Written by Emily
My kids have moved onto nightmares and bad dreams as the reason they’re waking up at night, which is actually good for me because I was running out of medical explanations for our sleepless nights. In circles of sympathetic ears, I’ve been known to grasp at straws: “Teething. It’s definitely teething. Given the tilt of the earth’s axis combined with the barometric pressure this month, the fifth tooth on the right is probably due any minute. It’s a painful one.”
Nightmares, though, we’ve entered a whole new territory, a territory so frightening that my littles will pee themselves right out of those dreams, which adds exciting drama for all of us. And who isn’t looking for a little extra drama in the early morning hours? Am I right?!
I rarely know what has scared my cherubs because they don’t always have the words or the desire to paint the picture of their terror for me. So I cuddle them up and whisper stories in their ears. While I lean into them and they lean into me, my eyes adjust to the darkness and I scan their room.
I want to weave stories about the friendly faces, the toys like characters in Toy Story that would defend them and protect them and go to great lengths to be near them, but in the shadowy black and gray I see …
No. Not my children’s blinking eyes. Doll eyes. In the daytime those glassy eyes with lids that clink when they open and close are fun. The thick dark lashes add to their realistic charm. In the middle of the night with the darkness all around, one beam of moonlight playfully shines on the surface of those maniacal, vacant eyes.
A Flea Market Baby
The antique doll from the flea market seemed like a special treasure when the sun was shining. Memories of a simpler time played in my head as I handed it to my girl, who smiled with out-stretched arms. At night, I wonder where that baby has been. I wonder what a toy doll who’s witnessed generations of heartache is capable of.
Probably nothing, right?!
A Prayer Pillow
A dear relative tucked a precious gem in with Noah’s baby shower gifts. We kept the memento, a little pillow with the embroidered words: “Now I lay me down to sleep.” With the lights out, I’d rather not hear the child’s voice that emanates from that pillow and plays as the background chant of every scary movie trailer to every horror movie I would never see. I’d rather not think about that. It’s too adorable.
“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep…”
Barbies, Princesses, Kens: they’re so much fun for a jaunt with a daytime imagination. Huddled in the shadows, piled in a heap it’s not like they resemble horrifying remains in a horror flick or the gruesome suggestion of a twisted plot in a film noir. No. Never mind that they’re all naked.
With the lights on I’m not against tearing things up with plastic playthings. Go ahead, kids, hash it out on the field of your imagination, so those emotions don’t eat you up from the inside. No harm. No foul. Get at it. I’m sure the kids put that soldier there at the edge of the dresser facing the bed with its loaded gun. Silly kids. Who cares that these very men sought revenge against a grown man in a Stephen King short story? The little one under the pillow? He was there all along. And that one and that one and that one, too. Now, go to sleep.
Hush now, my sweets. There is nothing to be afraid of.