Like I said, last night was a nightmare. The night before was equally painful and the last three or four were brutal too. I’d love to blame the time change for Addy’s sudden crummy sleep but that’s not the problem. According to Addy, “there’s a man in our house.” (And she doesn’t mean Peter.)
At first the “man in our house” was that darn Disney animated character above – Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of Addy’s new favourite movies; the kid knows much of it verbatim and walks around with a mirror saying, “Show me the Beast!” Addy’s not afraid of the Beast but is absolutely terrified of and despises the creepy Gaston. Anyway, that first night she called for Daddy, then came into our room and told us (well, me; Peter had already fallen back asleep) that there was a mean man in the house. Admittedly, I kind of freaked out. When I was a kid I never had nightmares about witches, ghosts, monsters and the like; my nightmares were always about strangers coming into our house and taking me away. After I discovered she was talking about Gaston, I reminded her that Gaston is just a silly character in the movie, he isn’t real and just the four of us were in the house.
Last night was different. She ended up in our bed at around 2 or 3 a.m. (I’m too tired to remember how she got there or what time it was) and she sounded panicked. She was cuddling up to me and kept asking questions like, “There was a man in my room…is he still there?” and “ Who else is in my house?” I answered her each time, reassuring her that no one else but the four of us were here. Then we had this exchange:
Me (really sleepy): “Addy, remember Gaston is only in the movie with Belle. He’s not real and no one likes him anyway.” (I giggled to lighten the mood.)
Addy: “It wasn’t Gaston, Mommy. It’s another man.”
She wasn’t upset but was clearly scared and even in the middle of our bed (well, really on top of me), she wouldn’t settle.
When she woke up this morning (she eventually passed out) I asked her about the man and she maintains he wasn’t Gaston and said she doesn’t remember, so I didn’t pry.
This is the first experience we’re having with nightmares. And it’s, um, yeah – kind of a nightmare.
How old were your kids when they started having nightmares? What were they scared of? How did you handle it?