Nighttime became a bit of a challenge here last month when my youngest started having nightmares after she saw a clown on a sci-fi show my son and husband watch. The clown wasn’t particularly scary but for some reason, it triggered her fear and the next morning we were up very early with a scared child telling me she’d had a dream about scary clowns.
Luckily we were able to go back to sleep but then I had a vivid nightmare about a man coming into my bedroom, walking toward me and not stopping. My daughter was asleep next to me when I must have cried out and woke her up again. In the dark I heard her voice, so sweet, telling me what I tell her when I comfort her after a bad dream: “Think about kitties and puppies, Mama. They will make you happy. It’s okay.”
I thanked her and we both conked out again but right before bed that night she started to panic, remembering her dream from that morning. “I’m having those dreams again but they are day dreams,” she told me.
I knew this meant my baby girl is a lot like me and a lot like her brother – she has a very vivid and active imagination, which leads to intrusive thoughts and images. I prayed over her, rebuked that spirit of fear and we looked at photos of kittens on the internet to try to take her mind off the images.
It worked a little while but then she said the images were back. I prayed over her again and then we sang Favorite Things from The Sound of Music and watched Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins. In the end I had to turn up our old stand-by of Frank Sinatra’s album In The Wee Small Hours which is what we play when sleep is hard to come by.
My son was about the same age when the nightmare phase started. Back then I would play Diana Krall to help him sleep and for head afterwards both he and I would almost fall asleep no matter where we were when we heard Diana Krall singing. This was especially concerning while shopping in Barnes and Nobles one day. I was looking at books, Diana came on and I just wanted to find one of those plush chairs and pass up.
When the nightmares started with my son, I’d curl up with him while he cried, trying to take his mind off whatever images were playing in his mind by telling him stories about the Care Bears. Many times I would drift off in the middle of the story and he’d poke me awake and tell me I needed to finish it.
I’m wondering if Care Bears will work with my daughter as well. I can see her waking me up to finish the story in the same way her brother did.
“Mama! You fell asleep!” He’d yell, poking me awake with his little chubby finger. “You have to finish the story first!”
Luckily this time around I don’t have to stagger out of bed the next morning, no matter how many times he’d poked me awake in the night, and stagger into work. I simply have to stagger around the house helping with homeschool and cooking meals and letting our dog in and out. I’d say “and cleaning” but, I must be honest, I’m horrible at cleaning.
So far this week, the only one having weird dreams is me and some of them have been related to me trying to protect my daughter. Other dreams have been about people in my family who have already died, for some unknown reason.
Nightmares. They are certainly weird and inconvenient at times.
Do you remember those times with your children or maybe with yourself? What do you do when you wake up with nightmares? Maybe you can try to tell stories about Care Bears!