[This one is a major break from the DaddyTales philosophy. It’s as much about me as it is about the kids, but it ended up with such an incredible moment, that I wanted to share.]
We watched the Secret of NIMH Saturday evening. It’s a great movie adaptation of the book Mrs. Brisby and the Secret of NIMH. It was also incredibly intense.
Both kids were absolutely entranced, pulled into the story and hanging on every scene. By the end, one was chewing his fingers and the other had tear tracks on his cheeks. They loved it, though, and shouted in outrage every time I suggested that it might be too scary.
That night, our six year old had nightmares. He struggles with nightmares anyway, and going to bed after such an intense show pretty much guaranteed he’d have them.
I know, I know. We shouldn’t have watched the movie. By the time I realized how scary it was, though, the kids were both so completely engrossed that I didn’t think stopping it would help anything. And I would have had to deal with two screaming kids.
After they went to bed, my wife hit the hay, leaving me on nightmare duty. The first time the big guy came out of his bedroom, I talked him down and then walked him back to his bed. The second time, I tried sitting with him for a little bit. The third time happened right around 11:00 pm. I decided that I needed to try something unusual, something to snap him out of his pattern.
“Okay, big guy,” I said. “I think you need some stars.”
He stopped crying. “What?”
I held out my hand. “Come on. Nothing beats a nightmare like the stars.”
“Okay,” he said, taking my hand.
I led him outside and put him on one of the swings, then sat down on the one next to him. He looked over at me. “What now?”
He looked. “The stars?”
“Each one is a sun, just like ours, with planets all around them. See that one? That’s the North Star…”
We sat out there for about half an hour, chatting about the stars and planets and satellites – even passing airplanes. Once his yawns grew frequent enough to make it tough for him to talk, I suggested bed. “Okay,” he yawned.
We walked back in and he slept until 5am, when the nightmares came back.
What’s the point of this tale? I’m not really sure. I suppose you could read it as a warning about scary movies, or an idea for fighting nightmares. For me, though, it’s all about that half hour of sitting on the swings and watching the stars. Simply wonderful.
In fact, I find that I’m looking forward to his next round of nightmares.