been there. Dream realized. Bucket list complete.

When he got older, I mentioned it to him and showed him the picture he’d drawn.

He didn’t remember anything about it.

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9 Comments

  1. Cana
    Cana

    I used to work at a daycare and three is just such a prime age for saying unbelievably spooky shit. I’m not totally sold on past lives, but spending time with three year olds makes me way more of a believer.

    April 25, 2020
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  2. Tessany
    Tessany

    When I was little for like the span of three weeks I had an imaginary friend named Sally who drove a red car and lived on Big mountain. My older sister used to tease me about it like non stop. Then one day I just said she was dead. She died in a car crash and she’s dead. On the news that night, there was a woman named Sally, who crashed her red car while driving down a mountain road. Freaks the hell out of my sister to this day. Kids say weird stuff. There was actually a really funny ask reddit thread about it which got me into reading it. (https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1d2v7i/parents_of_reddit_what_is_the_creepiest_thing/)

    There was a police woman though, who was a branch davidian who died in the shoot out. She left behind three kids who were thankfully in the first wave those that Koresh allowed to leave. Just don’t take everything that happened in that miniseries as gospel, they omitted a lot of the stuff BD’s did to make them more sympathetic. (Like paddling children so hard and long that they bled for spilling a cup of milk etc.)

    April 26, 2020
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  3. Tami
    Tami

    There is a book called “Children’s Past Lives” by Carol Bowman that I used to have — I can’t find it, now — but I got it back in the 1990s while providing daycare for my sister’s first child. Madison used to be a very special kid, highly perceptive in ways that would give you goosebumps. I carried her into the circle during the Three Fires Powwow when she was only two months old. A year later, when we went back, during the opening ceremony she did this thing where she held out her hand toward the drummers, closed her eyes and tilted her head back, and stayed that way until it was over. An elder who used to do smudging before the event with water from the Grand River came over and proclaimed that she was very special, and gave her a swan feather from his hat. When I took her to Provin Nature Park, where there is a natural circle of oak trees, she said, “Magic.” I was, of course, thrilled; we come from a long line of witches and medicine folk due to our Celtic and Native American heritage, with gifts not everyone inherits but I believed my niece (who looks SO much like me, she could be my own) had received them, and I had to convince my born-again sister to not repress her in any way (she knows that this runs in the family and considers it “God-given”).

    Anyway. When Madison was 3, she was on the floor of my apartment (an older house converted into two units, survived the big flood of the Grand back in the early 1900s), in the living room, and she was squatted down and appeared to be touching something — but there was nothing there. I asked her what was going on. She said, very clearly, “My brother is dead. There’s blood.” And she was so calm about it, too. But here’s the thing: she was an only child, at that point. Well, her biological father had a son a year or so older than her but she didn’t meet him until she was an adult. I asked her his name and she said, “Michael.” We only have one “Mike” in our family (my stepbrother) but again, she had not met him by that time. She went on to say that Michael had been stabbed. I tried to do some research about the house and previous occupants, and was told by someone that they thought a guy had died there but didn’t know the details. It should be noted that Madison never talked about “Michael” and “my brother is dead” or anything else of that nature after that day. And the only thing my sister allowed her to watch was shit like Veggie Tales (she threw a fit when we got Madison a set of National Geographic for Kids videos, and Madison took to the dinosaurs with a fascination that still exists to this day; she said it “went against” what she was teaching her child, that “dinosaurs didn’t exist” — yeah, she was one of THOSE born-agains).

    These things with your son and my niece come as no surprise to me because I had this same thing happen to me, as a child. I have vivid memories of being panicked when helicopters flew over the house (I still shiver when one of the med choppers passes over going to Spectrum). I could also look at my father’s photos from Vietnam (he was USMC, two tours) and identify places and had a strong conviction that I had been there. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I was at a group past-life regression and someone I did not know went under and revealed that not only was she in Vietnam, she called out that I was there, too, and gave me my name. Oddly enough, I had a character I had created with that EXACT SAME NAME in a writing club. Furthermore, I was a Black man and I was gay — something I/he had kept secret — who always talked about running a restaurant in Chicago. My character? Was a gay Black man who ran a restaurant in Evanston with his cute white boyfriend. I had created that character when I was 19. Coincidentally, when I was a child, we went to a cookout held by one of my mother’s coworkers, a very sweet Black lady, and when it came time to leave I became hysterical because I felt like I was being taken away from my “real” family. And I have always been more masculine (I consider myself Two-Spirit), attracted to both boys and girls as early as 6 (I thought everyone was this way), and in roleplaying as a child, I was always the “dad” or “husband” or other male figure (I continue to feel more comfortable playing male characters in RPGs, etc). It should also come as no surprise that I would always dream I was a man for the longest time, and I’ve written m/m so convincing that gay men are surprised when they find out the author is a woman.

    I have since had a past-life regression to that lifetime, and I also visited The Wall in D.C. where I found my name. Who I was, died three days before I was born, here. And when I came into this world, I had the cord wrapped around my neck three times and was blue, and nearly died, but the nurses managed to save me. I do believe in the theory that our souls choose where we are going to go, and that mine saw an opportunity to come back quickly — to a child born of a fellow Marine (I/he was a PFC, killed by friendly fire from choppers after being used to draw the VC out into the open). Once I discovered all this information, a lot of things began to make sense and I have not been obsessed with them or questioning any of it. I’ve moved on.

    I think that’s what happened to your son, too. His spirit needed closure by going back to Texas. Once that was done, he could move on. I had the same feeling after going to The Wall. Seeing my name, touching it, having that connection, I was able to move forward. Yeah, I still jump at the sounds of explosions (fireworks) and as I said, helicopters flying over…but not like when I was a kid, and didn’t understand. 🙂

    April 27, 2020
    |Reply
  4. Kitty
    Kitty

    My daughter was almost three when she asked me about my sister. My sister died while I was pregnant so they never met and since I don’t have pictures on display, my parents don’t like to talk about her and we were living in another city anyway I wondered where she heard about her. I told her she had died three years earlier and… she started crying. Bawling really, and saying “It’s not fair! She was so young!”.

    That was probably the first weird thing. Often she would say things like “When you were little and I was big i always told you not to run and wait for me. ” or “I never gave you a bath when I was big.” Plus she had a funny French accent, but only when we were speaking in English, never in Italian (we’re bilingual), kind of like my mother when she speaks English, but that’s normal for her since her first language is French. And I don’t think she could have been copying her grandmother because they just never spoke English together, always Italian.

    One day she comes to me saying she found pictures she wanted to show me on a magazine, “One of Nono (how she calls her paternal grandfather) and one of Mamie (my mother)”. Well, the man was identical to MY grandfather. Moustache, grey hair, blue eyes and all. Definitely not at all like her Nono, who is Asian, black haired and clean shaven.
    The woman really looked like my mother, but in the seventies, when she had long blonde hair. Not like the brunette woman with the bowl cut she knew.

    Around that time I was reading Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World and at the end he said something about reincarnation needing serious study, of some children reporting past-life memories and something about Ian Stevenson and his researches. I bought Stevenson’s book then, Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and it was interesting to say the least.
    I did a couple of experiments with my daughter after that, like taking her to my grandparents house, which now belongs to my Aunt. She was ecstatic! Very happy that “dogs STILL lived there”. And she took to the house as if it were hers. She knew the layout, she asked about a cherry tree (which had been cut down something like 40 years before). All stuff that she shouldn’t have known about.

    We now have this sort of idea that she was my grandmother in her previous life. She sure has a lot of her mannerism, even now that she’s 11, and she definitely has her temper. She doesn’t remember anything about it and after having been to my Aunt’s house she just stopped speaking about “the strange stuff”, as her father calls it.

    April 29, 2020
    |Reply
    • Megan M.
      Megan M.

      My son says that kind of thing a lot … that he was big and I was little and he took care of me, or he’ll ask me “when do I get to be a baby again?” Like he knows for sure he’s done this all before and he’ll do it again. He’s 5 now.

      May 13, 2020
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  5. Errapel
    Errapel

    I did something similar. I was about 5 and had recurring dreams of the Tokyo subway attacks. It would have been around that time it happened. We didn’t have a TV and lived out in the countryside so didn’t see newspapers on stands (we didn’t get them ourselves). It’s entirely possible I’d seen or heard something about it I didn’t remember. But for years (as in decades) I couldn’t sleep in a room with the window closed for fear of gas.

    April 30, 2020
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  6. Maile
    Maile

    When I was very little, I told a doctor that I had 11 brothers and sisters. I had names, birthdays, and personalities. My mom says the doctor gave her a weird look. I only had one brother. Later, I learned that my paternal grandmother was one of twelve children, all except one lived to adulthood. I don’t remember any of what I said but it makes me wonder.
    Also, my cousin used to play with a little girl that only she could see.

    May 2, 2020
    |Reply
  7. Eowyn R.
    Eowyn R.

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. Once, I spent a very interesting day with a friend and her 3 year old daughter. That little girl spent all day telling us in bits and pieces about how she had been a mother with a young son, and how they lived someplace very cold, and how we had to be careful, especially at night, because of the chance of fire. Then she told us there was a fire that had killed them both. It was not like her normal behavior at all. It wasn’t like a story, or pretend. She talked like a different person, like an older person speaking through the mouth of a child. We just listened. She creeped me out that day, but her behavior didn’t surprise me TOO much, because when I was little, I told my Mother about places she said I had never been, and events she said had never happened.

    May 4, 2020
    |Reply
  8. AdAstra
    AdAstra

    Hi Jenny,
    this will be completely off topic, but I just wanted to say that I love your blog. I have forgotten how I came across it, but have been visiting for a while. I have really enjoyed reading the Jealous Hater Book Club (can’t wait for more reviews!) as your comments are not only spot on, but also hilarious. As for your blog entires, I wanted to thank you for being so open about your mental states, so sensitive to spotting abuse, shaming, misogyny, homophobia, racism and so on, and so eloquently highlighting all those issues while not messing about when stating your opinions outright. You have really helped me see those problems more clearly in my everyday life and I will forever be grateful for it! I adore your intelligence, honesty, the direct style of writing and the courage you show in the posts when you stand up for yourself and what’s right. This world would be a better place if more people could see the world the way you do. All the best for you and your family including all the furry faces 🙂
    PS. I will definitely be buying ‘Paint your own garden gnome’.

    May 10, 2020
    |Reply

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