A few months back, we moved the kids into the same bedroom. It wasn’t really a tough decision. The room N had been in has terrible insulation. When it started getting cold and we discovered the problem, we moved him out of there as quickly as possible.
Fitting the two beds into the same room was a challenge, but we managed it. Fortunately, N’s crib converted into a little bed, so he’s in a “big boy” bed, but it’s still the same size as a crib. Even so, we had to rearrange the whole room – even down to the nightlight, which had to be moved from one outlet to another. It ended up directly behind a little tree.
At first, both boys seemed to be thrilled with the arrangement. After a month or so, C wanted his room back. He was having nightmares, he said. Actually, he said he was having more “mean dreams,” which is what we call them.
He’s always had nightmares. For as long as we can remember, he’s had problems with them. So, we didn’t respond very well to his claim. We talked about how he’d always had mean dreams. We talked about how great it was having his little brother in the room with him. We talked about how he missed having the room to himself.
We did a lot of talking.
What we didn’t do was very much listening.
Or so I learned two nights ago. He came running out of his room, complaining of nightmares. I calmed him down again, and carried him back to his room. As I put him back in bed, he pointed up at the ceiling, “but daddy! Look! It’s a ghost!”
Directly over the head of his bed was the scariest shadow you ever saw. To be honest, it even made me turn the light on.
I turned off the light and tracked down the source. Remember me mentioning that we moved the nightlight to under the tree? Well, the shadow figure created on the ceiling by those tree leaves was both complex and scary. It was also constantly moving, thanks to the slight breeze generated by the ceiling fan.
The whole monstrous thing was directly over the head of his bed.
His little brother, on the other hand, was shielded from seeing it by a dresser and the angle of his crib.
Needless to say, I moved the nightlight.
I also apologized.
He laughed. “It’s okay, daddy. It’s just a shadow.”
“A scary shadow,” I said.
“Yeah, a scary shadow. Sometimes, when I wake up at night…”
“I know, big guy, I know. It’s gone now.”
He rolled over and went to sleep.