Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I remember being scared a lot when I was little.  Not scared for any legitimate reason, just scared of things I thought I saw in shadows, noises I thought I heard in the quiet.  

I used to get up in the middle of the night, look out the window of my room, and go wake my parents to tell them that people were out there stealing my father's car.  Like, picking it up and carrying it away on foot.  I was certain I could see them, certain I was saving the day.  My sweet Daddy always got up and looked out the window, before gently reassuring me there were no car-toting thieves in front of our house, and letting me scramble into bed with them. 
Then there was the time in junior high, when my best friend and I stayed home for the day to study for exams, while my family went to the lake.  I guess we found studying for world history to be a little dry, because we together dreamed up a home invader, prowling the unoccupied downstairs.  We got ourselves so worked up that we eventually had to call my next-door neighbors.  Neighbor dad came running over and inspected the house for us.  But no sooner had he left than we realized we never got him to look in the utility closet.  We were positive our intruder had hidden in there!

Being the very street smart girls that we were, we set up a foolproof safety plan.  We locked ourselves in an interior bathroom, with a (very heavy!) box of Tide balanced precariously on the behind-the-door towel rack, and armed ourselves with hairspray, a curling iron, and a bottle of 409.

We called my friend's mother from the safety of the bathroom and asked her to hurry over.  We gave her clear instructions to knock three times and ring the doorbell once, so that we would know it was her and could safely come to the door.  She obliged and we swung open the bathroom door, forgetting about our laundry detergent booby trap.  The (very heavy!) box of Tide hit the corner of my glasses on the way down, forever giving them an uber cool, kind of bent-up look.  We tore down the stairs, screaming like banshees, with our bottles of hairspray and 409 held out in front of us like canisters of pepper spray primed for attack, and flung open the door to one very surprised mother, who--thankfully--took us to her house for the day.
I guess when everyone started reading Mary Higgins Clark novels I should have known they wouldn't be the best material for my active imagination.  But I simply could not resist.  And thus many a night of bedtime reading ended in my sleeping on a pallet of blankets at the foot of my parents' bed, willing myself not to think of murderers and kidnappers and torturers.   
And--ok, this is embarrassing--the last time I spent the night in my parents' room was two nights before I got married!  For real.  I was up late with pre-wedding jitters and last-minute to-do's and got so spooked with the noises of my parents' house that I eventually retreated with my blanket and pillow to the loveseat in their room.  And slept peacefully ever after.
Out of all these times--and many more--what I remember most acutely is the absolute feeling of comfort, peace, and safety I enjoyed when I knew my parents were there to guard and protect me.  Right there.  Within reach.  Mine.
So, I guess I have a bit of a soft spot for the fearfulness that has developed in Little Guy.  He's scared of giants and dark rooms, of fire alarms and a certain screechy cry of his brother's.  He's afraid to be alone during the day and terrified in the night.  He trembles and he cries and he wants to be as close to us as possible.  All day, he follows me from room to room.  At meals, he holds my hand while he eats.  And that's as a compromise to his desire to sit in my lap for dining!  He wakes multiple times a night, frantic with fear, and engages in what the Mister calls 'progressive sleeping'--starting out in his bed, moving to the playpen in our room in the middle of the night, and eventually wiggling his way into a spot in our double bed in the early hours of the morning.

We are really struggling with how to help him right now.  We've had discipline problems with him staying in his bed before, but this is different.  This is practically tangible fear.  I've taught him to pray for strength and courage, and explained to him that God is always with him.  I've turned on extra lights and left the door open.  The Mister has slept on the floor by his bed many a night.  We've discussed the reasons he need not be afraid of these things.  And yet, last night he couldn't fall asleep until I had pulled the playpen up to touch the side of my bed, like a baby's bassinette.

Mostly I wish he weren't afraid because I see how much it upsets him.  But also it would also be nice to have a peaceful night of sleep here and there--for him and for us.  When Baby Girl arrives, she's going to get first priority on bunking in with us, so I'm worried about how that will go, too. And, at some point, Buddy Boy is going to catch on that big brother is getting to sleep in our room.  It can't go on like this forever, but I'm at a loss as to what to do.
I keep thinking about the feeling of complete comfort and safety that I would have when sleeping under my parents' watch.  How my churning stomach would be stilled and my racing heart would be calmed.  Obviously, I want him to have that security even when we're out of his sight, but for now, he just seems to need a little more reassurance.  He needs us.  So, for now, that's what he's getting.

These years are short, and we're just doing the best we can.


Eleanor said...

Sweet boy! Im sorry he's so scared! I know that he needs the rest and so do you! Good luck!

Hilarious story about you dreaming up home invaders! You are such a great writer!

Aunt Betty said...

I suggest since you are such a good writter that you and he colaborate on a story. Make it into a book you can read before bed. He tells you of the things he is scared of and you make him the hero of every event. With stratagies that you come up with together. He protects his family in every case. He has the special powers to scare away the bad guys. Basically empower him. Maybe get a nerf type gun that shoots VERY soft objects as part of his protective powers. Use his imagination in reverse.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he just needs monster spray to keep the monsters away.

Jamie Helms said...

Your Aunt Betty is on to something WONDERFUL! I am in full agreement! :) You are doing a great job--- he will be so thankful when he looks back on these years and remembers the calm you and Jacob brought him. Hang in there!

Vir said...

Oh what a sweetheart. I think you're such a wonderful mom! I'll be praying for him! Maybe as JF gets older he'll find comfort in sharing the room with his brother. I loved thinking back on that funny study time we had that day. Thanks for the memory! Keep us posted on his progress.

Emily said...

I was laughing out loud reading the first half of your post! It reminded me of when Eleanor and I spent the night at a friend's house and convinced ourselves that there were home invaders lurking around downstairs. We locked ourselves in the bathroom and huddled down in the big jacuzzi bathtub with all the lights off. We heard sirens outside and were convinced that the police had figured out that we were in danger and were coming to help us. We stayed there for a long time :)! I also remember convincing myself that kidnappers were following me on my bike anytime I saw one of those big, white utility vans! And that I would be caught in a drive-by-shooting if I went to the bottom of the driveway to get the mail/paper after dark. Haha! Who knows where I got that from...too much Law & Order, maybe?!?!

Anways, I'm sorry to hear that LG is so scared! You are such a sweet mama to understand where he is coming from and it sounds like you've done everything to comfort and reassure him. Maybe some of these other suggestions will help or maybe he will grow out of it! I hope so so that yall can all get some sleep - especially before baby girl comes!

Confessions said...

bless all of you! that is so tough. during the trauma that our elf caused (much like yours...), MT dreamed up some creepy squirrel with claws that lived in her bedroom. we must have checked for that squirrel 73 times in only a few nights. it's rough when your children are scared. praying for wisdom for you!

Wanting What I Have said...

Our little Man had the same trouble. We went through many of the same things. Finally, in a moment of desperation, The Engineer came up with something brilliant that worked for us. He got one of his old band medals and presented it to Little Man as a "badge of courage" and explained that anytime he felt afraid he should remember he has a "badge of courage." Little Man keeps that "badge" on his bedside table and for whatever reason, that seems to have nipped his fear issues for now. Its been several months. Want us to mail you a "badge of courage?" :) We've got plenty.

Katherine said...

This is my favorite post of yours yet. I just love it. It's so seamlessly and beautifully written, and the part about you and your parents a few days before your wedding is just so touching.

I love Aunt Betty's idea for making a book. You could do it on blurb.com!