I heard Emmett yelling for me in the middle of the night last night. He called and asked me to snuggle him. He’s 8 now and rarely wakes up during the night. It’s rarer still for him to ask me to snuggle him. I thought he just wanted to cuddle because he couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to start a bad habit so at first I said no. Then, he began to cry.
I knew that something was wrong. I told him that I was sorry he was so upset and asked him what had happened. He told me through his tears that he had a nightmare and I climbed up into his top bunk and gave him a huge hug and rubbed his back. I asked what the nightmare was about and he said he couldn’t tell me everything but part of it was a monster. He was honest to God shaking.
I stayed with him longer than normal and gave him the comfort that he needed. “It’s not real, Emmett, it was just a dream. You’re fine. You’re safe. There are no monsters. You’re ok. I’m here and you’re safe.”
Eventually his tears stopped and he calmed down. I told him that I would leave the hall light on and his door open a crack so he wouldn’t be in the dark. He nodded and turned over, grabbing his teddy bear as he did so.
What a privilege that was. I am so grateful that it was just the regular kid stuff of nightmares and monsters. I was able to calm him and tell him that it wasn’t real. He was safe.
I am so lucky that I am not a parent in that small town in Connecticut. Yesterday, their nightmares became reality. For our family today, fears still end when the sun comes up. I can tell my boys that monsters aren’t real.
Me? Right now, I’m not so sure.