‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

night terrors

When Sugarplum was little, she had night terrors. To the uninitiated, "night terrors" means that you wake up screaming, but aren't really awake and whatever is making you scream is still very real. You are too caught up in the nightmare to wake up. In other words, night terrors are a metaphor for life.

Being new at this, we didn't know how to deal. Your kid screams and you go in and hold her, right? Except she's not awake and in her reality, the giant squid she's been screaming about has just rushed into her bedroom and grabbed her. It's maybe even making her scream extra loud because a giant squid that calls you "sweetie pie" and runs its slimy tentacles through your hair is just plain creepy.

Thanks to the pediatric advice of Google, we learned a little bit about what we were dealing with and could approach it with a little more finesse. Which means, we didn't touch her.

I'd go in and use my best exorcist voice to let her know I was scaring off the scariness. Or I would say "Sugarplum! you're not afraid of it!" until she believed me. Or I'd tell her she was smarter and stronger and better than "it." And then I'd sing to her and run my slimy tentacles through her hair and tell her it was all gone.

We stopped trying to wake her out of the dream, and started changing her experience.

Sugarplum eventually outgrew it, and we were pleased to note that Studley was not following in her footsteps. Until last night.

Last night we heard the familiar screams and went to go administer the pep talk. But where Sugarplum was just screaming her little lungs out, Studley was saying something almost intelligible.

Studley (sobbing, gasping, screaming): don't take my lunch!
me: it's okay, you have your lunch. No one's taking it.
Studley: (hiccup.... snore....)

I wish it could always be this easy.

And I wish I could remember to do this for myself. When I'm awake.


TwoBusy said...

Crimony! That sounds extremely unnerving... very glad that's one pitfall of kid-dom we've managed to avoid thus far...

(knocking on giant squid carcass)

Logical Libby said...

Wow. That sounds like hell. I hope once you got her back to sleep you had a stiff scotch.

Jett said...

I used to have night terrors, sitting straight up in bed either screaming or sobbing, and my mother did much the same as you're doing. I have a sister that sleepwalked frequently, so she knew about redirecting versus waking early on, which was probably a help.

Still, the way she tells the tale now, I don't know if I'd have it in me to withstand the kind of noisemaking she said that I did. It was apparently very eerie-sounding.

Will she drink tea? Maybe some chamomile will help.

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I have them. Husband has to say to me, "Does it make sense that there's an armadillo over there?" and I say, "Well no, actually." and Poof! They're gone.

Last night was a bulldozer. I've never had machinery before. I need a new strategy.

I'm here for every one of your posts. I should comment more.

cIII said...

"Don't take my lunch!"

Goddamn right.

Sometimes we save the terrors of the day. Then, we let them slip at night. They are fiendish that way. The terrible things are.

Cape Cod Rambling Rose said...

My oldest did the very same thing! It always scared the bahjeezahs out of me, as we could never seem to wake him up and out of the dream. If it's any consolation, my oldest now sleeps like a rock, and for longgggg hours at a time (then again, you probably knew that, as his absence on a certain morning each week is evidence). lol

Tiffany said...

How horrible. I once spent the night at a friend's house in college. I didn't know she had night terrors and when she sat straight up in bed screaming I nearly wet myself. I had no idea what was going on...poor kids.

for a different kind of girl said...

Happily, we've not dealt with night terrors. We've actually been spared a tremendous number of nightmares, come to think of it. Now, if we could put the kabosh on the whole nigh puking my kids like to do, though...

JAbel said...

Evidently Studley doesn't eat school lunches or they changed a great deal from my time.

Helena Halme said...

Is Sugarplum a girl and Studley a boy? Because worrying about one's lunch sounds very much like a boy-thing.

Janine said...

My youngest had night terrors. Bizarre stuff. I learned to stay with her but not to touch her or talk to her. It was the only way.

Rose Brier Studio said...

My daughter sleepwalked, mostly after watching horror films at the neighbors. We have no explanation for the dream she woke her brother for. Apparently she dreamed the ladies at church were kissing her fingers off. She hysterically insisted he count her fingers to make sure the dream wasn't true. And we thought Sunday School was a safe place!

just making my way said...

Jeebus, I'm like three posts behind!

Wonderboy has had night terrors since he was about 3. We still deal with them occasionally. Awful, awful. We learned as well not to try to touch him. And, knock on wood, we have not seen them from the Pixie yet. Fingers crossed and all!