I had a nightmare the other night to rival any modern horror film, complete with psychopaths, remote cabin, and no cell service. For once I was pleased to be wakened at three thirty in the morning by the shrieking of a cheap alarm clock. I shook my head, relieved to be out of that one.
In the predawn I prepared for work, stomping through the house in my heavy boots. While I was brewing a pot of coffee I heard the soft sound of bare feet and muffled whimpers. #3 wandered into the kitchen with her face buried in her hands.
When I inquired what was wrong, she responded in her quiet way, “I had a bad dweam.”
Oh dear, it seemed that my nightmare had not finished its course and had jumped to another unsuspecting victim. I scooped up the poor girl knowing full well just how bad the dream had been. I asked her to tell it to me; for I understood that my children faced their fears easily when a parent is able to share it with them.
She stammered into my shoulder, “I was being eaten by a…” there her words faded off into inaudible sounds.
“You were being eaten by what?” I asked.
“By a…” and again I was unable to make out her words despite the closeness of her mouth to my ear, for her head was resting on my shoulder.
I pushed again. “What was that?”
“I was being eaten by a snake,” she moaned.
“It’s ok little one,” I said, and it was too. Snakes are much easier to handle than psychopaths. Given the choice, I would always choose the former. So I sat down with #3 and counseled her. After a little time I asked if she wanted to go back to bed. She shook her head. Well, I had to leave, so I pulled out my weapon of last resort, the one that always calmed the children down no matter how worried or scared they might get. “Do you want to sleep with Momma?” To that she nodded.
I laid her down on my side of the bed, a sanctuary for the children. After all, bad dreams are more scared of Momma, than she is of snakes.