My oldest daughter, the 7-year-old, is going through a nightmare phase right now. Actually, it's not so much a nightmare phase, as a Can't Fall Asleep Or I MIGHT Have a Nightmare phase. Complete with hyperventilation and tearful speculation about what nightmares could and will most likely visit her when she drifts off to La-La Land. She gets herself all worked up, thinking about past night terrors, and she can't fall asleep to save her life. Therefore, neither can I. You know, because of the crying and carrying on. And did I mention the hyperventilating? GOSH! Honestly, absolutely no consideration for the old folks, ya know what I'm sayin'? I mean, we have JOBS. And alarm clocks that go off at the insane hour of 4:30 in the A.M.! Well, I do anyway. TGIM sleeps through the alarm. For another TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Jerk.
Anyhoos, in case any family members are reading this, for the sake of full disclosure, I should probably mention that this ritual my daughter has of freaking and psyching herself out before she even falls asleep? Um, she may come by this honestly. It is possible she may resemble a child (fine, me) whose parents- who must have been completely INSANE, I might add- stood idly by as she watched The Shining (with Jack Nicholson? You know it?) rendering her sleepless for, oh, I'd say a good year. A YEAR! Hello?! High strung?! Feel free to say it with me now: "What were they THINKING?!"
Do you think I am kidding? Because I am so not kidding. I fell asleep in class on an almost daily basis all through the fourth grade, I kid you not. That movie is freaking SCARY as HELL, y'all! I still can't walk down narrow hotel corridors without hearing "Red rum! RED RUM!" echoing in my head and getting a bad case of the shakes and expecting eerie little kids on tricycles or ginormous waves of blood to come crashing through... Great. Thaaaaat's just great. Now I won't be sleeping tonight! Thanks a WHOLE LOT, Mom and Dad!
Is it possible they had forgotten about the time they found me curled up in the fetal position in my closet, catatonic except for the hysterical screaming, after I innocently got out of bed for a drink of water and accidentally stumbled upon that scene in The Exorcist, you know, with the priest and the insanely horrific possessed girl and the creepy levitating and the projectile vomiting and the scary as hell devil voice? This is not to mention the time I got a glimpse of an old Bela Lugosi Dracula movie. Freak, y'all. I slept with my arms in the shape of a cross for years! I don't care what anyone says, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt ain't got nothin' on Bela when it comes to blood-sucking. Brrrr... Did you just hear my blood freeze?
But back to my daughter. Bless her little heart. A little NyQuil PM and my baby is OUT.
Fine. Stop speed-dialing CPS. I am TOTALLY lying, but don't think I don't know that you have ALL had this idea at one time or another. I know. Don't lie.
No, we have a ritual, the kiddos and I do. It's the patent-pending "Bad dreams go away!" ritual, which is surprisingly effective. After prayers and hugs and lights out, we shout, "Bad dreams go AWAY!" three times, while shooing those tricksy bad dreams out the window. Then, in the spirit of harmonious karma, we politely invite the good dreams into our (hopefully) nightmare-free abode with a solemn "Good dreams, please come in," repeated three times. Three is the magic number. Don't forget. Three.
And if my little one begins to psyche herself out, conjuring up bloody dead kitties or scary glowing eyes in the walls (where is she GETTING this stuff?), I hold her and make her talk about them out loud. For some reason, speaking the dreams out loud, actually vocalizing her fears instead of hysterically suppressing them in the hopes they will go away (yet obsessing about them in the quiet moments before sleep takes her), well, it seems to lessen their hold on her. Which is a valuable lessen to learn, actually. Think about it.
In all honesty, my daughter is much braver than I ever was as a child. She has seen all three Harry Potter movies, and let me tell you, that werewolf scene with Professor Lupin in the third installment? Dude. That would have kept me up for WEEKS, at the very least. So I have high hopes that my children won't be ridiculed by friends and their parents alike for crying and begging to go home when they break out the horror movies on Halloween. Because that? UN. COMFORTABLE.
Teenagers can be so cruel.
Stupid Freddy Krueger. (Although I must say I liked Robert Englund's earlier work on V. Aw, Willie!)
That is all I have to say about that.
- KC commented:
I can't say a word.....I still have nightmares about the Oompaloompa's in Willy Wonka. To this day, I have to fast forward through the Oompaloompa scenes or leave the room while they're on.
Can you say wuss?
- » 4/22/2005 8:15 AM
- mrtl commented:
Three cheers for Nyquil! Yah! Yah! Yah! (Yes, three, I get it.)
- » 4/22/2005 8:24 AM
- Greenthumb commented:
ah poor little kitten, I totally understand her fears. I used to do the same thing.
you're a good momma. I wish someone had shooed away the nightmares and welcomed the good dreams in. again, you're such a good momma.
- » 4/22/2005 8:52 AM
- Random and Odd commented:
Alyx has been going through the same thing lately (She's 8)
She keeps having dreams that everyone is dead. It's starting to freak me out.
She doesn't watch scary movies at our house...well, except for The Grudge that one time, but she liked it. She's all into scary movies and I think she watches them at her dads. I don't know. It's sad to see my baby all crying in the morning though.
- » 4/22/2005 9:19 AM
- Circus Kelli commented:
Wow, Cat... what a great idea! I wouldn't have thought of that! Shooing away the bad dreams like that AND welcoming in the good dreams... that's terrific!
You definitely get Mommy brownie points for that!
- » 4/22/2005 9:47 AM
- Vajana commented:
Usually with my 7-year-old what works is thinking about the best place she's ever been, like an amusement park, and make up a story about it, I usually start her off. Then I tell her to come up with the rest and since dreams are affected by what you are thinking then she will dream about that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a total waste of time. But it does calm her down.
And it is totally inherited, I still have insomnia, if a nightmare is involved it's something about a guy in my basement coming after me.
I had nightmares about that movie "The Day After" for YEARS. Then my loving brother tells me our city is like 3rd on the Russians list to bomb. Instead of helping, my dad says, "Well, you know, he does have a point, it probably is."
Thanks Dad. Thanks for the insomnia.
- » 4/22/2005 10:33 AM
Carl Jung felt that most dreams symbology even though it may appear scary is actually just symbols your subconscious mind is using to represent something that is going on in your life. Like the guy in the basement that coming upstairs to kill you... may be as benign as an emotion or thing in your life that you are trying to ignore, or supress, that you are afraid if it surfaces will hurt you, or make your life very difficult...maybe say, kill your current lifestyle... Just a thought
- » 4/22/2005 11:09 AM
- Cat commented:
Holy cow, don't even get me started on lucid dreaming, mr./ms. anonymous!! I could go on for days!! (Me? Obsess, much?) It is SOOOOO interesting, I kid you not!
Woooo, KC..... there's a new Willie Wonka coming oooooooouuuuuutttt.... with brand spankin' new Ooooooompa Looooompaaaaaas! Creeeeeeepy ones, I betcha! Woooooo! BOO!
Vajana: Bitter, much? Hee. We do that, too, with the Happy Place, but it's The Ritual, and the talking it out thing that usually works in our house. Amazingly, as anonymous said, the meaning is usually right there in front of your nose... It's like a puzzle.
Kristine: Good lord, woman! I couldn't even watch The Grudge! That's freaking scary, yo! The little cat boy in the COMMERCIALS gave me nightmares! "She doesn't watch scary movies..."? Sheesh! ;) Poor little Alyx. Give her loves from us.
Greenthumb: You did hear the part about the NyQuil, right? (mrtl heard me! Woot woot!) But, hey, thanks! I try, but... MAN. Kids are hard, dude.
Circus Kelli: Me want real brownies. Brownies ain't no sometimes food! (Get it?! Get it?! mrtl? Anyone?!)
- » 4/22/2005 11:26 AM
- mrtl commented:
Sometimes = when I'm not sleeping? It's so objective.
I've lost a lot of respect for ol' Cookie Monster. He caved.
- » 4/22/2005 12:08 PM
- Nessa commented:
hey Cat! how's it going? I just wanted to drop by & say thanks for the comment - with a 7 year old as your oldest, you might be having that conversation sooner than you think! good call on the nightmares! I'll be back...
- » 4/22/2005 1:16 PM
- Cat commented:
Hey! It's sillynessa! Hi! I love your site! That being said, my oldest, my buddy boy, is 9. (The child having nightmares is my oldest daughter.) :) **GASP** And actually, he's already too damn curious about the whole sex thing for my motherly comfort. Which is why I totally loved your Talk! I am anticipating an equivalent number of "Eeeeews!"
- » 4/22/2005 2:08 PM
- Susie commented:
You sound like a great desperate working momma. My 9-year-old has this sometimes, lately from seeing previews of the "Revelations" TV show.
The Shining scared the hell out of me, and I'm sure I was much older than you when I saw it. Likewise, the Exorcist. I wanted to get up and walk out of the theater, but I couldn't move. Frozen.
- » 4/22/2005 3:30 PM
- Shaun commented:
Cat, you need "Nightmare Spray". When my son was little and had nightmares, I would spray his room with Nightmare Spray (aka water spray bottle) before he went to bed. I made up some official sounding story, seemed to work.
- » 4/22/2005 6:45 PM
- Mamaramma commented:
I'm not sayin' that I would ever do this just so she would go to sleep, but one time, Miss M. had hives and was prescribed Benadryl. It was PRESCRIBED. I HAD to give it to her. So am I wrong to enjoy the full night of sleep that resulted??
I like your solutions for the bad dreams. I'm going to have to remember that.
- » 4/22/2005 8:36 PM