Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Invasion of the Spiders

We were awakened in the middle of the night by a blood-curdling scream from our youngest. My wife was evidently impressed by the speed I exhibited in getting from our bed to his. I just know that screams like that can never be good.

He was seeing spiders everywhere, but there were no spiders. We calmed him down and got him back to bed. That lasted all of two minutes. The spiders were back. They were everywhere. And they were invisible to me. It was as if he were hallucinating.

Our three-year-old is not typically afraid of much. This was something I'd have expected from his older brother, to be honest. But he was terrified. I did my best to comfort him, but after a little while it became obvious he wasn't going to calm down any time soon. Meanwhile we were keeping his brother awake.

I ended up taking him downstairs and reading him books, then snuggling on the couch for awhile. Eventually he started getting a little drowsy and talking about squishing spiders. I decided it might be time to try again. He willingly went upstairs and got into bed--after checking his pillow for spiders again. He didn't make another sound until breakfast time.

I'm pleased I was able to handle this situation patiently. Perhaps this was one case where I could empathize. I remember being scared at night sometimes as a kid. I know that it's not always rational. Still, as an adult who needs his sleep, it could have been easy to get upset. I'm glad I didn't. At least not with him. The cat who kept trying to slip into my lap and perform acupuncture no matter how many times I said no wasn't so lucky.

But I'm not sure whether to chalk the episode up as a victory or not. Should I be satisfied that I was eventually able to get him past his fear, or be concerned that I lack the presence to dispel the monsters with a word like some fathers seem to be capable of doing? I'm not sure.

All I know is that the hug and kiss he gave me before we headed upstairs to bed made it worth it. Being a daddy is not for the faint of heart, but it can certainly have its rewards.

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