The screaming began right around midnight.
“MOMMMMEEEEEEE!!!” It continued to gain in hysteria, growing louder and louder until a trembling child was pooled in heap upon the newly displaced dog bed.
(The dog has recently demonstrated a serious phobia of smoke alarms. I’ve recently decided to start cooking in a healthier lifestyle adoption. Kid and dog were likely going for a quid pro quo kinda thing.)
“The sharks are eating the TV on the wall,” he cried. “There are so many sharks.”
I put him back to bed.
An hour later the screams began anew.
I dozed through the following interim of soothing murmurs and “go back to beds.”
“Too dark! Too dark!” the little man shrieked. The nightlight was too dim for his liking. I think it was playing shark shadow puppets with his sleep-deprived mind.
I still remember the worst nightmare of my childhood. I’d been kidnapped by a bad guy driving a green car. It seems silly now, but it was more terrifying than any horror movie of the time. Such traumas stick with young minds.
Every hour a shivering, gasping, sweating Search would appear in my room.
“I need a hug.”
“Is it wake up time yet?”
“I need to snuggle.”
“I need water.”
The next morning neither kid wanted to get out of bed. “I’m still tired,” they moaned. I was familiar with the feeling. But they were roused with promises of snuggles after school.
At dinner, Search and Destroy waited patiently for me to burn dinner, soothe the dog after the scary smoke alarm, and then scurry about preparing a last minute PB&J.
In a strange turn of events, no one wanted to watch TV. (We’re still in an Octonaut phase; and there was great concern that the Great White Shark episode may make an appearance.)
“A bug!” declared Destroy.
“It’s crawling!” yelled Search.
“Oh yeah,” I noticed. “It’s a spider.”
Always the epitome of their father, the boys ran screaming from the room. (I killed Charlotte.)
After the typical bedtime battle, no sooner had I collapsed down onto the couch to write up the saga of night terrors in tiny people, then the telltale sound of an opening door and pitter-patter of pajamaed feet reached my ears.
“I need you to check that all the scary things are all gone,” came the solemn request.
“Of course,” I replied seriously. “Do you want me to grab some monster spray and check to see if it’s Sully or Randal?” (I had a whole bid for Mother of the Year going – some calming essential oils in a spray bottle and referring visualizations back to the well-loved Pixar movie “Monsters Inc.”)
“Mommy,” Destroy inquired timidly. “There’s no such thing as real monsters.”
“But there ARE such thing as sharks and spiders,” Search pointedly pointed out. “You come check.”
One Response to Terrors in the Night
A couple of years ago my daughter had a nightmare that a giant came into her room, kicked her out of her bed, and told her that he was going to sleep there from now on. This triggered her sleeping in our room for the next three months. Clearly, something had to change. I drew a giant with a big red “no” circle on a piece of construction paper. Every time she slept in her bed all night she earned a sticker. Five stickers and she got to pick out a toy from Target. It took her a month to earn that first toy, but she did it. We gradually increased the number of stickers (and covered that giant) until we began to “forget” how many stickers she needed and she outgrew her fear. She still occasionally has nightmares, but it’s usually less than one a month. (And I kinda miss snuggling with her at night anyway.)