When I heard the first whisper, my eyelids fluttered open to reveal nothing but darkness. They quickly fell closed only to pop open seconds later when I heard the second more highly pitched whisper. The words were garbled, but the desperation was distinct. Again, seeing nothing but darkness I dared a glance at my bedside clock–3:52 a.m.
I was wide wake now, and at the third eery whisper from the shadows, my thoughts went immediately to the trailer for the movie The Devil Inside that played during every commercial break for Teen Mom 2 last night. A chill raced straight up my spine.
I was just about to kick The Hubs awake for replaying those exorcism commercials over and over instead of letting me watch the mindless pleasure of teenage pregnancy, when I heard it clearly. The tiny, ghostly whisper, “Mommy?”
It took me only seconds to discard the theory that my youngest child was possessed by a demon and remember the events that preceded last night’s viewing of Teen Mom. The Young One, it appears, is afraid of the dark. Only after repeated promises to leave the hall light on was I allowed to leave her room following the gruelingly long bedtime ritual. As I departed, I uttered the fateful words, “If you get scared in the night, you come find me.” Apparently, she had. I just couldn’t see her.
After groping in the darkness for several more seconds, I finally made contact with the fleece of her blanket sleeper, and we made our way back to her room. A re-start of her Baby Einstein lullaby CD, and all was right with the world again.
With a clearer head this afternoon, I Googled “overcoming children’s fear of the dark”, and found several useful parenting articles, all with the same words of wisdom. For instance, you should not let your youngsters watch scary depictions on television before bed.
I learned this one years ago. When the Older One was four and came running into our room screaming about blood dripping on his walls, I knew immediately it was because his father let him watch The Shining the afternoon before!
I did, however, learn something new in my cyber research. Apparently, children who are prone to a fear of darkness also happen to have over-active imaginations. In the toddler and pre-school years, these children, do not have to ability to separate fact from fiction. When the lights go off, they have no more distractions, and their imaginations take full reign. Makes sense.
Except, my child doesn’t have an “over-active” imagination. She plays pretend like I did at her age. She plays house, Barbies, school…nothing extreme. That could not be the source of her fear.
Then I actually listened to her as we went about our evening activities. We went to the basement to bring up boxes for Christmas decorations, and as I opened the door and started down the steps, I heard, “This is a deep, dark, cave where the witch lives. Shhhhhh!”
Coming back up the stairs…”We’re astronaughts blasting off to the moon!”
When I probed for what she might be afraid of in her room…”He’s round and green and has ears on his legs and he’s gonna steal my Christmas presents!”
Whoa!! Girlfriend’s got an overdose of the imagination gene! No wonder she can’t sleep at night!
Now, armed with a newfound knowledge of how to turn on her bedside lamp and a neon pink glow stick bracelet, she is fast asleep. I also put away that copy of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” that I found lying beside her bed.
I’m hoping for a peaceful night’s sleep too…as long as I can get the twisty exorcism lady out of my head.