Since Maly was born, there have been a handful of times where I’ve felt completely helpless. This was not one of those times. This is one of those situations where we have a problem, and we need to fix it. Actually, Maly has the “problem”, and all we can do is give her the tools to figure out how to fix it on her own.
I can’t convey this to my daughter, but I’m excited by her newfound fear. Her imagination is working and her subconscious is trying to work out some kind of problem. Now that she has some kind of boogy man, we have to help her find a way to control her own imagination so she knows she’s in control and is fully capable of handling this situation on her own.
I’ve been a horror buff for as long as I can remember and my self-serving side is excited to think that in a few years, my daughter might want to spend Sunday mornings with her dad at the movie theatre watching really bad horror movies. And on Halloween she and I can make our house THAT house in our neighborhood.
In the meantime, we’ve got a ghouly that comes out of the closet in the middle of the night. And it was serious business this past Monday night. Maly came into the living room around 11 p.m. and said she wanted to sleep in our bed. Long story short, we told her “no” and she sheepishly walked back into her room, flashlight in hand, and cried. We let her cry for a few minutes. Elise told her that if she kept crying, we’d have to shut her door. She kept crying. Elise shut Maly’s door. That’s when the waterworks and the shrieks of terror started. After a minute or so, I went into her room to see what I could do to fix the problem. That’s when she told me that she gets scared when the shadows come out. I assured her that the shadows wouldn’t hurt her and that if she needed help, to just call for me. I assured her that I was strong, faster and smarter than any shadow or monster, and that I checked on her all the time when she was sleeping. That seemed to make her feel okay enough to fall asleep.
I went back into the living room and I thought about this new shadow monster problem. My first thought was to take her on a walk the next morning so we could talk about it and try to figure out a way to fix it. I also thought that perhaps on this walk, we could find some kind of magic token (a rock, branch, leaf, etc.) that she could keep by her bed for protection. I thought about taking her to quirky shop in Austin to find a magic token. I thought about taking her to a lighting store so she could pick out her own night light.
So I jotted down on my daily “to do” list for the next morning to “Go on a walk with Maly to figure out how we can fix the scary shadows”. I decided I would follow any kind of lead she might put forth the next day. The subject wasn’t brought up. Elise, on the other hand, scoured the web and our local library’s website to find a child-appropriate book on dealing with shadows and other things that go bump in the night.
As the next day progressed, I decided to hold off on any proactive “help” and see if the problem carried over into the night. She and I had a brief discussion about the shadows after her bath. I reassured her that I was still strong, faster and smarter than any shadow or monster, and, that if there were any shadow or monster that came out of her closet, I would hear it and would be in her room before it had the time to make it anywhere near her bed. She seemed to find comfort in that and fell asleep just fine.
I think this battle might be over, but there may still be a war ahead of us. I could be wrong.
The one thing I purposely did not do is look online for suggestions or help. The way I see it, I was born with a God-given gift to be a parent and part of my job is to help the child figure out her problems in her own way.