Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dealing With Monster

My Grandmother haunted the room right next to mine when I was a child. She was never so rude as to rattle chains or moan, or give any evidence really that she was there in spectral form, but she had lived in that room and had passed away. To most any child's imagination the fact that she now resided there as a spooky ghost is as unassailable a fact as 1+1=2, right?

What's worse is that her room was across the hall from the stairs leading down into the basement, the dark, lifeless basement full of strange furnace noises and creepy storage rooms. The section of hallway between the two may as well have meant a child proof psychic forcefield some nights.

What I'm saying is that, while I remember waking up scared at nights for the typical childhood fears, there were many nights I didn't try to sneak into my parent's room for the greater fear of being dragged into the basement by some drooling monster or pulled into my grandmother's room by her spectral form (Why would you do such a thing, Gran?).

My parents were lucky.

Alan, our more rough and tumble of our boys, gets scared of the dark. We leave the closet light on all night and I lay with him until he's out, but he inevitably wakes up and, without the haunting grandma/monster basement barrier, he makes his way to our room most nights now.

Brian has never shown any fear of the dark, monsters, ghosts, or any of that. He has a firm grasp on such reality, or lack thereof. As a kid I was more like Alan, and knew only peers who were afraid of the dark. As such I find myself impressed at Brian's courage or his obliviousness to it. BUT he does wake up with first light... even in the summer.

This all means I am spending most of my nights with Alan's foot in my side (he like to lay sideways, poking into both Rob and me). Also the dog likes to lay on my feet, no matter how many times I push him away. Then I'm awoke from this light sleep too early by Brian's cheery self.

In short, I'm not sleeping up to my potential.

I don't want to forbid Alan from coming in to our room when scared. One of the worst weeks of my childhood was after a sitter let me watch Salem's Lot and I became convinced I couldn't go to my parent, as they were now secret vampires. No, I want him to have a safe place for his fears... just not feel he needs to use it as often. Does anyone have any good imaginary monster tricks? Anything that works with your kids? We've tried the anti-monster spray, flashlights, and reasoning it through, but it just doesn't work. As a kid who had those fears, I can see why, but is there a good way to mute them at that age?


Kengo Biddles said...

I have some unreasonable fears, even into adulthood; they don't crop up often, but they do, on rare occasions.

And I empathize about the kids. Ginta's up around 6:00 usually, and Marko around 5:30. Ginta can get up and walk down the hall, and sometimes Miki will pull him into bed with us. But he doesn't lay sideways and his feet aren't in my *cough* side. They're someplace more personal. Yeah. Not fun.

We haven't had monster problems ... yet. Have you talked with him about the monsters, tried to defuse them?

Paul said...

We make our dog sleep in a crate ("his condo," we call it). At least that solves one problem.

playasinmar said...

Train the dog to sleep with the boys. That worked for my little brothers.

Java said...

Great idea, letting the dog sleep with the boys. That will solve two problems.
My early riser is also my one afraid of the dark. He doesn't sleep much.
You can forget trying to reason it away. It's an unreasonable fear, therefore is immune to reason.
What kind of monster spray have you used? When my older kids were small I used air freshener. We had to spray it under the beds, in the closet, behind the door... Monsters, being the ugly nasty creatures they are, cannot abide good smells. So if the room is perfumed with fresh ocean breeze, or mountian mist, or gardenia spice (whatever's on sale!) they cannot enter. It worked for two of mine.
My second child was a side-ways in the bed sleeper. And he kicked. Turns out the poor guy (now 17) has Tourette's syndrome, and his main symptom is physical tics. These include hitting his fist or elbow against hard surfaces or (and here's the problem with sharing a bed with the little boy) kicking/stomping his feet. I'm very glad he has outgrown the need to climb in my bed!
Good luck Scot!

Anonymous said...

never a problem with my daughter but my son would crawl in with us. a raging furnace; we'd be kicking away covers to cool down. we just let it happen and eventually he stopped coming. then we missed him! (and still do, but i assume that he stays in bed now he has someone to share it with

Scot said...

"I have some unreasonable fears, even into adulthood;"

I know what you mean, Kengo. Some nights, in the dark, I swear there's a Utah legislator in my closet.

"Have you talked with him about the monsters, tried to defuse them?"

Unfortunately, monsters are immune to reason.

Playa, that's a good idea. My worry is--you've seen our dog--he's merely an appetizer for your average monster. Come to think of it, why does Alan think I could stop such a beast. I ain't that imposing.

Java--Hey! Our monster spray was just water in a spray bottle. I like adding the smell reasoning to it. We'll give that a shot.

Anon:"then we missed him! "

Oh yeah, there's that angle too. Enjoy the monsters while they last :-).

playasinmar said...

It takes a while to catch on but a small dog is the ultimate security blanket.

Ophidimancer said...

Hi there, I just started reading your blog. Gay parents are my heroes, as I hope to become a parent some day, when circumstances allow.

Anyway, I don't know if this will work for Alan, but when I was a child I used to have terrible nightmares that would wake me up screaming most nights. One night my mother had us both get on our knees and pray to God to protect me from the nightmares.

Although I'm no longer Christian, I still remember the efficacy of prayer because after that night, I didn't remember any of my dreams for nearly six years. A little overkill, but I didn't mind as long as I didn't have nightmares anymore.

Anyway, good luck with the monsters!

Scot said...

Thanks Ophidimancer, and welcome.

He actually stopped waking in the middle of the night on his own. Turns out it was a short phase.

I still lay in there reading or listening to podcasts until he's asleep but it's debatable weather that's for my peace of mind or his :-).