So, apparently, Rowan got his hands on a stray copy of The Little Kids’ Guide to Archetypal Behaviours and flipped to the section on night terrors. “Ah, monsters,” he must have said, running his finger down the list of chapter headings. “Time to be scared of monsters.”
And so it began. Four nights in a row now, Rowan has woken up multiple times. On Tuesday, I lost count after six times (not including the time when his crying woke Isaac as well). Sometimes, he whimpers and cries out in his sleep; when we go in to check on him, he tosses and turns, sits up and lies down repeatedly, mutters things like, “It’s not my turn,” or “Why are you chasing me?” Other times, he wakes fully, gets out of bed, and pounds on his bedroom door for one of us. “Mommy! A monster blew down my bed!”
We rub his back, tuck him in, go back to bed, and then repeat the entire scenario anywhere from ten minutes to two hours later. Finally, last night at 2 a.m., Rachel said, “I’m sleeping with him. I can’t take it any more.” And that seemed to do the trick.
“You’re having such a hard time sleeping,” I said to him this morning. “What’s wrong?”
“Someping … yes, someping is wrong,” he said, tiny and matter-of-fact in his stripey pyjamas. “I am scared of someping.”
“What are you scared of?”
“I am scared of monsters,” he said.
Monsters. Specifically a monster that shoots fire at him.
“Sounds a lot like a dragon,” I commented.
He nodded. “Yes, a dragon.”
So, what do you do with monsters? There’s no point, I think, in telling him they don’t exist, that the nearest thing in this house to monsters are the zombies that Rachel and I have become after four nights of pretty much no sleep. The monsters aren’t real, but the fear is. And how do you engage with the fear without simultaneously reinforcing the monsters? We’re working on it.
“Are you scared of the monsters?” he asks.
“No,” I’ve been telling him. “I’m not scared of monsters. I have you and This Mom and Isaac to keep me feeling safe.”
In the meantime, I’m so tired that when I tried to write something today, the words on the page sparkled and shimmered like fireworks. Add to this Isaac teething and Rachel coming down with some kind of stomach bug. Our proposed solution, makeshift though it is, is that Rachel will sleep with Rowan until we have enough energy to think about it more clearly or until he grows out of it. Which do you think will happen first?