February 21, 2011

Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Owen is terrified of precisely everything.

I suspect that if I was to look two and a half years back in the archives I'd find a similar post about Mia. I remember her going through the same phase which started just as she hit three years old. And sure enough as soon as Owen hit the three year mark, the world became a terrifying place.

Last week, the weather broke and spring poked its head out of the cold gloom. Beth took Owen to a playground where Owen saw an ant and freaked the fuck out, demanding to be taken home. Later that night, Owen noticed that his window was cracked allowing some of the warm breeze to blow his curtains around. Again, he freaked out, even waking up in the middle of the night screaming about something coming in his window. We have now reassured him that the window is double-locked, the Force buttons are engaged preventing anything from coming in, and the force-field (the blinds) is pulled down tight as an extra layer of protection. Last night, after engaging the force-field, I showed him just how quickly I could sprint from our room to his (four, for the record).

But daddy, if you don't sleep in my bed, who will keep me safe?

And I tell him that it is my job as his father to keep him safe from the bad stuff, real or imaginary. I tell him that I will be there for him always, at the drop of a hat. That he will always be safe. That he will always be loved. That he should never be afraid. And that works to varying degrees because it is true and I think that a part of him can feel the truth in those words. And yet I've still spent at least part of every night sleeping in his bed.

If all else fails, it's a good thing he fell asleep with his light-saber next to his bed.

Posted by Chris at February 21, 2011 7:22 AM

Funny how that happens, isn't it. My one remnant from childhood sleeping, is that I keep only one foot outside of the covers, even if it is 90 degrees. You see, the sheet is my force field and keeps me protected. The one foot is fine because we all know that a force field has to have an exhaust, right?

Posted by: Maribeth at February 21, 2011 8:12 AM

This is so timely for me! I have a 3 year old who is terrified of everything at the moment. She is having daily nightmares (doh!) of giant stinkbugs (is this going on everywhere in eastern US right now?!) in her bed, and her fear and panic are SO real, it is impossible for me to force her back into the *BUG PIT* and have her screaming and kicking, truly believing that it's real. But, OY, my back is aching from spooning a 3-year old on my 6 inches of bed. (Husband is a *roomy* sleeper.)

Posted by: Sabrina at February 21, 2011 11:44 AM

My nephew is a chicken. We happened to get some life-szed cardboard cutouts of Star Wars characters for his brother and him. He got Han Solo. Nightmares and night requests have apparently gone down more than 50% with Han on guard...

Posted by: alektra at February 21, 2011 12:04 PM

Aww...a little Jedi in training. You did good, Obi-dad! :)

Posted by: oakley at February 21, 2011 12:14 PM

Tried & true remedy - get a can of air freshener, and make a "monster spray" or "safety spray" label -- whatever works for Owen. Whenever he's concerned for his safety, he can spray it and feel more secure. If he can't easily engage the spray button, try some Febreze in the trigger spray bottle. That and the light saber ought to do the trick!

Posted by: mmpotter at February 21, 2011 11:11 PM

Love it! I remember when my daughter was three, if she saw a small piece of fuzz or even a strand of her own hair floating in the tub she would freak and demand new water. Now that she just turned six it is lights, all the lights HAVE to be on, until she falls fast asleep it is.

Posted by: Shannon at February 21, 2011 11:51 PM

Oh goodie, something to look forward to in about 5 months.

This post reminds me of the John Lennon song Beautiful Boy; "The monters gone, he's on the run and your dad is here". Owen's a lucky little boy.

Posted by: Nila at February 22, 2011 12:48 AM

Just a quick word about the "monster spray" another commenter mentioned - the whole deal with this 3-year-old-kid scared-of-everything-thing is that they're scared of stuff that WON'T HAPPEN/DOESN'T EXIST; if you give him a can of "monster spray" to get rid of the monsters, you're validating his fears, acknowledging that they're a real possibility and you thus run the risk of making things worse...
I think what you're doing - reassuring with words - is just fine.
This, too, shall pass (my never-wanted-to-sleep daughter will be 7 in a couple of months and was like this too, but it stopped eventually, even though I always, always refused to share a bed with her).

Posted by: Kirsty at February 22, 2011 5:21 PM

Sounds like you're doing the right things. Hang in there!

Posted by: Heather at February 22, 2011 11:27 PM

he monsters, you're validating his fears, acknowledging that they're a real possibility and you thus run the risk of making things worse...
I think what you're doing - reassuring with words - is just fine.

Posted by: Monster Beats sale at November 24, 2011 1:11 AM